ON INTERNATIONAL Women’s Day, a new report based on Grant Thornton’s annual survey of 5,500 businesses in 36 economies reveals that the proportion of senior business roles held by women in APAC has risen from 23% in 2016 to 25% in 2017.

This has been driven by improvement in Emerging APAC – such as the Philippines, India, and Indonesia – which saw the proportion of senior roles held by women rise from 26% in 2016 to 29% in 2017. On the other hand, developed APAC – comprised of Japan and Australia, among others, – remained static at 13%.

In the Philippines, 40% of senior roles are held by women in 2017. This has increased from 39% of last year. Additionally, the survey reports that 21% of businesses have women CEOs while 14% have women COOs.

Meanwhile, other APAC countries have also seen a rise in senior positions held by women. Indonesia has seen an increase from 36% last year to 46% this year. In Singapore, the number has gone up as well from 26% to 30% while mainland China saw a rise from 30% to 31%.

However, there are other countries that have seen either a decline or static in number such as Japan which has remained unchanged at 7% while Malaysia dropped to 24% from last year’s 26%. Also, the percentage of businesses with no women in senior management across APAC has also risen, from 31% in 2016 to 35% in 2017.

Marivic Españo, Chairperson & CEO at P&A Grant Thornton, said: “This year businesses across APAC have increased the proportion of senior roles held by women. However, we are still only halfway there, and with the percentage of businesses with no women in senior management also rising it feels as if we’re taking one step forward and one step back. This is a real concern for business growth as it suggests we aren’t maximising the potential out there.”

As the issue of uncertainty dominates the business agenda in 2017, Grant Thornton’s report, Women in Business: New perspectives on risk and reward, highlights the importance of gender diversity in senior teams tasked with managing risk.

Globally, Grant Thornton’s data shows developing regions continue to lead the change on diversity with developed economies lagging behind. Eastern Europe performs best, with 38% of senior roles held by women in 2017 and just 9% of businesses with no women in senior management. Meanwhile the MINT economies (Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey) saw the most improvement, with the proportion of senior roles held by women rising from 24% in 2016 to 28% in 2017 and the percentage of businesses with no women in senior management falling from 36% in 2016 to 27% in 2017.

This is a significant contrast to the major economies of the G7, which have remained constant at 22% of senior roles held by women and 39% of businesses with no women in senior management. Españo commented: “The data for major economies is discouraging. The reasons for this lack of progress are many and varied, and they depend on the culture of individual businesses and the broader culture of the country or region in which they sit.

However, this year we encountered a concerning sense that the issue has plateaued, as companies perhaps assume the diversity challenge has been dealt with. The evidence tells us this is not the case.

“Companies today need to be more productive, more innovative and in many ways more open if they are to grow. Diversity will be key to their success. Those that remain closed are putting themselves at risk of not tapping in to their full potential, and losing access to diversity of thinking.”


As published in Mindanao Times, dated 08 March 2017