Female leaders embrace disruption, trust data and are realistic about future growth: KPMG International

Female leaders embrace disruption, trust data and are realistic about future growth: KPMG International

Female leaders embrace disruption, trust data and are realistic about future growth: KPMG International

The FINANCIAL -- KPMG launches first Global Female Leaders study

Female business executives are well-prepared for the challenges of the digital age, with more than three-quarters (77 percent) seeing technological disruption as more of an opportunity than a threat, KPMG's first Global Female Leaders (GFLs) study shows. Half of GFLs (51 percent) believe their company to be the disruptor of their sector, rather than being disrupted by competitors. This finding, among others, presents a striking contrast to the recently launched KPMG 2018 Global CEO Outlook, where only 15 percent of the respondents were female (reflecting the current under-representation of women in CEO roles). But there are also differences with a majority of GFLs (77 percent) who are very confident about growth potential for their company, down from 90 percent of their largely male counterparts.

"Digital transformation begins with a comprehensive understanding of our clients' current and future needs," said Susan Ferrier, Global Head of People, KPMG International. "The Global Female Leaders interviewed appear strongly positioned to drive growth and profitability for their companies."

Comfortable with digitalization, technology and data

93 percent see the need to improve innovation processes and execution over the next 3 years.

77 percent will increase usage of predictive data models/analytics.

58 percent have made strategic decisions based on data-driven insights -- rather than overlooking the data based on intuition over the last 3 years.

48 percent feel comfortable with new technologies like AI, blockchain, mixed reality and 3-D printing.

Only 21 percent of GFLs think that their board of directors has an unreasonable expectation regarding return on investment related to digital transformation projects. In comparison, 55 percent of respondents to CEO Outlook believe this to be true.

"Digital transformation offers unlimited opportunities for businesses," explains Angelika Huber-Straßer, Head of Corporates at KPMG in Germany. "However, the speed in which decisions have to be made, for example, in response to customer expectations, is constantly increasing. Female leaders possess the skills and the strength to lead their companies through these disruptive and exciting times."

Largely optimistic about growth potential, growth strategies and headcount

73 percent expect top-line revenue growth over 2 percent, while only 17 percent expect less than 2 percent; compared to more than half (55 percent) of their largely male counterparts who do not expect more than 2 percent top-line growth.

As for growth strategies, GFLs have their sights set on organic growth, with 45 percent seeing it as the best growth strategy. In comparison, the CEO Outlook finding is 28 percent for organic growth, second to strategic alliances at 33 percent.

77 percent see technological disruption as more of an opportunity than a threat.

58 percent have made strategic decisions based on data-driven insights -- rather than overlooking the data based on intuition.

77 percent are confident about the growth potential for their company.

But only 28 percent see their next career step within their existing company.


These results are aligned with expectations for headcount growth, with 33 percent of GFLs indicating an increase by 6 percent or more, compared to 37 percent of CEOs.

However, GFLs are more cautious when it comes to the impact of AI on headcount with only 47 percent saying that it will create more jobs than it will eliminate. In comparison, 62 percent of CEOs said the same.

Confident about success factors, quotas and expectations

GFLs are agile and know their strengths; however, they still see the need for cultural changes in order to support gender equality.

Only 28 percent see their next career step within their existing company.

Eight in 10 (83 percent) see enablement programs for women as a good means of bringing more females into leadership positions. This despite the fact that, when asked for their personal success factors, female leadership quotas were cited as being the least relevant (4 percent).

Strong personal networks and good communication skills are the top two most important factors cited for personal success.

Ferrier adds, "Women's voices are essential in bringing a more diverse and inclusive perspective. The Global Female Leaders interviewed understand that leadership in the digital age must embrace diverse