Women underrepresented at top levels of Swiss business

Marissa Mayer, CEO at Yahoo, is one of the world's best-known female faces in a high-profile top job Keystone

Women are still a relatively rare sight in the upper levels of Swiss companies, according to a report by Credit Suisse that makes an international comparison of the representation of women in business.

This content was published on October 3, 2016 - 11:28 and agencies

Although Switzerland placed in the middle of the rankings in terms of company bosses, it was a different story when it came to heads of finance and other management positions.

In the past eight years the share of women on supervisory boards has grown by 55%, but with a share of 13.4% of women on these boards, Switzerland is behind the international average of 14.7%. In Europe, the share of women on boards of directors is twice as high as in Switzerland.

The share of women at the top levels of company management stands at 6.8% in Switzerland, and in Europe, 12.6%.

This is how Switzerland shaped up against a selection of the countries in the 2016 “CS Gender 3000External link” report.

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When it came to the top job at a company, the share of women in Swiss CEO roles stood at 3.8%, just behind the international average of 3.9%. 

The report found that a structural problem was at play – with 70% fewer women in charge of a company’s finances, and 67% fewer heading up strategy or operations, there was a lack of women in a position to move on to becoming CEOs. These positions often serve as a springboard for the top job or a spot on the board of directors.

The bank concluded that with a smaller pool of women lower down the ladder in Switzerland than in other countries, the situation was unlikely to change in the medium term without a larger proportion of women ready to move up a rank.

The bank looked at the number of women in top jobs across 78 Swiss companies, and made a comparison with 3,000 businesses worldwide. The annual report also commented that companies with a balanced gender ratio were more profitable. 

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