Philippines slips in global ranking on women in business

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By Louella Desiderio/The Philippine Star – The Philippines saw its overall ranking drop to fifth place in the Grant Thornton International Ltd.’s Women in Business report this year from first place a year ago, but it still topped the list in Asia.

The country’s ranking dipped following a 10 percent drop in the percentage of Filipino women in senior management to 37.46 percent this year from 47 percent last year.

Grant Thornton’s latest report is based on a survey of more than 4,900 senior executives and decision-makers in 35 countries.

The report did not take into account the Philippine government’s recent measures to provide flexible working arrangements for women.

Topping this year’s list is New Zealand, with 43.90 percent of women in senior management.

Australia placed second with 41.94 percent of women in senior management, followed by Nigeria with 38.47 percent and Botswana in fourth spot with 38.25 percent.

While the Philippines saw its overall ranking dip, it was number one in Asia.

P&A Grant Thornton chairperson and chief executive officer (CEO) Marivic Españo said Filipino women still play significant roles in organizations.

The top three roles of Filipino women in business are as human resources director (75 percent), chief finance officer (66 percent) and chief operating officer (53 percent).

Filipino businesses are also taking steps to improve or preserve gender balance in senior positions by making sure there is equal access to development work opportunities (70 percent), providing mentoring and coaching (66 percent) and allowing flexible working hours (56 percent).

While companies are implementing such measures, there is a need for women leaders to take action as female executives said there are still barriers from acquiring skills or to be successful in their roles due to lack of access to developmental work opportunities (55 percent), finding time alongside core job responsibilities (51 percent) and caring responsibilities outside work and lack of access to networking opportunities (both at 47 percent).

Globally, the percentage of businesses with at least one woman holding a senior management post went up by 12 percent to reach 87 percent this year from last year.

Overall, women now account for 29 percent of senior leadership positions globally, higher by five percent from last year.

Españo said more deliberate action is necessary to continue to see the rise in women taking senior positions in companies.

“Policies that address equal opportunity in careers, bias in recruitment and flexible working conditions cannot just be a nice thing 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,” she said.

Españo added that diversity in senior management would help improve the performance of businesses.

“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 said.

For her part, Grant Thornton International global leader Francesca Lagerberg said the figures are 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,” Lagerberg added.

Despite increasing number of women occupying senior positions in companies, there are only 15 percent of businesses globally with a woman holding the top post either as CEO or managing director.

“Hopefully, the sharp increase in the representation of women in senior leadership we’re seeing globally this year is not purely a knee-jerk reaction to the current social climate and that we’ll see similar progress in the coming years,” Lagerberg said.

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