Proportion of women in senior management falls to 2004 levels

Percentage of women in senior managerial positions 2011
Percentage of women in senior managerial positions 2011

Research from the 2011 Grant Thornton International Business Report (IBR) reveals that women currently hold 20% of senior management positions globally, down from 24% in 2009, and up just 1% from 2004. In its quarterly survey of privately held businesses (PHBs) Grant Thornton also found that the percentage of PHBs that have no women in their senior management has risen to 38% compared to 35% in 2009.

Across the world, Thailand boasts the greatest percentage of women in senior management (45%), followed by Georgia (40%), Russia (36%), Hong Kong and the Philippines (both 35%). The countries with the lowest percentages are India, the United Arab Emirates and Japan where fewer than 10% of senior management positions are held by women.

April Mackenzie, Global head of public policy and external affairs commented “It is disappointing to see that the global proportion of women in senior management has shown no sign of growth, reverting instead to 2004 levels. Female executives appear to be bearing the brunt of the global economic downturn, however, many businesses are now feeling the pressure to review their policies, especially in light of recent government and media inquiries into the male dominance of boardrooms. Some businesses will need to examine their levels of support offered to women to fall in line with quotas on female board representation, a solution currently in discussion in some countries. Others, especially in some emerging markets, are already ahead of the competition.”

The data revealed that G7 countries lag behind the global average with only 16% of women holding senior roles whilst, regionally, Asia Pacific (excl. Japan) scores highest with 27%. Women have become most successful in increasing their share of senior management roles in Thailand, Hong Kong, Greece, Belgium and Botswana, where the percentage of women in these roles has risen by at least 7% since 2009.

Roles for women
Of the companies that employ women in senior managerial positions globally,  22% employ them in financial positions (eg Chief Financial Officer/Finance Director). This is followed by Human Resource Director (20%), Chief Marketing Officer and Sales Director (both 9%).

Globally just 8% of  companies with women in senior managerial positions have a female Chief Executive Officer (CEO). However the story is different in Asian economies, Thailand leads the way with 30% of companies employing female CEOs, followed by mainland China (19%), Taiwan (18%) and Vietnam (16%).

For further information please contact:
Christine Hobart
International communications manager
T +44 207 391 9548

Notes to editors
The Grant Thornton International Business Report (IBR) provides insight into the views and expectations of over 11,000 businesses per year across 39 economies. This unique survey draws upon 19 years of trend data for most European participants and nine years for many non-European economies.

Data collection
The research is carried out primarily by telephone interview lasting approximately 15 minutes with the exception of Japan (postal), Philippines and Armenia (face to face), mainland China and India (mixture of face-to-face and telephone) where cultural differences dictate a tailored approach. Telephone interviews enable Grant Thornton International to conduct the exact number of recommended interviews and to be certain that the most appropriate individuals are interviewed in an organisation which meets the profile criteria.

Data collection is managed by Grant Thornton International's core research partner - Experian Business Strategies. Questionnaires are translated into local languages with each participating country having the option to ask a small number of country specific questions in addition to the core questionnaire. The women in business data will consists of responses gathered in Q4 2010 and Q1 2011, resulting an a global sample of over 9,000 respondents.

IBR is a survey of medium to large privately held businesses, researching the opinions of over 11,000 businesses annually. The target respondents are chief executive officers, managing directors, chairmen or other senior executives (title dependent on what is most appropriate for the individual country) from 39 economies primarily across five industries: manufacturing (25 per cent), services (25 per cent), retail (15 per cent and construction (ten per cent) with the remaining 25 per cent spread across all industries.

Locally, the sample tends to cover the industries mentioned previously, with some countries being able to have local valid data for specific sectors or regions when the sample size is large enough.