The Asia-Pacific region continues to make slow progress in getting women into senior corporate roles, though Thailand is among those bucking the trend, according to professional-services provider Grant Thornton.
Asia-Pacific countries with the highest proportion of leadership roles held by women are the Philippines (39 per cent), Thailand (37 per cent) and Indonesia (36 per cent).
Globally, the proportion of senior business roles held by women stands at 24 per cent, up slightly from 22 per cent last year.
Russia still has the most women specifically in executive roles (45 per cent), while the lowest proportion is reported in Japan (7 per cent).
Just 23 per cent of senior management roles in the Asia-Pacific region are held by women. In developed countries across the region, this figure has risen to 57 per cent from 53 per cent in 2015, while it has fallen substantially among the region’s emerging economies to 20 per cent from 29 per cent.
“In Thailand, we’ve consistently held a leading position among the world’s best-performing nations when it comes to the occupation of senior business roles by women,” Sumalee Chokdeeanant, audit partner at Grant Thornton in Thailand, said yesterday.
“A well-established culture of women receiving further education and advocacy of women in business has spurred change.”
When senior businessmen were asked what attribute they thought was most important in good leaders, communication came out on top at 35 per cent. However, Thai women in senior management roles think passion (64 per cent) is the most important attribute for good leaders, compared with male Thai leaders who think that integrity (63 per cent) is the most important attribute.
“While these results differ greatly, it is encouraging to see a well-rounded view,” Sumalee said.
“In the past, many businesses were handed down from parents and there were different expectations for male and females leaders in those family businesses. This result shows that this can still be found in Thailand today, and this adds to the strength of diversity for most companies.”
Just one-third of Asia-Pacific businesses have no women in senior management. In Thailand, it is just 21 per cent, while the proportion in the region’s developed countries rose from 53 per cent last year to 57 per cent. Japan still has the highest proportion of businesses with no female senior managers (73 per cent), but in Russia the proportion is zero.
Companies with diverse boards, or those with more women on the board, have better financial performance than male-only boards.
Research from the Kellogg School of Management and Scientific American has also shown how heterogeneity can boost decision-making, so it’s not surprising that many companies worldwide, including in Thailand, are trying to promote this issue.
“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,” Sumalee said.
“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.
“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,” she said.