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Career gains at risk for women in Europe and US

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Preliminary When Women Thrive report shows no future growth seen in their share of professional jobs.

The growth of women in the broad professional ranks of Europe’s leading employers is likely to stall in the years ahead, despite advances they have made in top executive roles, according to a preliminary report released today by the consulting group Mercer. In ten years, women who work in professional and more senior positions will make up 37 percent of those ranks – exactly the same proportion as in 2015, according to preliminary results in When Women Thrive, Mercer's second annual report on the global outlook for participation, retention, and promotion of women in the workforce.

By comparison, the share of women in executive ranks in Europe will rise from 21 percent this year to 33 percent in 2025, the report projects, if organizations can maintain the momentum observed in the current year. Part of the reason for the faster trajectory is the corporate focus on hiring women at senior levels. “Quotas in Europe have had a big impact in boosting female representation in senior roles,” said Julia Howes, Principal in Mercer’s Workforce Analytics practice.

“But there’s a disturbing revolving door. While firms are focused on recruiting women at the top, it doesn’t appear they’re keeping them and that could threaten the progress they’ve made, unless they act now.” As the European workforce ages, it raises the possibility that more women will exit the job market to care for the growing elderly population, the report warns. “Leaders risk failing to develop enough qualified workers in Europe to deliver on economic growth,” says Patricia A. Milligan, Global Leader, When Women Thrive at Mercer.

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