Female executives from around the globe see opportunity for their businesses going forward—and this is because of, not despite, factors such as technology growth and the presence of disruptors.

So finds KPMG’s inaugural Global Female Leaders study, which surveyed 699 female leaders from 42 countries and 14 industry sectors, in March and April. A KPMG release says 37% of respondents came from companies with more than US$500 million. 

Out of all women surveyed, 77% see technological disruption “as more of an opportunity than a threat,” the release says. Further, 51% said their companies were disruptors rather than at risk of being disrupted. 

Read: How disruption can lead to undervaluations

A majority (also 77%) were very confident about their companies’ growth potential. There was a link between expansion and innovation, with 93% planning to improve innovation processes and execution over the next three years.

When it comes to technology, most female leaders surveyed (77%) said they will increase their use of predictive data models, while more than half (58%) have already made business decisions based on “data-driven insights.” Also, 48% are comfortable with AI, blockchain, and other technologies. 


Yet, the leaders are aware of the impact of AI on employees’ jobs. Less than half (47%) say technology adoption will create more jobs than it will eliminate—that compares to 62% of CEOs who said the same in KPMG’s 2018 Global CEO Outlook, where only 15% of those surveyed were women. 

Growth expectations

In coming years, a majority of female leaders (73%) expect “top-line revenue growth” of more than 2%, while only 17% expect less. That compares to more than half (55%) of the respondents of the separate CEO survey expecting 2% or less.  

To achieve growth, female leaders (45%) are prioritizing organic growth over making strategic alliances (33%).

Overall, only one-fifth (21%) of the respondents of the Global Female Leaders study said their board of directors “has an unreasonable expectation regarding return on investment related to digital transformation projects,” the release says, which compares to 55% of respondents who took part in the global CEO survey. 

Secret to success

For female executives, strong personal networks and good communication skills are must-haves, according to the new survey. 

Also, when it comes to boosting executive diversity, most of the women surveyed preferred programs that help them gain leadership skills (83%) versus mandated female leadership quotas (only 4%). 

Professional flexibility is also crucial for women, given only 28% plan to advance within their current companies.

Also read:

How gender and risk tolerance impact advice

Management’s gender doesn’t affect U.S. mutual fund performance: Morningstar

Advisors dish up details from the gender divide

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