Women Matter Mexico 2022: Uneven parity

In the last four years, Mexican business leaders and employees have become significantly more aware of diversity and gender equity in workplaces and the value of promoting it. During the same period, gender diversity has become more important in organizations’ strategic agendas. However, social beliefs and gender prejudices continue to create an adverse context for women in business, slowing progress toward gender parity in Mexico.

This is demonstrated in the report Uneven parity: Women Matter Mexico 2022, which summarizes some of McKinsey’s efforts for more than 15 years to investigate gender parity in the world and improve business opportunities for women.1Uneven parity: Women Matter Mexico, McKinsey, August 2022. The report is based on information from 120 Mexican companies that collectively employ more than one million people and whose sales represent 35 percent of Mexico’s GDP.

Organizations are attentive, but there is still much to do

Today, 80 percent of employees surveyed say their organizations are committed to gender diversity, up from 68 percent in 2017, and 60 percent say diversity contributes to a better work environment. Additionally, gender parity’s economic benefits are more widely perceived: the percentage who relate parity to better company performance has risen from 28 percent in 2017 to 38 percent today.

But not all is good news. Social beliefs and gender biases in Mexico continue to foster an adverse environment for women in business. According to the results of the latest World Values Survey, one in five people in Mexico agree that men are better executives than women because of their gender, and the same proportion say having a university degree is more important for a man than for a woman.2 In addition, one in four agree that, when there is a shortage of work, men have a greater right to a job. Such attitudes could explain why the labor participation rate of women in Mexico is among the lowest in Latin America.

A century to achieve parity

Women are underrepresented at all levels of the business organization chart in Mexico, and the disparity is greatest for the highest positions. In the last four years, the participation of women in companies increased only three percentage points, from 35 to 38 percent. In general terms, the increase in the participation of women centered mostly at entry levels and in management. The largest difference in representation continues to be found in leadership and senior management positions, with a low participation of women at the vice president and executive committee levels. The percentage of women serving as senior vice presidents fell two percentage points compared with 2017, and the percentage of women in executive committees remains the same as in 2017, at 10 percent. In Mexico, only one in ten CEOs is a woman.

For the four years beginning in 2017, the percentage of women in senior positions hovered around 13 and 14 percent, posting a compound annual growth rate of just 1.3 percent (Exhibit 1). If this rate continues, 20 percent of senior positions will be held by women in 2050, and it will take 100 years for women to achieve gender parity in Mexico. At this rate, neither today’s workers nor the next two or three generations will witness gender equality.

exhibit 1

How can companies accelerate the closing of the gender gap?

While the overall progress on gender diversity issues is slow, individual companies in Mexico are changing at different rates (Exhibit 2). Our study identified the companies most successful at closing the gap and pinpointed what they are doing differently. While there is no infallible guide, we found several initiatives that distinguish the most advanced companies.

exhibit 2

Specifically, we identified 17 differentiating initiatives—that is, initiatives that are widely implemented by companies with greater gender representation at top hierarchical levels and relatively uncommon at companies with the lowest gender representation at the top levels. On our earlier report One aspiration, two realities: Women Matter Mexico 2018, we developed the CLIMB index—a conceptual framework that seeks to achieve gender equity at all levels through commitment, leadership development, infrastructure, metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs), and behaviors and mindsets. The CLIMB index brings together the key elements to promote transformation in each of the dimensions and seeks to promote a comprehensive transformation that maximizes female potential. Our analysis confirmed that the companies with the highest results in gender representativeness have comprehensive transformation programs including initiatives that address the five dimensions of CLIMB.

Based on this evidence, we conclude that companies implementing these 17 initiatives and a holistic program that encompasses all the dimensions of CLIMB will be well positioned to make progress in gender diversity.

Download the full report on which this article is based, Women Matter Mexico 2022: Uneven parity (PDF-7.39 MB).

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