Every year, the 20-first Global Gender Balance Scorecard looks at a single measure of progress: the gender balance of the Executive Committee of the TOP 100 companies in three key regions of the globe.

A growing number of studies show the correlation between gender balance in leadership and improved corporate performance. The complementary skills and styles of men and women have a positive impact on business. Not surprising, when most of the educated talent in the world and a majority of the consumer market is female.

Today, more and more companies are waking up to this 21st century reality and have begun to make gender balance in leadership a strategic priority. Let’s take a look at last year’s scorecard on where the top companies around the world are on their gender journey. The descriptions below explain where companies are in terms of progress.

ASLEEP: Some companies haven’t even started the journey; we put them in our ‘Asleep’ category. These companies are still, in 2014, pictures of imbalance. They are run by an exclusively male team. TOKEN: Less than 15% of both genders on the Executive Team. In this category, the individual(s) is in a staff or support function rather than a line or operational role. STARTING SMART: Next are the ‘Starting Smart’ companies. They also have less than 15% of both genders in the mix, but they are in a central core or operational role, sometime even CEO. PROGRESSING: Reached a minimum of between 15% and 24% of both genders on their top team. CRITICAL MASS: These are companies that have achieved a balance of at least 25% of both genders, but less than 40%. BALANCED: The rare companies that have achieved gender balance, with a minimum 40% of both genders on the Executive Team. This is where balance at the top begins to reflect the reality of 21st century customers, leadership and talent and gives companies the competitive edge to innovate and deliver value sustainably and globally.

gender equality