Number of African Women in Leadership Positions Exceeds Global Average

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Number of African Women in Leadership Positions Exceeds Global Average

Africa has more women in leadership positions in both private and public sectors than the average worldwide, this according to the latest report by McKinsey & Company.

African Women’s Participation in the Public Sector

In the report called “Women Matter Africa,” McKinsey & Company showed the following rise of the number of African women in leadership positions in the public sector:

  • From 2000 to 2014, the share of women parliamentarians almost doubled to reach 24%.
  • In terms of women’s representation in parliament, 17 of 30 African countries sit above the global average, which is 21%.
  • Rwanda has the highest share of women parliamentarians in the world. Sixty-four percent of the parliamentarians in Rwanda are women.
  • The number of women in cabinet in Africa has grown five times to 27% in 30 years, up by 4% compared to the global average of 23%.

The growth of women’s participation in the public sector, according to McKinsey & Company, can be attributed to targets for women’s representation set by political parties and parliaments.

African Women’s Participation in the Private Sector

In the private sector, the McKinsey & Company report showed a similar rise of women in leadership positions:

  • African women hold 23% of positions at executive committee level, compared with a global average of 20%.
  • They hold 5% of positions at CEO level, compared with 4% globally.
  • African women hold 14% of seats at board level, compared with a global average of 13%.
  • In Africa, companies in the top quartile with women on executive committees outperformed industry earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) margins by 14% on average; while companies with at least a quarter share of women on their boards was on average have 20% higher EBIT than the industry average.

Number Versus Influence

While there is an increase of women in leadership positions in Africa, this number does not necessarily equates to influence, as shown in the McKinsey & Company report:

  • More than 50% of African women cabinet ministers are in charge of social welfare portfolios, while only 30% are in charge of departments with more political influence like treasury, defense, infrastructure, and foreign affairs.
  • Fifty-six percent of female senior managers surveyed in Africa hold staff roles, while only 44% hold line roles. Staff roles refer to support functions such as legal and human relations; while line roles refer to core operations such as finance, strategy and risk.
  • Substantial pay gap persists between men and women holding senior positions in private sector companies in Africa. Women board members in South Africa, for example, earn 17% less than their male counterparts.

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