NEW YORKMay 27, 2021 – Work ethic, ability to build relationships and passion are key drivers to becoming a business leader according to the new YPOFinancial Times and United Nations Women HeForShe Global Chief Executive Gender Equality research released today at the HeForShe Summit and fielded to uncover groundbreaking insights about the journey to the corner office

Conducted 10-22 March 2021 with 2,079 YPO member chief executives from 106 countries responding, the survey provides needed research on gender specific roadblocks leaders face in their path toward becoming a chief executive and actionable insights on how to remove them for future generations.

Key learnings include:

  • Overall, 57% of global business leader respondents reported that their companies are somewhat or significantly more gender diverse than five years ago.
  • The female leadership journey takes, on average, two years longer.
  • Women-led businesses report more female diversity on their boards, in senior management and in their organizations. Female chief executives reported that 43% of their senior management is female versus 26% at male-run businesses. At the organization level, 48% of the workforce is female at women-led companies; 37% of the workforce is female at male-run companies.
  • Female chief executives are more likely to face “balancing respect with likability” (30%) and “overcoming others’ preconceptions about me” (20%) than their male counterparts.” In contrast, only 9% of male chief executives have had to overcome preconceptions.
  • When asked about “cultural expectations related to gender,” 2% of male respondents reported facing this compared to 47% of female respondents.
  • Seventy-three percent of female respondents compared to 42% of male respondents took leave or sacrificed career advancement because of family needs.

YPO member respondents provided several key insights on how all business leaders can create a more equitable path forward including:

  • Conduct bias training
  • Make recruiting women a priority
  • Support flexible work options

Complete survey results are available on