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APAC lights the way for women in executive roles

By Sara Barker
Wed 16 Oct 2019
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Organisations in Asia Pacific and the United States have more women in management than organisations in Europe – and globally, female representation on boards has doubled in the space of just 10 years.

That’s according to a recent Credit Suisse Gender 3000 in 2019 report, which analysed the gender mix of more than 3000 companies and 30,000 executive positions across 56 countries.

Globally, 20.6% of boards comprise women in 2019, compared to just 15.3% in 2016.

While North America experienced the most significant improvements, Asia Pacific grew modestly – depending on country analysed. Overall, the proportion of women in management in Asia Pacific sits at 19%. 

While there is low female representation on boards in Japan, it has still improved from less than 1% at the start of the decade.

The report says that the five countries that have seen the biggest proportional increase are Malaysia, France, Australia, Germany and Austria, all of which have between 9.4% and 12.8% growth.

While there has been a rise in the number of women in management, barely 5% of organisations have female CEOs, and less than 15% have female CFOs.

The report notes, “Female roles are still clustered away from operational decision making. A third of all ‘shared services’ functions are held by women. 80% of heads of IT positions are male.”

Asia Pacific sports the highest number of CEOs (5.6%) and CFOs (18.9%) compared to other regions.

“It is heartening to see progress being made in most parts of the world to ensure female progression and promotion in the senior positions of the workplace,” comments Credit Suisse global head of diversity and inclusion, Patsy Doerr.

“That being said, we are still a long way off achieving workplace parity. This is why we are keen to spotlight the issues that persist globally and be part of the conversations that can impact material change in the direction of better gender representation and better corporate performance.”

The report suggests that greater diversity could lead to a better gender balance in executive roles.  There is also a correlation between diversity and share price outperformance, as well as profitability.

Family-owned companies often outperformed those that aren’t family-owned in terms of their financial and share price returns. Additionally, those that perform best often have ‘substantial female representation at the executive level’.

The report suggests that the gender pay gap must be addressed to enhance mobility and flexibility.

“The Gender 3000 companies interestingly reflect the lower the diversity, the higher the pay gap.”

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