The last 12 months have marked significant milestones in the women’s rights movement. #Metoo, the overruling of archaic laws in Saudi Arabia and the Republic of Ireland on driving and abortion respectively, and a growing desire for more transparency on equal pay in the corporate world. It’s equally promising to see a drive to progress women into senior leadership roles in education and business.

The launch of Grant Thornton’s 2019 Women in Business report published last month has highlighted some advancements being made. For example, the percentage of businesses globally with at least one woman in senior management has risen to 87%, a growth of 12% over the last 12 months.

Overall, 29% of senior leadership positions globally are now held by women. While this is only up 10% over the past 15 years of research, encouragingly half this increase (5%) has been achieved in the last year alone. So it would appear that we are at last starting to make headway towards an equal playing field.

Nevertheless, there’s much more to be done to get to true gender parity. In 2018 women effectively worked 51 days for free from November 10 until the end of the year. The Rose Review of Female Entrepreneurship highlighted some stark statistics; only 1 in 3 entrepreneurs in the UK are female, less than 1% of UK venture funding goes to all-female founded teams and just 4% of deals.

And while the number of women in senior leadership is increasing, gender parity at the head of the table is still a significant way off. Only 15% of global businesses have a woman in the role of CEO or managing director.

It is business that must lead the way and showcase the successful careers, innovative contributions and the multitude of positives that comes with a gender balanced boardroom and senior team. Doing so is the only way to make sure we see the day we can report on a 50:50 share of leadership roles. To quote from our Women in Business report “lasting diversity can only be achieved by committed action to promote women, through sponsorship and support, by creating opportunities, removing biases and shaping an inclusive culture.”

One of my favourite quotes from the 2019 International Women’s Day campaign is: “Balance is not a women’s issue, it’s a business issue.” Change will only come when we tackle women’s rights as a collective and push for an inclusive culture where everyone feels valued and able to speak up.