On International Women’s Day, a global survey by Grant Thornton reveals that the Asia Pacific (APAC) region continues to make slow progress in getting women into senior roles within companies. Its latest annual survey of 5,520 businesses in 36 economies highlights that almost one in three (31%) businesses have no women in leadership positions in APAC region.
In Singapore, the number is 25%, moving from 18% last year. In developed countries across APAC, this figure has risen to 57% from 53% in 2015, while it has fallen substantially among the regions’ emerging economies to 20% from 29% a year ago.
According to a new research by Grant Thornton in a report titled, ‘Women in Business 2016: Turning Promise into Practice’ finds that just 23% of senior management roles in APAC are held by women. The APAC countries with the highest proportions of leadership roles held by women are Philippines (39%), Thailand (37%) and Indonesia (36%), while the lowest proportions are reported in Japan (7%), New Zealand (19%) and Australia (23%).
In Singapore, that number is 26%, just slightly above average. Lorraine Parkin, Head of Indirect Tax APAC, said: “The global trend of emerging economies outperforming their developed peers when it comes to diversity in business leadership is particularly visible in the APAC region. The Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia are among the world’s ten best-performing nations when it comes to the occupation of senior business positions by women. In these nations, a well-established culture of women receiving further education and advocacy of the women in business cause has spurred change.”
“Meanwhile, progress in developed economies is simply not happening fast enough. Japan continues to have the world’s lowest proportion of senior women in leadership roles and, despite the introduction of paid maternity leave in Australia five years ago, the proportion of female senior managers in the country has increased very little since then.”
“There is no one size fits all solution to the world’s leadership diversity shortfall but, as outlined in our new report, achieving progress will require the collaboration of companies, governments and women.”
Globally, the proportion of senior business roles held by women stands at 24%, up slightly from 22% in 2015. However, this minor uplift has coincided with an increase in the percentage of firms with no women in senior management, at 33% in 2016 compared to 32% last year.
The G7 is among the worst performing regions worldwide, with just 22% of senior roles occupied by women and 39% of companies with no women in senior roles. Meanwhile Eastern Europe reports the highest proportions of senior roles held by women at 35%, and just 16% of firms with no women in senior management.
Parkin added: “Companies across developed nations have talked the talk on diversity in leadership for long enough. It’s time to put their promises into practice and deliver results. We know that businesses with diverse workforces can outperform their more homogenous peers and are better positioned to adapt to a rapidly changing global business environment.”
“Despite considerable efforts by governments and campaigners across the world’s best developed economies to ensure best practice they continue to lag behind emerging markets in this area. The G7 countries could learn from Eastern Europe, where historic maxims around equality have created social norms in which women in business are not seen as a rarity or unconventional and high-quality childcare is attached to many workplaces.”