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Just two-fifths (41 per cent) of global employers say they’ve attained full gender equity, according to a new survey by ManpowerGroup.

The survey, which polled more than 40,000 employers in 42 countries, found 52 per cent reported pay equity initiatives are on schedule, while the remaining 48 per cent were behind or had no initiatives. A third (30 per cent) of organizations said leadership development programs are effectively narrowing gaps that historically have prevented promotion to management.

More than a third (37 per cent) of employers confirmed flexible working policies are most effective for retaining and attracting diverse talent. Other top initiatives were leadership development (30 per cent), inclusive culture (29 per cent), coaching/mentoring (28 per cent) and academic partnerships (24 per cent).

Read: Just 41% of U.S. workers believe employer has achieved pay equity: survey

Efforts to expand the number of women candidates varied by role type, with administrative (51 per cent) and operational (48 per cent) positions leading the way. Less female representation was seen in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (43 per cent) and top-level management (42 per cent).

Roughly two-thirds (65 per cent) of employers said new technology has helped them be more flexible, promoting more gender equality. In addition, 62 per cent said technology is diversifying their information technology talent pipelines, 61 per cent cited advancing technology as helping gender equality and 52 per cent said AI-based tools are aiding with the recruitment of the best candidates regardless of gender.

“In a world of talent shortages, we need everyone contributing to employment in a meaningful way,” said Becky Frankiewicz, chief commercial officer at ManpowerGroup, in a press release. “Bringing women into the workforce with an equal playing field is an economic imperative, not a nice-to-have. Actively upskilling, empowering allyship, leveraging technology to enable flexibility — this is how we unlock potential and growth, both for women and organizations.”

Read: Canada lags behind peer countries on female representation in management: report