Female Leadership in Finance: How Are We Doing?

Of all the Mexican companies listed on the BVM, only one has a woman CEO and none have a female CFO

On the occasion of International Women's Day, the inclusion of women in the workforce and related issues such as the salary gap, work-life balance and the participation of women in executive positions have been widely discussed.

In this regard, it has been very gratifying to see the progress made in the number of female directors, as recently published by Grant Thornton. Based on a sample of 5,000 companies worldwide, the study shows that female participation in senior management positions has grown from 20% in 2011 to 32% in 2022, a significant increase in just 11 years.

This document reveals that Latin America has already reached a rate of 35%, which is higher than Europe’s 33%, while Asia-Pacific has the lowest rate at 30%. The slower evolution of the Asian region can be explained by a more closed culture regarding the inclusion of women in the workplace. 

The increase in the proportion of women was in CEOs, CFOs, COOs, and CIOs. This growth exceeds the rate of 30%, which is used as a metric to consider women’s participation in organizations as significant.

In the field of finance, female leadership has gained strength due to the emergence of women at the helm of major corporations, such as Citi, where Jane Fraser arrived to break paradigms, becoming the first woman to be appointed CEO in the financial institution with the greatest global presence.

Like many other talented women, motherhood did not prevent Fraser from standing out in the professional environment. The example she has set will undoubtedly increase women's access to decision-making positions and, in turn, these women will promote more inclusive labor policies.

An important factor that is also propelling this issue at the international level is pressure by investors, who, owing to more stringent ESG standards, are prioritizing financial vehicles that reflect a greater commitment to social aspects. As a result, more and more organizations are joining this trend every day, having recognized that the diversity of thought between men and women creates more solid companies, with a better financial performance and more empathy for the needs of human capital.

However, when we analyze the case of Mexico, even though more women can be seen in top positions, much remains to be done. For example, of the 145 Mexican companies listed on the Mexican Stock Exchange, only one has a woman CEO and none have a female CFO. Similarly, the participation of independent directors in public companies continues to be very low, indicating that a greater commitment is required from both regulatory agencies and companies.

The author is the Director of the Master in Finance at EGADE Business School - Tecnológico de Monterrey.

Article originally published in Alto Nivel.

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