Women's leadership development

Most employers lack a strategy for developing women leaders, Mercer survey shows

Despite organizations’ efforts to achieve a diverse workforce, the majority – 71% – do not have a clearly defined strategy or philosophy for the development of women into leadership roles, according to the Women’s Leadership Development Survey conducted by Mercer in conjunction with Talent Management and Diversity Executive magazines.


Conducted in December 2010, the survey received responses from more than 1,800 human resource, talent management and diversity leaders worldwide about their leadership development practices for women. Organizations representing a broad cross-section of industries throughout North America, EMEA and Asia Pacific answered questions about their current commitment to women’s leadership, plans for the future and obstacles to success. 

read the survey 


  • US and Asia Pacific both showed higher than average support for the development of women with 27% of organizations indicating a great extent of support compared to the global response of 19%.


  • 11% of organizations in EMEA plans to add targeted activities or programs to develop women leaders in the future -- nearly twice the global average of 6%.


  • 63% of organizations in Canada offer no activities or programs targeting the development of women leaders compared to the global average of 47%.


  • 32% of the organizations in Asia Pacific that offer some type of gender-specific development or leadership programs say they use them moderately or extensively, which is higher than the global average of 22%. 

comparative results




“There’s less certainty about what’s appropriate and effective with respect to women’s leadership development. When companies do take steps to support women, they often focus on tactics like flexible work schedules. That may be a good starting point, but it’s certainly not a complete solution.” 

“We’re beginning to see a lot more interest around women’s leadership development and diversity from major organizations in Asia Pacific; opportunities exist for companies in the region to create a competitive advantage by harnessing key segments of their workforce.” 

 “Driving change is about instilling diversity at the core of an organization’s leadership philosophy and developing a broad, integrated strategy that values gender, ethnic and cultural diversity.” 

“We’re seeing a new generation of talent – regardless of gender – that is choosing work-life balance over career advancement. In order to sell leadership to high performers, the model, which maintains that leaders must work long hours and are constantly connected to the office, will need to evolve and include new perspectives related to work-life balance.”










Processes for a diverse leadership team


Delivering upon your promise of diversity


Career channeling assessment


Survey summary reports:





21 April webcast (North America) 


19 May webcast recording (APAC)


17 March webcast recording (EMEA)


Christopher Johnson

+44 20 7178 7343



Masaki Nakajima

+81 3 5354 1788


Anne Schult
+31 20 431 3988

North America 

Tonushree Mondal

+1 215 982 4261


Latin America

Juliana Van Waveren

+52 55 5999 2221