Press Release

Women in Business Report Reveals the State of Workplace Equality Amid the Pandemic

Grant Thornton’s 2021 Women in Business report reveals modest but significant moves toward a more equitable gender balance in the workplace, as 31% of senior positions in mid-market businesses around the world are now held by women.

This figure represents an increase of 2 percentage points over the totals for both 2019 and 2020, following a continued upward trajectory since Grant Thornton began collecting comparable data. Incremental increases have a significant cumulative effect; in 2004, for example, our data found that only 19% of senior positions in mid-market businesses were held by women.

Francesca Lagerberg, global leader at Grant Thornton International Ltd, commented on the findings: “Passing the 30% of women in senior roles globally is an important milestone for businesses, but not the end goal. Those businesses that want to reap the benefits of a better gender balance, must continue to take action to enable women to realise their ambitions.”

A detailed analysis shows that women’s representation has increased more rapidly in some positions than in others. Worldwide, women now make up 26% of mid-market CEOs (up 6 percentage points from a year earlier), 36% of CFOs (up 6pp), and 22% of COOs (up 4pp). The number of women in senior HR roles has actually declined for the past two years, and now stands at 38% (down 2pp).

The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have likely had a mixed impact on the experience of women in business. On one hand, the acceptance and normalisation of work-from-home arrangements may permit female leaders to more easily balance their personal and professional lives – and 69% of respondents in our survey were optimistic that such practices would benefit women’s career trajectories long-term. Yet by remaining at home, and sometimes having the added responsibility of child care during periods of school closure, many women are finding their lives busier than ever.


The View from Thailand

The 2021 Women in Business report found that women presently occupy over 30% of senior management positions in every region in the world – except APAC, where the figure stands at 28%. On this metric, Thailand’s mid-market businesses outperform their regional counterparts (and the global average), with 34% of senior management positions filled by women.

Among the senior positions singled out by our survey, CFOs had the greatest percentage of women (45%), followed by CEO / Managing Director (29%), and COO (24%). These numbers represent modest but real increases over the totals from the previous year.

32% of respondents in Thailand indicated that their organisations set either internal targets or quotas to increase their gender balance, and 32% likewise said that senior management rewards were linked to progress on gender balance targets.

As many businesses restructure and otherwise change course in response to changing conditions brought about by the pandemic, the findings in next year’s Women in Business report should provide a more settled look at how the pandemic is likely to affect diversity trends for the foreseeable future.

"Fairness and equality are important goals in themselves, but there are other reasons to encourage and increase women’s participation at all levels of business and society. Women make up half of the world’s collective talent, and companies can benefit greatly by putting that talent to work.

Research continues to show that more balanced representation also leads to a greater diversity of perspectives – in other words, more ideas. At a time when companies must earnestly begin adapting to an uncertain future, original ideas could dramatically increase the potential for business success."

About the report

Grant Thornton’s Women in Business report compiles responses to detailed questionnaires and interviews with senior representatives of mid-market businesses all over the world. The 2021 report is the product of 4,972 such surveys, including 101 from Thailand alone.

Other key findings from the report relate to ongoing efforts in support of gender equality in the workplace. According to respondents, 82% of mid-market businesses worldwide are actively working to improve their gender balance (up 4pp from 2020). 90% of businesses now have at least one woman in senior management.


Further enquiries, please contact:

Kosol Sruamsri

Corporate Communications Specialist

Grant Thornton Thailand

T: 02 205 8160




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