, Singapore

Women now take up one-third of Singapore senior leadership teams: study

But gender parity remains an issue as only 9% of firms have a female CEO.

In Singapore, women now make up 33% of their companies’ senior management team, the highest it has ever been in Grant Thornton International’s study, Women in Business. This proportion beats the averages in the ASEAN (28%) and around the world (29%).

“This is aligned with the upward global trend, where the proportion of women in senior management has risen 10% over the last 15 years globally, with half of the increase achieved over the last year alone,” Grant Thornton International said.

Moreover, 87% of businesses polled in Singapore have at least one woman on the senior management team, an increase of 9% over the past year. This is on par with the global average of 87% (with an increase of 12% over 2018) but below ASEAN’s 94%.

Whilst the number of women in senior leadership is increasing, gender parity at the head of the table is still a significant way off, the study revealed. When it comes to the role of CEO or managing director, only 15% of businesses globally have a woman leading the business. In Singapore, only 9% of businesses polled have a female CEO, lagging behind ASEAN’s 21% by a significant proportion.

Human resources represent the largest proportion of women in senior management roles in Singapore as 41% of businesses polled in Singapore have a female Human Resources Director.

In Singapore, 28% of all respondents – and 52% majority of female respondents – said that their businesses are not taking any actions to improve gender balance. This is both higher than the ASEAN average of 12% and the global average of 25%.

Lorraine Parkin, partner and head of tax services at Grant Thornton Singapore, commented, “The Singapore data has shown that finding the time alongside core job responsibilities and lack of access to developmental work opportunities are two key barriers that prevent women from acquiring the skills and attributes to be successful in their leadership roles. Policies that address equal opportunity in career development, bias in recruitment and flexible working can’t just be a nice to have – 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.” 

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