International Women’s Day (IWD), global survey

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Deloitte survey reveals advances in gender diversity but fears of being labeled ‘too bossy’ remain, potentially hindering career progression for women

Press release

Self-confidence ranked higher than technical ability for professional success

New York, NY, 12 March 2015–Sixty-five percent of professionals believe their organization is improving the representation of senior women within their company, citing flexible working programs and gender diversity targets as examples, according to a survey released today by Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (Deloitte Global). However, while 80 percent of respondents believe ideas were welcomed in their organizations regardless of gender, 40 percent said they sometimes hold back their opinion for fear of being labelled ‘bossy’ or ‘too assertive.’

In recognition of International Women’s Day (IWD), the global survey of more than 1700 respondents was undertaken to gain insights into the progress being made to improve gender equality in the workplace. The survey revealed that the majority of respondents believe self-confidence (78 percent) is more important than technical ability (22 percent) for professional success.

“In order to attract and retain the best talent, business must provide an environment that is conducive to professional as well as personal growth,” said Punit Renjen, Deloitte Global CEO-select, during Deloitte Global’s IWD webcast on gender diversity. “Global organizations will only fully thrive once they take action to address the issue of gender diversity. It is not only the right thing to do, but it is the right business thing to do.”

Additionally, the survey found when it comes to sustaining personal and professional excellence, 68 percent of respondents believe it is possible to ‘have it all.’

“It is important that women have the opportunity to balance different priorities at different stages in their career,” Cathy Engelbert, Deloitte U.S. CEO, commented during the webcast. A large part of my career achievements are due to having the courage to ask for what I needed whether in a professional or personal context. Mentors and sponsors, particularly in the early stages of my career were invaluable to me because they encouraged me to raise my hand, and take opportunities to build my capabilities.”

Press contact
Marielle Legair
Global Communications
Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited
Tel: +1 516 918 7170
Mobile: +1 347 213 0933

Additional findings from the survey include:

  • Gender diversity must be treated as a business issue - Less than half of respondents (48 percent) believe gender diversity is treated as a C-suite priority by their executives. This indicates progress is being made, but there is still work to be done.
  • Diversity initiatives are proving effective – Sixty-five percent of respondents reported their organization has taken steps to improve the representation of women in senior positions. Flexible working (45 percent), gender diversity and inclusion targets (28 percent), maternity support (26 percent), paternity leave (26 percent), and executive commitment (23 percent) were cited as the most common initiatives put in place.
  • Top initiatives to support gender diversity - Respondents ranked flexible working, executive commitment, targets, and an agreed and articulated business case for gender diversity as the top priorities for the advancement of women.

About Deloitte Global’s IWD Survey

The online survey ran from Saturday 28 February to Thursday 5 March 2015. All responses were anonymous. The majority of respondents were female (80 percent) and did not have children under 16 living in the home (70 percent). As a follow on, a webcast was hosted by the Deloitte Global Diversity and Inclusion team on Tuesday 10 March 2015. The guest speakers, Katty Kay (Author, Journalist, Lead Anchor BBC News America), Punit Renjen (Deloitte Global CEO-select), and Cathy Engelbert (Deloitte U.S. CEO) addressed topics such as: Can women have it all? And, is sustained personal and professional excellence a promise or just a pipe-dream?  

About Deloitte

Deloitte refers to one or more of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, a UK private company limited by guarantee (“DTTL”), its network of member firms, and their related entities. DTTL and each of its member firms are legally separate and independent entities. DTTL (also referred to as “Deloitte Global”) does not provide services to clients. Please see for a more detailed description of DTTL and its member firms.

Deloitte provides audit, consulting, financial advisory, risk management, tax and related services to public and private clients spanning multiple industries. With a globally connected network of member firms in more than 150 countries, Deloitte brings world-class capabilities and high-quality service to clients, delivering the insights they need to address their most complex business challenges. Deloitte's more than 210,000 professionals are committed to becoming the standard of excellence.

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