More women are managers in businesses than ever before but only about five percent are chief executives of the world’s largest companies, according to a new report.

The Dominican Republic is the country with the highest percentage (55.8 percent) of women holding senior and middle-level managerial roles, while Jamaica tops the list of countries with the highest number of women managers overall (59.3 percent), followed by Colombia (53.1 percent), a report by the International Labour Organization (ILO) found.

Yemen ranks last with only two percent of management posts held by women.

“As documented in the report, evidence-based public policy design and gender-smart private sector practices can make a big difference in leveling the playing field for women in management,” said Henriette Kolb, head of the Gender Secretariat at the International Financial Corporation, a part of the World Bank Group.

For example, she noted that in the case of the Dominican Republic, firm-level gender certification programs were established.

The United States takes 15th place on the list with women representing just over 40 percent of all managers, while Britain is number 41 (34.2 percent) among the 108 countries examined by the report.

However, the UK is among the four countries, including Sweden, Norway and Finland, where women hold over 20 percent of board seats. Portugal, India and the United Arab Emirates are among the worst performers with less than five percent of board positions held by women.

There are more women in paid employment than ever before and their growing presence in the job market has been the biggest engine of global growth and competitiveness, the ILO said.

According to several studies examined by the ILO, companies with more women in top roles tend to perform better, but the organisation was cautious in establishing a direct causal link.

Women hold over 40 percent of jobs globally. They own and run 30 percent of the world’s businesses, but female leadership tends to be more common in small enterprises.

Despite significant strides, experts remain cautious in declaring that the so-called “glass ceiling” has been shattered.

“There is a long way to go before we achieve true gender equality in the workplace, especially when it comes to top management positions,” said Deborah France-Massin, director of the ILO Bureau for Employers’ Activities.

“‘Glass walls’ still exist with the concentration of women in certain types of management functions like human resources, communications and administration.”

This article is published in collaboration with Thomson Reuters Foundation Publication does not imply endorsement of views by the World Economic Forum.

To keep up with Forum:Agenda subscribe to our weekly newsletter.

Author: Maria Caspani is a journalist at the Thomson Reuters Foundation, covering humanitarian crisis and women’s rights

Image: A woman stands in her office in front of a window. REUTERS.