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Bridging the gender gap: Cultivating a more inclusive mindset amid the pandemic

Mailene Sigue-Bisnar Mailene Sigue-Bisnar

As we adopt a bird’s eye view of the current business landscape, it is easy to be led by the belief that businesses and organizations still have a lot to accomplish in attempting to close the gender gap in corporate management. In a sense, there is truth to this statement. The cutthroat accounting industry, for instance, remains a relatively male-dominated sector. In my industry experience, I can attest that the number of female leaders is still considerably less than male ones.

To address this, many companies have adopted a shift in mindset and made significant strides to address gender inequality in the workplace and help make their business thrive.

As more women open themselves to new opportunities, their roles have also undergone changes. This is the scenario in many firms across the globe. This is apparent in the Asia-Pacific region, particularly in the Philippines. For nearly two decades, Grant Thornton has been at the forefront of tracking the progress of women in securing top leadership posts in several businesses across key industries.

On February 22, Grant Thornton released its Women in Business report, which shows the results of a survey of around 10,000 listed and private businesses in various key growth areas in the world and forms part of the firm’s annual International Business Report. The report showed that a series of unprecedented events in the last 12 months made their mark on women’s progress. For example, the number of women holding senior leadership positions in midmarket firms in the country has reached 48 percent. This is despite the Covid-19 pandemic, which ushered in a new-normal environment of remote workstations and organizational frameworks heavily reliant on the current acceleration toward digital transformation.

The report also showed that the percentage of women in C-suite roles in the Philippines rose as the proportion of chief executive officers (CEOs) rose by 16 percent to 38 percent, and the number of female chief operating officers (COOs) increased by 4 percent to 27 percent.

The positive trajectory in the ratio of women holding senior positions shows a steady improvement in recent years. Figures showing more women occupying leadership posts have also breached the critical 30-percent threshold, the minimum representation needed to change decision-making processes.

The reality behind the figures is that women have begun managing a dual role in the new normal. As more female leaders rise in rank, they have also started to see the benefits of working from home, a setup that has been described as both boon and bane. One benefit of working from home is that it leaves less room for gender-based disparities and discrimination that may happen in physical offices. On top of this, female bosses who are also mothers find the work-from-home setup appealing, as they can homeschool their children and care for their families.

Despite the good news, there remains a lot of challenges to be hurdled, especially now as most economies continue to grapple with the impact of the pandemic. It is still imperative to exert more effort into bridging the gender equality gap still evident in many companies today.

We at P&A Grant Thornton believe that the onus is on companies, from startups to established businesses, to continue supporting diversity. It is crucial we do not lose this window of opportunity. A lot of research highlights the negative impact of the pandemic on women’s employment and career progression, so we must continue to build more diverse and inclusive leadership teams by bridging that gap.

To help foster gender equality, P&A Grant Thornton has launched a three-part webinar series, called “GROW Leadership Series: Growth and Relationships and Opportunities for Women.” Through this series, P&A aims to provide a new avenue of support for women to help boost their physical, emotional and mental health. This may be a small step, but for us at P&A, many great things start out small. For us, this is our way of going beyond expectations to initiate change.

The vision of most businesses must be focused on restrategizing their operational frameworks and cultivating an open mindset that is inclusive for all genders. This way, they can not only champion gender equality, but also go beyond in promoting an atmosphere of change that would enable their business to thrive.

Mai Sigue-Bisnar is a partner of the Audit and Assurance and Advisory Services Divisions of P&A Grant Thornton. P&A Grant Thornton is one of the leading audit, tax, advisory, and outsourcing firms in the Philippines with 22 Partners and more than 900 staff members. We’d like to hear from you. Send us a tweet (@GrantThorntonPH), “like” us on Facebook (P&A Grant Thornton) and email your comments to or For more information, visit


As published in The Manila Times, dated 17 March 2021