Could this close the gender gap in the workforce?

Studies show that companies with women in senior management perform better than those without. Yet women are still much less likely to hold leadership positions than men. So, what gives?

Could this close the gender gap in the workforce?
Photo: International School of Management

The pane may be thinner, but the glass ceiling is still very much intact.

Women remain underrepresented at all levels of leadership, accounting for 48 percent of all entry-level positions but making up just 21 percent of C-Suite executives, according to McKinsey’s most recent Women in the Workplace study.

The statistics may seem bleak, but it’s not all doom and gloom.

A string of recent studies have found there is a positive correlation between women in senior management roles and overall company performance. In fact, all evidence suggests that a gender mix at the senior level significantly boosts the bottom line.

Further your career with an international business management degree

Despite this, women still face many obstacles when it comes to career progression.

The ‘boys’ club’ nature of business is just one reason often cited for why women find it harder to climb the corporate ladder. A tight-knit network of men, often formed at business school, can seem impossible to penetrate if you weren’t part of it from the beginning.

But that’s not the case at the International School of Management (ISM) in Paris, where 43 percent of the students in its IMBA, DBA, and PhD programs are female.

Along with teaching the hard and soft skills that every business leader needs to be successful, ISM helps students get into leadership positions by introducing them to business networks while they study.

“We are also connecting students to a community of like-minded people, who can mentor them and help them through the process,” explains Alison Knight, General Director at ISM.

And it's clearly working.

Just ask Kimberly Reeve, an alumnus of the PhD program at ISM. Her time at the business school successfully enabled her to develop a network that, since graduating, has become integral to her career.

“It gave me the chance to make professional connections around the world. Now I have access to other professionals and academicians in this space.”

Kimberly found the professors at ISM played a crucial role in helping her to take the next career step by introducing her to their own networks. 

“One of my professors helped me navigate the system and make connections at an academic conference. This provided me with opportunities to participate in additional academic research and writing.”

Discover ISM’s three international business management degrees

Before receiving her PhD from ISM, it had been one of Kimberly’s career goals to teach at college level. Since graduating, she has had the opportunity to teach as an adjunct professor at two colleges in New York City.

“Having both practical business experience as well as academic training helped me quickly establish credibility with my colleagues and students.”

Kimberly isn’t the only ISM graduate who has seen career progression following her studies.

The most recent ISM Alumni Survey shows that 50 percent of PhD program graduates had gone on to get a promotion, while 45 percent have seen a salary increase since graduation.

Likewise, 42 percent of the alumni of the Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) program at ISM received a salary increase following graduation, with 42 percent getting a promotion in the two years preceding the survey.

For South African DBA candidate Sthu Zungu-Noel, an executive education at ISM has paved the way to career paths she may otherwise not have taken.

“The DBA broadened my view of things and allowed me to explore areas and opportunities I would never ordinarily have looked at,” says Sthu, who is the Founder and CEO of ZUZUTHO Consulting.

You're a leader. Where do leaders go next?

She believes her education at ISM is significantly contributing to her personal growth, along with giving her with the knowledge and confidence she needs to push forward with her career.

“I currently sit on a board of a great non-profit organisation and have found that my studies at ISM have tremendously enhanced my contribution to the board,” she says.

Much like Kimberly, the program has introduced Sthu to a whole new network of people and opened up more opportunities for her in the wider business world.

“I’ve met so many people and made new friends from all over the world in different fields and industries,” she enthuses, adding she has learnt a great deal from her new contacts.

Find out more about how an executive education at ISM can put you on the path to the C-Suite. Speak to a member of the Admissions Team.

This article was produced by The Local Client Studio and sponsored by ISM.

For members


Should stay-at-home parents in Switzerland be paid a salary?

A new Swiss divorce ruling sparks a proposal that parents who stay at home and take care of children while the other spouse works, should be compensated by the government.

Should stay-at-home parents in Switzerland be paid a salary?
Housework should be compensated by the government, some say. Photo by Guillaume Suivant / AFP

What is the new divorce rule?

Switzerland’s highest court has handed down a decision removing the responsibility of an employed spouse to financially support the partner who has not worked outside of home during marriage.

While the ruling doesn’t mention gender, it particularly affects women.

Specifically, the court lifted the so-called “45-year-old rule”, under which stay-at-home spouses were not obligated to support themselves after divorce, if they were over 45 years old.

In its ruling, the court said that “the possibility of gainful employment must always be assumed” regardless of age, though exemptions could be made in some situations, including care of small children, lack of professional experience, and health.

How has this ruling spawned off the idea of compensating stay-at-home parents?

It came from a Swiss writer and editor Sibylle Stillhart who said in an interview that “finding a well-paying job after not having been employed at all or only part-time for years is not easy, if not impossible”.

She added that taking care of housework and children, requires 58 hours a week of “unpaid labour”.

What does she propose?

She said the state should pay income for domestic work.

“This way, if a couple separates and the woman finds herself with her dependent children and no salaried work, she would nevertheless be supported by the community for the services rendered, in particular for the education of the children who, later, will also contribute to national prosperity through their work”.

Stillhart suggested that a monthly salary of 7,000 francs for a family with two children is fair.

“Don’t tell me that Switzerland is not rich enough for that “, she added.

READ MORE: ‘Unprecedented crisis’: New figures show stark impact of pandemic on all Swiss job sectors

Is this likely to happen?

Rudolf Minsch, economist at Economiesuisse, an umbrella organisation of Swiss businesses, said the proposal is not realistic.

“This would lead to massive tax increases. And it would not be profitable from the point of view of equality between men and women at the professional level, because women could be satisfied with this income and no longer seek to enter the labour market”, he said.

Is this idea new?

Not quite. While it’s the first one of its kind to be created as a response to new divorce rulings, the idea of basic income for everyone in Switzerland was floated around before.

On June 5, 2016, Swiss voters rejected the initiative “For an unconditional basic income”, which proposed that each resident receive 2,500 francs a month, regardless of whether they are employed or not. 

 All the cantons had said no, as had 76.9 percent of the population.

A few cantons stood out by being more open to the idea, such as Basel-City (36 percent in favour), Jura (35.8 percent) and Geneva (34.7 percent).

Despite this rejection, the idea continues to circulate in Switzerland and internationally.

READ MORE: What do teachers earn in Switzerland – and where do they earn the most?