For 17 years, Grant Thornton has been tracking the global progress of women in senior management. In the last 12 months, unprecedented events have had an unforeseen and unparalleled impact on that progress. The coronavirus pandemic has driven a fundamental shift in global working practices. It has forced millions into a remote working model. It has exposed weaknesses in supply chains; caused businesses to assess the factors essential to survival; and underlined the mid-market as the beating heart of many sectors, central to keeping economies functioning.

At the same time, expansive popular movements including Black Lives Matter, FareShare and Extinction Rebellion have shone a harsh light on inequalities and exclusion in society and the workplace, and the need for changes to business practices in order to create sustainable growth. Environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues are in the spotlight. And political upheaval has driven expectation for greater diversity and representation at the highest levels. Businesses and their leaders are being held publicly accountable, and the risks for those not truly committed to inclusion are high.