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Thai women lead Asean peers in top management

Mar 07. 2019
Melea Cruz
Melea Cruz
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THAILAND is performing better than its Asean peers in the proportion of women in top management, with a third of positions for chief executives and managing directors being held by them, a survey shows.

The Asean rate for women at this level is 21 per cent, according the results of the survey, released by Grant Thornton International yesterday. Thailand’s rate of 33 per cent is more than double the global average of 15 per cent.

 Outside of CEOs and managing directors, companies in Thailand also feature women in other key roles. The next highest percentages of women in senior positions are chief finance officers (26 per cent), chief operating officers (17 per cent) and chief marketing officers (16 per cent).

Melea Cruz, a partner at Grant Thornton in Thailand, put the survey results in perspective. “While these figures fall short of the equal outcomes that we all want to see, they continue to show that the business community is outperforming the political system here in Thailand.

“There are currently no female cabinet ministers at all, and women make up just 5 per cent of parliament. It will be interesting to see whether the recent cultural shift on this issue has an effect on the coming elections.”

The research also shows that the number of women in senior management positions is rising, both globally and within regions. Asean, in particular, has outperformed the global average in several indicators, with 94 per cent of companies across the region now reporting at least one woman in a senior management |role, compared to 87 per cent worldwide.

Based on a Grant Thornton International survey of nearly 5,000 CEOs, managing directors, chairs and other senior leaders worldwide, the data in this year’s survey offers a snapshot of the state of progress for women in the workforce. The survey also explores some of the actions taken by businesses to move towards a more even gender balance among their leadership teams.

The three most common actions taken by businesses in Thailand involved creating an inclusive culture (37 per cent), enabling flexible working (28 per cent), and reviewing recruitment approaches (22 per cent). Setting gender quotas, rewarding progress towards targets, and mentoring were among several other options pursued by respondents. Fully 13 per cent, however, reported taking no action to improve the gender balance within their organisations.

For women in leadership positions, several barriers to progress were commonly cited. These included 31 per cent of female respondents reporting that they were limited by their caring responsibilities outside work. Nearly 29 per cent had trouble finding enough time alongside core job responsibilities, and 24 per cent mentioned a lack of access to networking opportunities.

With women’s issues now discussed prominently in culture and media, due in large part to the MeToo movement, businesses in many countries are beginning to pay closer attention to addressing gender imbalances within the workplace. Beyond simply improving their company image, these equality initiatives can also redound to the benefit of the businesses themselves.

Melea explained some of these advantages. 

“In addition to gender diversity being the right thing to do, it is right for business. 

“There is compelling evidence of the relationship between diversity of thought and innovation, leading to enhanced business performance.” she said. “Moreover, women and men have different backgrounds and experiences, which lead to different perspectives on everything from strategy to execution.

“It isn’t just talent that increases when companies begin putting women in the boardroom. It’s the diversity of viewpoints and ideas that can show the way forward.”

The Grant Thornton International Business Report (IBR) is a survey of listed and privately held businesses. Launched in 1992, the IBR now provides insight into the views of more than 10,000 businesses across 35 economies.


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