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Press Release

31% of businesses in Malaysia have no women in senior management – highest in ASEAN

The number of businesses without women holding senior leadership positions in Malaysia has been on an increase ever since year 2012

Kuala Lumpur, 8 March 2016 -- On International Women’s Day, the International Business Report, a global survey done by Grant Thornton reveals a slight uptick of women in senior management positions from 22% to 26%, but 31% of businesses still do not have women in leadership positions in Malaysia.

Dato’ NK Jasani, Country Managing Partner, said: "The number of businesses without women holding senior leadership positions in Malaysia has been on an increase ever since year 2012 (21% to 31%). The survey results show that Malaysia has the highest number of businesses that does not have women in their senior management in the ASEAN region.

“The survey also revealed that in Malaysia, 26% of people in the senior management consists of women. This is an increase from 22% last year but this number is still the lowest among other ASEAN countries. 

Globally, the proportion of senior business roles held by women stands at 24%, up slightly from 22% in 2015. However, this minor uplift has coincided with an increase in the percentage of firms with no women in senior management, at 33% in 2016 compared to 32% last year.

Russia tops the list of individual countries with 45% of senior roles held by women, followed by the Philippines at 39%, where only 9% businesses have no women in senior management.  Two of the poorest performing countries are Japan, with just 7% senior roles held by women, and Germany, with 15%.

In ASEAN, the countries with the highest proportions of leadership roles held by women are Philippines (39%), Thailand (37%) and Indonesia (36%), while the lowest proportions are reported in Malaysia (26%) and Singapore (26%).

Initiatives in Malaysia

“At Grant Thornton Malaysia, we are happy to announce that we have 35% women in the senior management positions. It is our practice and our commitment to have at least 30% of women holding senior management positions in the firm and we are proud to have these women leading teams and steering the firm into greater success.

“Despite the Prime Minister’s call to see women making up 30% of the boards of all public companies and also initiatives such as the launch of the 30% Club in 2015, the results of the survey clearly shows that we are still lacking of women in leadership.

“Businesses in Malaysia could explore several initiatives launched by the Government that benefits both employers and women job seekers to increase the number of women in senior management.

“TalentCorp offers initiatives and grants such as the Career Comeback Grants that aim to encourage employers to recruit and retain women on career breaks, enabling them to expand their talent pool and provide career opportunities for women looking to return to work.

“Businesses can apply a double tax deduction incentive when they hire and train women who are on career breaks and also when they implement or enhance flexible work arrangements and establish a childcare centre and/or support for employees with children. 

“Businesses and women could also explore platforms such as the, which is a collaboration between the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development and TalentCorp. It is useful online portal that features only employers that offer flexible working arrangements and family friendly facilities hence enabling job seekers to optimise work-life integration in their new career.”


What drives women to take leadership roles?

In order to attract women leaders, businesses need to understand what drives women to strive for and take up a leadership position.

Dato’ NK Jasani, Country Managing Partner, said: “42% of women in this survey say that recognition of ability was the strongest driver that contributed to them choosing a senior leadership position. 35% said holding a senior leadership position was to earn a higher salary, 35% said it was for the experience and 31% said it was to empower or to serve others. 

“By recognising these factors, companies should act and improve on these motivating factors.”


What can be done to get more women into senior management roles?

Three key recommendations businesses, governments and women themselves need to put in place to improve gender diversity in business leadership:

1)       Demonstrate demand for the leadership skills women value

Business: Ensure your business is prepared for the complex world – review the way leadership is defined and demonstrated within your organisation

Women: Seek out new experiences to gain a diverse perspective and demonstrate you’ve got the skills businesses need

Government: Demonstrate best practice on diverse leadership

2)      Understand what drives the desire to lead

Business: Promote opportunities for leaders to make a difference. Money matters to women so get it out in the open

Women: Be clear about what you want and ask for it

Government: Enforce transparency on remuneration and push for equal pay

3)      Create an environment that supports women wanting to lead

Business: Identify and address the ingrained beliefs that are holding women back. Support the talent pipeline – provide mentorship and sponsorship programmes

Women: Recognise that you are a role model – and be honest about your experiences of leadership

Government: Ensure flexible, high-quality childcare is affordable and available


To view the full report Women in Business 2016: Turning promise into practice, click here. 

For more information please contact:

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



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