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Grant Thornton: Women senior managers second-highest in Asia

Released at: 11:07, 11/03/2019

Grant Thornton: Women senior managers second-highest in Asia

Photo: Grant Thornton Vietnam

Number of Vietnamese women leaders increased 12% in 2018 against 2017.

by Khanh Chi

The percentage of businesses globally with at least one woman in senior management has risen to 87 per cent, an increase of 12 per cent over the course of the last year, according to the latest “Women in Business” research from Grant Thornton International.

Overall, women now hold 29 per cent of senior leadership positions globally. While this is only up 10 per cent over the past 15 years of research, half of this increase (5 per cent) has been achieved in the last 12 months alone. In ASEAN, the proportion of businesses with at least one woman in senior management is 94 per cent and the proportion of senior roles held by women is 28 per cent.

While the number of women in senior leadership is increasing, gender parity at the head of the table is still a significant way off. When it comes to the roles of CEO or Managing Director, only 15 per cent of businesses globally have a woman leading the business.

In ASEAN, the proportion of women in senior leadership is higher than elsewhere around the world. Thirty-six per cent of senior management teams in Vietnam include women, the second highest among Asian nations, while the Philippines ranked first with 37.46 per cent. Following were Singapore (33.04 per cent), Indonesia (31.85 per cent), South Korea (29.89 per cent), India (28.16 per cent), the UAE (24.17 per cent), Malaysia (22.68 per cent), Thailand (19.39 per cent), and Japan (15.43 per cent).

The report showed that the top four roles held by Vietnamese women are Chief Financial Officer (36 per cent), Chief Executive Officer or Managing Director (30 per cent), and Human Resources Director and Chief Marketing Officer (both 25 per cent).

“Vietnam ranking second-highest for women in leadership is not unusual,” said Ms. Nguyen Thi Vinh Ha, National Head of Advisory Services and Deputy General Director at Grant Thornton Vietnam. “In our country, women in business always play significant roles. We are proud of having many influential and inspirational female leaders and look forward to a generation of successors. These figures are incredibly encouraging. We expect a stronger change in women in leadership in businesses, not only in private equity.”

Barriers to Vietnamese female leaders

Global (%)

Vietnam (%)

Access to developmental work opportunities



Access to networking opportunities



Care responsibilities outside of work



Finding the time alongside core job responsibilities



“If we want to continue seeing female representation trend upwards in senior positions, more deliberate action needs to be taken and leaders will play a critical role,” said Mr. Kenneth Atkinson, Executive Chairman of Grant Thornton Vietnam. “Policies that address equal opportunity in career development, bias in recruitment, and flexible working can’t just be something that is ‘nice to have’. To achieve meaningful progress, policies 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.”

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