The percentage of senior roles filled by women in 2014 remained flat, 24%, the same as in 2013, 2009 and 2007 and only 5% up from a decade ago, a survey by Grant Thornton International revealed.

The annual Grant Thornton Business Report (IBR) found that regionally, there has been very little significant change over the past decade according to the global network with Eastern Europe (37%), Southeast Asia (35%) and China (38%) leading the way. Some of the lowest levels were recorded in Japan (9%), India and the United Arab Emirates (both 14%).

Grant Thornton International global leader for tax services Francesca Lagerberg said "The concern is that recent improvements in the access of women to education, especially in emerging markets, has not translated into higher proportions of women reaching the top of the corporate ladder."

"And while women are more likely to achieve these senior roles in emerging markets, there has been a worrying lack of movement globally over the past decade. This is clear evidence that we need actions rather than words. I would like to see businesses and governments implementing measures that support the career paths of women. Nothing should be left off the table."

The IBR research also recorded a growing support for the introduction of quotas to get more women on boards.

Globally, 45% of surveyed business leaders would now like to see quotas for the numbers of women on the boards of large listed companies, up from 37% in 2013.

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Grant Thornton International said support has grown sharply in the EU (from 33% to 41%) where the imposition of quotas are most likely, but also in the BRIC economies (41% to 72%) while support remains high in Latin America (68%) and Asia Pacific (57%).

Across the G7, however, only 33% of business leaders are in support of quotas.

The IBR survey is based on 6,700 interviews conducted with chief executives and senior business leaders from mid-market companies of 45 different economies and all industry sectors.

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Women in business: from classroom to boardroom