Women in management: Yet another study finds APAC a laggard

  • Only 4% of top companies in APAC have women senior leaders: Weber study
  • Companies with strong reputations have 2x as many women in senior management
Women in management: Yet another study finds APAC a laggard

ASIA Pacific continues to lag when it comes to women in the workplace, especially in senior management roles, a new study has found, much in line with the findings of other studies.
Not that women are faring much better in other regions: According to the Gender Forward Pioneer (GFP) Index recently released by Weber Shandwick, only 10.9% of the senior executives of the world’s 500 largest companies, by revenue, are women. In Asia Pacific, the number is a measly 4%.
Of those global companies, not one has an equal representation of men and women on their senior management teams, and nearly four in 10 companies (37.6%) have an all-male senior leadership team.
The research also found that companies recognised with ‘most admired’ reputation status by their industry peers have a higher proportion of female leaders, albeit well below gender parity, Weber Shandwick said in a statement.
“We clearly see a reputational benefit going to organisations with more women in senior executive positions,” said Weber Shandwick Singapore managing director Vanessa Ho.
“But despite a strong business case for improving gender balance, our GFP Index illustrates the current, stark reality where women are under-represented in the most senior corporate ranks.
“It’s time for companies to proactively and positively encourage female leaders within their organisations, and experience the benefits a more balanced senior team brings,” she added.
The GFP Index measures the percentage of women in senior management positions at Fortune Global 500 companies.
Weber Shandwick said it audited these companies, identifying their top executives and their genders. In total, this amounted to an evaluation of more than 8,600 executives representing 36 countries.
The Index is a supplement to Gender Equality in the Executive Ranks: A Paradox – The Journey to 2030, a global study sponsored by Weber Shandwick and KRC Research and conducted by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) in 2015.
That survey of senior executives across 55 countries in North America, EMEA (Europe/ Middle East/ Africa), Asia Pacific and Latin America identified weak corporate commitment to achieving gender equality at the top while senior women are simultaneously experiencing ‘gender pipeline fatigue.’
Gender-forward companies
Women in management: Yet another study finds APAC a laggardAlthough no companies worldwide are at gender parity in their leadership ranks, some industries perform better than others, as do companies in particular markets (click infographic to view in full).

  • The top industry for women in senior management is General Merchandisers, with an index of 33% (vs. the cross-industry average of 10.9%).
  • Five industries have no women on their senior management teams: Diversified Wholesalers, Food and Grocery Wholesalers, Shipping, Temporary Help and Textiles.
  • North America has the highest proportion of women in senior management. Nearly two in 10 (19%) of senior executives in North America are women.
  • Sweden is the individual market with the highest proportion of women in senior management (27%), followed closely by Turkey (26%).
  • In total, only 13 of the Global Fortune 500 companies have a female CEO (chief executive officer).

Not just reputation, but bottom-line too
Analysis of the reputational standing among the world’s leading revenue-producing companies worldwide shows a correlation between reputation and the proportion of women in senior level positions, Weber Shandwick argued.
Using the Fortune World’s Most Admired rankings as a guide, the company determined that Most Admired Companies (those with the best reputations in their respective industries) have twice the percentage of women in senior management as Contender Companies, or those with weaker reputations in their industries (17% vs 8%, respectively).
Additionally, according to executives in the Gender Equality in the Executive Ranks: A Paradox – The Journey to 2030 study who actively support gender parity initiatives at their companies, there are two factors that directly point to women’s contributions to the bottom-line success of organisations.
‘Diverse perspectives lead to better financial performance’ was cited by 38%, and ‘women make good leaders’ were identified by 35%.
“Weber Shandwick strongly believes that gender equality is rapidly becoming a new driver of company reputation,” said Weber Shandwick chief reputation strategist Leslie Gaines-Ross.
“Let’s get real – the media continues to be highly influential and journalists pay rapt attention to this hot-button gender topic, so corporate leaders are well advised to respect the reputational return on investment and competitive advantage that comes with gender balance at the top,” she added.
In fact, four in 10 C-level executives (39%) report that their companies actively share such information to enhance their internal culture and public perception.
Click here to find out more about Weber Shandwick’s GFP 2016 Index.
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Women in the workplace: Asia is just the worst
Women in tech ... or the lack thereof
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