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Study: Latin America to Lead With Number of Professional Working Women by 2025

FILE - Employees of multinational headhunter Korn/Ferry work at the company's offices in Caracas, Venezuela, Aug. 3, 2015.

Latin America is projected to have the world's highest proportion of professional working women by 2025, overtaking Europe and North America, Mercer consulting firm said on Wednesday.

Asia is expected to remain the region with the lowest proportion of such women, according to Mercer.

The projections are based on a survey of 583 organizations in 42 countries in Europe, Asia, Australia and New Zealand, and the Americas. The organizations employ 3.2 million people.

The analysts looked at what the organizations were doing to support women in the workplace and how this would affect the proportion of female staff at professional level and above.

"The traditional methods of advancing women aren't moving the needle, and under-representation of women around the world has become an economic and social travesty," said Pat Milligan, Mercer's global leader of When Women Thrive.

When Women Thrive was established in 2014 to help organizations drive growth through the active and productive participation of their female workforce.

In Latin America, women are more likely than men to be promoted from every level, and twice as likely to be promoted from the senior manager level, the study said.

Women there are projected to make up 44 percent of executives in 2025, a rise from 17 percent today, given current hiring, promotion and retention rates, Mercer said.

At the professional level and above Latin America is projected to increase women's representation from 36 percent in 2015 to 49 percent in 2025, followed by Australia and New Zealand moving from 35 percent to 40 percent.

The United States and Canada are set to change by just 1 percent from 39 percent to 40 percent, with Europe remaining unchanged at 37 percent in 2015 and 2025.

Asia is expected to rank last at 28 percent, up from just 25 percent in 2015.

FILE - Female office workers head to their workplace during morning rush hour in Tokyo.
FILE - Female office workers head to their workplace during morning rush hour in Tokyo.

Globally women are expected to comprise 40 percent of the workforce at the professional level and above by 2025.

Although organizations in all the regions surveyed were committed to improving gender equality, the current means of hiring, promoting and retention of women are not enough to close the gap between men and women in the next decade.

"In 10 years, organizations won't even be close to gender equality in most regions of the world," Milligan said.

"If CEOs want to drive their growth tomorrow through diversity, they need to take action today," she added.

Hiring rates in Europe for women at the top of organizations are almost double those for men, but women of the highest rank are also more likely than men to leave.

"Quotas and targets in the U.K. and Europe have had a big impact in boosting female representation in senior roles. But in this region in particular there is a disturbing revolving door," said Julia Howes, principal at Mercer.

"While organizations are focused on recruiting women at the top, they are not developing them from within with the same focus ... and that could threaten the progress they've made, unless they act now," Howes added.