By THE NATION
This has been driven by improvements in emerging countries in the region, which saw the proportion of senior roles held by women rise from 26 per cent in 2016 to 29 per cent in 2017, while in developed countries the proportion remained static at 13 per cent.
However, the survey also revealed that the proportion of businesses with no women in senior management across the Asia-Pacific region had also risen, from 31 per cent in 2016 to 35 per cent so far this year.
In Thailand, women now hold 31 per cent of senior roles, making it is one of the top three countries in the region after Indonesia (46 per cent) and the Philippines (40 per cent).
This year the research also showed that 25 per cent of businesses in Thailand have no women in senior management, up from 21 per cent last year.
The senior management roles with the most females in Thailand are chief executive officer (40 per cent) and chief financial officer (34 per cent).
Globally, the travel, tourism and leisure industries have the highest proportion of women in senior management, at 37 per cent.
Noel Ashpole, assurance and audit partner at Grant Thornton in Thailand, said businesses across the Asia-Pacific region had increased the proportion of senior roles held by women, but further progress was needed.
In particular, the increase in the percentage of businesses with no women in senior management is disappointing and there is a need for businesses to recognise the untapped potential that women can bring to a management team.
“Whilst Thailand continues to be in the top three countries with women in senior positions, the trend is decreasing, indicating the need for a continued effort to support women in the workplace,” he said.
“These results indicate that we could end up facing the same problem as developed Asia-Pacific countries, which only have 13 per cent [proportion of] women in leadership positions.
“The balance between motherhood and career is one of the biggest challenges for Thai women, since having a family is often a significant priority. As a result, many have to choose between having a family and having a successful and fulfilling career due to the lack in supporting infrastructure.”
Globally, Grant Thornton’s data show developing regions continue to lead the charge on diversity. Eastern Europe performs best, with 38 per cent of senior roles now held by women and just 9 per cent of businesses with no women in senior management.
This is a significant contrast to the major economies of the Group of Seven, which have remained static at 22 per cent of senior roles held by women and 39 per cent of businesses with no women in senior management. Developed Asia-Pacific was at the bottom of the table with just 13 per cent of senior roles held by women and 54 per cent of businesses with no women in senior management, the worst performance of any region on both measures.
“Companies today need to be more productive, more innovative and in many ways more open if they are to grow,” Asphole said. “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.”