Paving the way to opportunities: women in leadership across the Commonwealth

This report presents the most comprehensive review of the progress of women in leadership positions across the Commonwealth, drawing on evidence from published reports and transcripts from recent events organised by the Commonwealth Business Council and the Commonwealth Secretariat. Representing countries that stretch across a varied economic, social, political and cultural domains, this report examines what opportunities exist for women across the Commonwealth, how they are able to navigate to positions of power and how this can be further supported by governments and businesses alike, ensuring sustainable progress for future generations.


Janjuha-Jivraj and Arif Zaman.

Boardroom diversity has been in the spotlight since the 2008–09 global financial crisis, where the question of the composition and competence of boards and people in senior decision-making roles has increasingly been asked. This applies to listed companies and also family firms and entrepreneurs in developed and developing markets, all of whom have to address how to ensure the quality of decision-making is not compromised by insufficient diversity of both gender and perspectives – something which is too often the case in both instances.

ACCA and the Commonwealth Business Council are delighted to collaborate on this ground-breaking report, which was first presented at the 10th Commonwealth Women Affairs Ministers’ meeting in Dhaka, Bangladesh, in June 2013 where it was well received and widely supported. 

This report presents the evidence supporting gender diversity on boards, describing policy initiatives and data on progress towards gender diversity from different countries across the Commonwealth, which accounts for 20% of the total world trade and represents one billion women. It then proceeds to focus on the financial and social implications of gender diversity before looking at how the Commonwealth can build a pipeline of talent through shared resources. The report concludes with a summary of the key issues and recommendations for countries to consider and how they can move towards achieving sustainable progress in women’s leadership, and thereby support economic growth. 

The range of organisations and individuals from across the Commonwealth that have contributed to this report is impressive and provides a rich and insightful contribution to the women in leadership discussions. Both ACCA and CBC are grateful for their contribution and now commend this report for consideration and action.