A NEW SURVEY showed 37% of senior management positions at Philippine companies are occupied by women, well above the global average of 29%.
While the Philippines ranked first in Asia, the country’s global ranking slipped to fifth this year from first in 2018, according to the “Women in Business 2019” report released by Grant Thornton International Ltd.
The “Women in Business” report, which surveyed 4,900 senior executives in 35 countries, showed New Zealand had the highest proportion of women in senior leadership positions at 43.9%, followed by Australia with 41.94%. Nigeria ranked third with 38.47%, while Botswana was in fourth with 38.25%.
The Philippines’ global ranking dropped to fifth due to a 10-percentage-point drop in the proportion of Filipino women in senior management from 47% in 2018. The percentage of Filipino women in senior management was 40% in 2017, and 39% in 2016.
“The dip does not yet take into account the government’s recent measures to provide flexible working arrangements for women,” the report said.
Marivic C. Españo, P&A Grant Thornton chairperson and chief executive officer, said Filipinas still play significant roles in their organizations. The top three roles of Filipino women in business are human resources director at 75%, chief finance officer at 66%, and chief operating officer at 53%.
“If we want to continue seeing female representation in senior positions, more deliberate action needs to be taken and leaders will play a crucial role,” she said in a statement.
The Women in Business report noted Philippine businesses are taking various measures to improve or preserve the gender balance in leadership teams. These measures include ensuring equal access to development work opportunities (70%), providing mentoring and coaching (66%), and enabling flexible working (56%).
However, the report noted that women leaders still need to take action. In the survey, Filipina executives had cited lack of access to developmental work opportunities (55%), finding time alongside core job responsibilities (51%), and caring responsibilities outside work and lack of access to networking opportunities (both at 47%) as barriers that have blocked them from acquiring the skills and attributes to be successful in their roles.
“Policies that address equal opportunity in careers, bias in recruitment, and flexible working cannot just be nice to have. To achieve meaningful progress, they must be adhered to, enforced, and regularly revisited to assess their effectiveness and, when that is combined with real commitment from senior leadership, you begin creating a truly inclusive culture,” Ms. Españo said.
“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. Furthermore, women and men are equally capable of good leadership; the critical point is that diverse leadership teams tend to outperform their socially homogenous rivals,” she added.
Globally, the percentage of businesses with at least one woman in senior management has risen to 87%, an increase of 12 percentage points since last year. Publicly owned companies are almost twice as likely to have women in senior management positions.
Overall, women now hold 29% of senior leadership positions globally. While this is up only 10 percentage points over the past 15 years of research, half of this increase has been achieved in the past 12 months alone, the report said.
Francesca Lagerberg, global leader at Grant Thornton International, said the figures are “incredibly encouraging and a strong indication that gender parity is starting to be taken seriously by businesses.”
“External factors, such as increasing organizational transparency, gender pay gap reporting, and highly visible public dialogue like the #MeToo movement appear to be making businesses wake up to the change that is needed,” she said.
Grant Thornton is one of the world’s leading independent assurance, tax and advisory firms. — Victor V. Saulon