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The Epicenter of Macho Culture Has Some Lessons on How to Get More Women Into Management

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Demeshko Alexandr/Shutterstock.com

Europe and the US and Canada lead the world in female representation within large companies, but Latin America is on pace to overtake all of them a decade from now.

By 2025, women are expected to hold 49% of management, executive, and other professional roles—basically any corporate job above that of support staff—in Latin America, according to a new report from the consulting firm Mercer. In Europe and the US and Canada, meanwhile, the numbers are expected to barely budge over the next 10 years.

The global survey underpinning Mercer’s forecast did not delve into the root causes of why companies in Latin America are being more successful at achieving gender parity. But it did identify several corporate trends that are helping.

Unlike companies in Europe, Canada, and the US, where the focus has been on recruiting women for top positions, firms in Latin America are adding more female workers across the board, from support staff to executives. In fact, they are hiring women at a higher rate than men at every career level, except at the manager level.

“You have to be developing your pipeline,” Pam Jeffords, a partner at Mercer, tells Quartz.

Having women at every level, not just at the top, can also make for a more inclusive culture, which in turn helps retain women. In Latin America, only at the executive level are women more likely to leave than men, with exit rates lower or equal to men’s at all other levels. That’s not the case in the US and Canada, where women’s exit rates are the same as men’s at the executive level, while female senior managers and professionals are more likely to leave than their male counterparts.

Women in Latin America also account for a bigger percentage of participation in revenue-producing, or “profit-and-loss” businesses within a company. That P&L experience is considered an important stepping stone to the chief executive’s office. Women hold 48% of P&L jobs at large companies in Latin America, compared with 22% in the US and Canada, and 17% in Europe.

Mercer’s survey of 600 companies included multinationals such as 3M, American Express, and Nestlé, but also big local players such as Mexican cement giant CEMEX and Brazilian jet maker Embraer.

Up next for Mercer: Finding out why those companies are giving women a better shot at a corporate career than their counterparts elsewhere in the world.

(Image via Demeshko Alexandr/Shutterstock.com)

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