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Grant Thornton’s Women in Business 2019 Report: Encouraging Signs in Thailand, Though Equal Representation Remains Elusive

  • 86% of Thai companies surveyed have 1 or more women in senior management roles
  • Only 6% of companies across ASEAN have no women in senior positions
  • 33% of surveyed companies in Thailand have women in a CEO / managing director position
  • The proportion of women in senior leadership positions is far more advanced in Thailand’s business community than in government

Bangkok, 8 March 2019The latest research from Grant Thornton International reveals increasing numbers of women in senior management positions, both globally and across the region. ASEAN in particular has outperformed the global average in several indicators, with 94% of companies across the region now reporting at least one woman in a senior management role, compared to 87% worldwide.

Thailand’s progress here is particularly encouraging, as 33% of CEO / managing director roles belong to women nationwide – well above the ASEAN rate (21%), and more than double the global average (15%). Outside of CEOs / 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%), Chief Operating Officers (17%) and Chief Marketing Officers (16%).

, 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% of parliament. It will be interesting to see whether the recent cultural shift on this issue has an effect on the coming elections.”

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 rich snapshot of the current 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%), enabling flexible working (28%), and reviewing recruitment approaches (22%). Setting gender quotas, rewarding progress towards targets, and mentoring were among several other options pursued by respondents. Fully 13%, however, reported taking no action to improve the gender balance within their organizations.

For women in leadership positions, several barriers to progress were commonly cited. These included 31% of female respondents reporting that they were limited by their caring responsibilities outside work. Nearly 29% had trouble finding enough time alongside core job responsibilities, and 24% 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 also 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. 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.”


Notes to editors:

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

Questionnaires are translated into local languages and fieldwork is undertaken on a biannual basis, through both online and telephone interviews. The data for this release is from interviews conducted in November 2018 with chief executive officers, managing directors, chairperson or other senior executives from all industry sectors.

For the purposes of this research, senior management is defined as those holding C-suite jobs, such as chief executive officer (CEO), chief operating officer (COO) or chief finance officer (CFO), managing directors or partners.

About Grant Thornton in Thailand

Grant Thornton (Thailand) is a leading advisory firm with more than 270 experts who provide professional business consultancy on audit and assurance, tax and legal, advisory, business process solutions, talent acquisition management and other services enhancing our clients’ success. We provide integrated knowledge and skills, including the linkage and access to our global Grant Thornton network. We focus on our clients’ goals and achievement, including value added services, good relationship and teams, marking Grant Thornton as the leading consultancy firm for truly business growth. For further information, please visit

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