IBR data shows that Malaysia has the lowest senior roles occupied by women in the ASEAN region with only 26% despite being the highest in the region to have the most women in their workforce (40%).

EMBARGOED 8 March 2013, Kuala Lumpur- To mark International Women’s Day 2013, new research from the Grant Thornton International Business Report (IBR) reveals that globally, more women are making it into senior management roles than at any time since 2010. IBR data shows that globally, 24% of senior management roles are now filled by women. This is up from 21% in 2012 and 20% in 2011.

According to the report, China is on top of the table for women in senior management with 51%, followed by Poland (48%) and Latvia (43%). At the bottom of the table, businesses in Switzerland (14%), Netherlands and United Arab Emirates (11%) and Japan (7%) have the lowest number of women holding senior management roles.


ASEAN region

In the ASEAN region, a total of 36% of the workforce are women. The report revealed that Malaysia has the most women in their workforce (40%), followed by Thailand (37%) and Singapore (36%).

The Philippines has the most women in senior management in the region (37%), followed by Thailand (36%) and Vietnam (33%).



IBR data shows that Malaysia has the lowest senior roles occupied by women in the ASEAN region with only 26% despite being the highest in the region to have the most women in their workforce (40%).

The data has also showed that Malaysia is the 3rd lowest globally to have women on board (as Chairman, CEO, CFO, executive and non-executive directors). Russia has the highest number of women on board (37%), followed by Thailand (35%) and Philippines (34%).

The positions held most by women in the senior management are Human Resource Director (37%), Chief Financial Officer (36%) and Sales Director (23%).



Dato’ NK Jasani, Managing Partner of SJ Grant Thornton says, “Women are playing a major role in driving the world’s growth economies, bringing balance to the decision making process and the smooth running of their companies. Businesses need to wake up to gender disparity and add this crucial ingredient to long-term growth and profitability.”

“Gender diversity is good for business as it increases financial performance and enriches brand perception in the marketplace, improves problem-solving, enhances team and individual creativity, and boosts employee satisfaction and retention,” he continued.

“Benefits include revenue growth, improved financial performance, distinctive client service and leveraging talent,” he said.

The emerging market counterparts are reaping the benefits of having more women in senior positions and developed economies should emulate this.


How to get more women in senior roles?

The IBR data reveals that flexible working, while welcomed by many, does not appear to be a determining factor in getting women into top positions. 72% of businesses in the G7 countries provide flexible working while China has the highest number of businesses with women holding senior management roles although only 27% offer flexible working.

Flexible working is not the determining factor in increasing female participation in senior positions. In mature economies, the majority of businesses offer it but that isn’t translating into more women in senior roles or making it on to the board. At the same time, businesses are telling us that they do not believe enforced quotas are the answer.

In addition, 55% of businesses worldwide said they would be against the idea of quotas for the number of women on executive boards of large listed companies.

“In the absence of quotas, what will ultimately spur businesses on to include more women in senior roles is the belief that their performance will improve and their growth will be healthier if they do so. What our research shows is that it is good practice, and those regions adopting it are currently outperforming those who aren’t,” said Dato’ NK Jasani.



For more information please contact:

Sharon Sung, Technical and Corporate Affairs Partner, T  +60 3 2692 4022, 



Charmane Koh, Corporate Affairs Assistant Manager, T  +60 3 2692 4022,