• Women in business 2016

Diverse boards continue to bring strength

On International Women’s Day, a global survey by Grant Thornton reveals that the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region continues to make slow progress in getting women into senior roles within companies. Globally, the proportion of senior business roles held by women stands at 24%, up slightly from 22% in 2015.

Russia still has the highest number of women specifically in executive roles (45%), while the lowest proportions are reported in Japan (7%). Just 23% of senior management roles in APAC are held by women. In developed countries across Asia-Pacific this figure has risen to 57% from 53% in 2015, while it has fallen substantially among the regions’ emerging economies to 20% from 29% a year ago. APAC countries with the highest proportion of leadership roles held by women are the Philippines (39%), Thailand (37%) and Indonesia (36%).

Sumalee Chokdeeanant, Audit Partner at Grant Thornton in Thailand said, “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. A well-established culture of women receiving further education and advocacy of women in business has spurred change.”

When we asked senior business people what attribute they thought was most important in good leaders, communication came out on top, with more than a third (35%) of the global leaders saying it was important. However, Thai females in senior management roles think passion (64%) is the most important attribute for good leaders, compared to Thai male leaders who think that integrity (63%) is the most important attribute.

Sumalee continued, “While these results differ greatly, it is encouraging to see a well-rounded view. 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. ”

The IBR report also reveals that just one in three (31%) businesses in the APAC region have no women across their senior management. In Thailand, this number is just 21%, whilst this number in developed APAC rose from 53% last year to 57%. Japan is still ranked lowest globally with the highest percentage (73%) but in Russia is the highest at 0%.

Sumalee added, “In our IBR survey last year we revealed that companies with diverse boards, or those with more women on the board, will have a better financial performance than male-only boards. Research from the Kellogg School of Management and the Scientific American has also shown how heterogeneity can boost decision-making. Therefore, it’s not surprising that many companies worldwide and 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. 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,” Sumalee concluded.