Global survey finds increase in proportion of senior Asia Pacific business roles held by women, as emerging economies drive improvements in diversity

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, which saw the proportion of senior roles held by women rise from 26% in 2016 to 29% in 2017, while Developed APAC remained static at 13%.

However, the percent age of businesses withno women in senior management across APAC has also risen, from 31% in 2016 to 35% in 2017.

In China, 31% of senior roles are held bywomen in 2017, up from 30% last year, and 23% of businesses have no women insenior management, up from 16% last year.

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 diversityin senior teams tasked with managing risk.

Xu Hua, CEO of Grant Thornton China said:“This year businesses across APAC have increased the proportion of senior rolesheld 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.”

Globally, Grant Thornton’s data shows developing regions continue to lead the charge 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 nowomen 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 static at 22% of senior roles held by women and 39% of businesses with no women in senior management. Developed APAC was bottom of the table with just 13% of senior roles held by women and 54% of businesses with no women in senior management, the worst performance of any region on both measures.

Xu Hua commented: “The data for major economies is discouraging. The reasons for this lack of progress are many andvaried, 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 weencountered a concerning sense that the issue has plateaued, as companies perhaps assume the diversity challenge has been dealt with. The evidence tellsus this is not the case.

“Companies today need to be moreproductive, more innovative and in many ways more open if they are to grow. Diversitywill be key to their success. Those that remain closed are putting themselvesat risk of not tapping in to their full potential, and losing access todiversity of thinking.”

Please check the full report of  

Women in Business_2017:New perspectives ? on risk and reward