Growing ESG Reporting Becomes A Priority For Investors – SA’s Stats Look Promising

The technology and engineering economic industries are not represented in the top five business sectors based on female employees.

International Women's Day.
International Women's Day. TierneyMJ /

To celebrate International Women’s Day, Refinitiv analyzed some of the gender-related metrics in its environmental, social and governance (ESG) database. Highlighted below are five key ESG findings often integrated into the investment decision process.

  1. Investors Consider Companies That Report Gender Metrics

Overall, on a global scale, we see companies more willing to report granular data on gender diversity than ever before. In the last five years, we have seen a 6% increase of companies reporting female manager numbers. Companies reporting female employee numbers is also seen as a positive sign for investors looking for transparency as now almost half of companies report on this metric globally.

Companies reporting gender metrics report that they have an average of 37% female managers and 52% female employees.

  1. Changes At The Top

While still significantly underrepresented, in the last five years there has been improvement among women at the board and executive levels. Little has changed at the lower employee level, however. The recent improvements at a board and executive ranks reflect the increasing focus on gender diversity at the corporate leadership level, with a 5.57% increase in female executives between 2016-2017.

An analysis of the female composition of the workforce reveals the following:

  • Female Board Members averaged 13.35% in the 2017 financial year compared to 11.34% in the 2013 financial year;
  • Female Executives averaged 18.07% in the 2017 financial year compared to 12.17% in the 2013 financial year;
  • Female Managers averaged 26.41% in the 2017 financial year compared to 24.75% in the 2013 financial year; and
  • Female Employees averaged 34.92% in the 2017 financial year compared to 33.49% in the 2013 financial year.
  1. The Corporate Ladder Gender Gap

There are still some significant barriers when it comes to the promotion of women to more senior levels. In an ideal world, we would see comparable average percentages of female representation across all levels but the reality is starkly different. Using female employee percentages as a baseline for comparison against the board, executive and non-executive levels, the gender gap is substantial at all levels.

The Gender Gap:


 USJapanAustraliaUKCanadaTaiwanSouth AfricaChinaBrazilFrance
Female Board Members (%)20.64.717.722.920.211.023.710.38.442.8
Female Executives (%)15.11.317.915.513.713.720.310.68.614.4
Female Managers (%)33.39.628.
  1. Gender Diversity By Region

When comparing countries with the highest GDP, Japanese companies with female board members, executives and managers are conspicuously absent. It is also worth noting that six of the top ten regions have a deficit in female executives, meaning it could be a challenge to keep the board level diverse in the future if there isn’t a healthy pipeline of female executives to promote onto the board.

Female Representation for Six Countries:


Board Members – 20.62%

Executives – 15.11%

Managers – 33.27%

Employees – 38.33%



Board Members – 10.29%

Executives – 10.57%

Managers – 26.31%

Employees – 35.91%



Board Members – 4.68%

Executives – 1.29%

Managers – 9.56%

Employees – 26.28%



Board Members – 27.83%

Executives – 7.90%

Managers – 24.66%

Employees – 36.00%



Board Members – 22.93%

Executives – 15.54%

Managers – 25.19%

Employees – 26.59%


South Africa

Board Members – 23.67%

Executives – 20.27%

Managers – 31.54%

Employees – 39.65%



Top Ten Countries with Highest Female Board Representation by GDP:


CountryFemale Board Percentage in 2017Refinitiv ESG Company CoverageGDP Ranking
United Kingdom22.932695
United States of America20.628751


  1. Gender Diversity By Industry

Our data shows that globally, the gender composition of the workforce has changed over the years based on industry group. Although changes have been consistent in the top business sectors, we still see severe underrepresentation of female employees in industries that have been traditionally male-dominated.

Top Five Business Sectors Ranked by Female Employee Percentage:

  1. Drug and Food Retailing – 56.39%
  2. Retailers – 55.90%
  3. Insurance – 54.54%
  4. Healthcare Services and Equipment – 51.51%
  5. Banking and Investment Services- 49.42%

Bottom Five Business Sectors Ranked by Female Employee Percentage:

  1. Mineral Resources – 15.39%
  2. Automobile and Auto Parts – 17.73%
  3. Chemicals – 19.73%
  4. Applied Resources – 21.54%
  5. Industrial Goods – 21.55%

Business Sectors Ranked by the 2017 Female Employee Percentage:

Top 5 GroupsFemale Board RepresentationFemale ExecutivesFemale Managers (Non-Executive)Female Employees
Food and Drug Retailers15.6023.137.512.5917.114.534.5933.98-0.652.3056.394.1
Healthcare Services and Equipment15.1125.2110.112.7015.292.637.2934.38-2.955.9351.51-4.4
Banking and Investment Services13.5619.165.613.7816.002.734.2535.981.749.0849.420.3


The financial sector represents two of the top five economic sectors by female employment with the banking and investment services being ranked at the top by female employees and managers.

Some improvements have been seen by female employees in the retail sector appears in the top five for female employees, female managers and female executives. Insurance, and healthcare services and equipment industries show high representation in female employees and female board members; however, the healthcare services and equipment industry has had a gradual decrease in female managers over the last five years.

Another area to keep an eye on is STEM industries. The technology and engineering economic industries are not represented in the top five business sectors based on female employees. The only STEM business sector that has more than 40% female employees is pharmaceuticals and medical research. STEM is an area which has received a lot of controversy and attention for their lack of gender transformation in recent years and we are yet to see if they fulfil their commitment to have more female representation in the near future.


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