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The report titled “Women in business: New perspectives on risk and reward”, which was based on the tax services firm’s annual survey of 5,500 businesses in 36 economies, revealed that Malaysia was at the bottom of the rung compared to four neighbouring countries.
According to the survey, only 24 per cent of senior business roles are held by women in 2017 in Malaysia, down from 26 per cent last year. More than a third of businesses in the country, or 34 per cent, have no women in senior management, up from 31 per cent last year.
“This is the second consecutive year of having the least senior business roles held by women in Asean,” said Grant Thornton Malaysia country managing partner Datuk NK Jasani.
In the Asean region, Indonesia has the highest proportion of senior business roles held by women (46 per cent), followed by Philippines (40 per cent), Thailand (31 per cent) and Singapore (30 per cent).
“The percentage of businesses with no women in senior management has hit a new high. The numbers have been increasing since 2012 from 21 per cent and it is in its highest in 2017 at 34 per cent,” said Jasani, referring to Malaysia.
“This year businesses across Asean have increased the proportion of senior roles held by women. However, we are still only halfway there, and with the percentage of businesses with no women in senior management also rising it feels as if we’re taking one step forward and one step back. This is a real concern for business growth as it suggests we aren’t maximising the potential out there,” Jasani added.
Regionally, the proportion of senior business roles held by women in Asean rose from 34 per cent in 2016 to 36 per cent in 2017.
Globally, a quarter of senior roles are held by women, which is a slight increase from last year’s 24 per cent, and the highest level since 2004 when the survey began.
However, the proportion of businesses with no women in senior management has also risen. Thirty-four per cent of businesses around the world have no women in senior management, slightly higher than 33 per cent last year.
The research revealed that countries with the highest proportion of senior roles held by women were Russia (47 per cent), Indonesia (46 per cent), Estonia (40 per cent), Poland (40 per cent) and the Philippines (40 per cent).
The countries with the lowest proportion of senior roles held by women were Japan (7 per cent), Argentina (15 per cent), India (17 per cent), Germany (18 per cent), Brazil (19 per cent) and the United Kingdom (19 per cent).
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