By Romelda C. Ascutia

The Philippines is one of the top countries in the world in terms of the proportion of women holding senior management positions in business, according to a new global study by international professional services firm Grant Thornton.

Women business leaders account for 40% of the members of senior management teams in the Philippine corporate world, earning recognition for the country for its embrace of diversity, said the 2017 study entitled “Women in Business: New Perspectives on Risk and Reward,” released this March.

Along with the Philippines, receiving top marks as well for diversity in the workplace are Russia (with 47% of senior business leaders being women), Indonesia (46%), Estonia (40%), Poland (40%), and Lithuania (37%).

But in some nations, prospects for women in business are less bright. Among those cited for having male-dominated senior management teams are Japan (only 7% are female), Argentina (15%), India (17%), Germany (18%), Brazil (19%), and the United Kingdom (19%).

Globally, the report said, women now hold 25% of senior management roles at companies. This, however, is up by just one percentage point from 2016 and an improvement of only 6% since research began in 2004, Grant Thornton said in the report issued in conjunction with International Women’s Day.

On the other hand, the percentage of companies that have no female participation at senior level rose by a percentage point in 2017 to 34%.

“Globally, one in four senior roles is now held by a woman. This is a slight increase from last year. But the proportion of businesses with no women in senior leadership positions has also risen,” said the report.

Once again, it added, developing countries are leading the charge on diversity, with many major economies continuing to lag behind.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, is the most diverse, with 36% of females in senior business posts, up from 34% in 2016.

In contrast, developed Asia-Pacific has a staggering 54% of business that had no women in senior roles, compared to only 13% of companies that did.

In terms of senior management roles, 23% of human resources directors worldwide are represented by women in 2017, unchanged from 2016. Female chief financial officers comprise 19% of total CFOs, down from 21% in 2016, while women chief executive officers rose to 12% this year from 9% last year.

Meanwhile female chief operating officers in 2017 are recorded at 9% from 8% in 2016; chief marketing officers have an 8% share of total CMO posts, a decline from 11% last year; corporate controllers 8% from 10%; and sales director 6% in 2017, a pullback from 8% in 2016.

According to the annual report, geopolitical and macroeconomic uncertainties are pushing diversity down the list of priorities for companies. “Leaders are concerned with reducing costs and retaining talent, relegating diversity to a nice-to-have rather than a must-have,” it noted.

The study said more needs to be done to level the playing field for women at all levels of the corporate ladder, emphasizing that diversity is key to business success.

“Diverse teams benefit from connections to a wider network, increased legitimacy among stakeholders and better decision-making,” said the report.

It recommended steps to have more diversity in leadership roles, such as implementing organization-wide changes, creating conductive environments, and sponsoring more women to climb the corporate ladder instead of only offering mentoring.

The findings for the 2017 report were based on a survey of 5,500 businesses across 36 countries conducted between July and December 2016.

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Featured Photo Courtesy of The Filipino Times

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