PH tops 35 countries in Women in Business 2018

By Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat

The Philippines ranked first among 35 countries where 46.58 percent of Filipino women in business hold senior management roles or 22.44 percent more than the global average, according to Grant Thornton International Ltd.’s Women in Business report.

The annual survey of women in senior management roles by Grant Thornton, which coincided with the International Women's Day 2018, indicated that the country’s high ranking could be attributed to policies and practices such as equal pay for men and women performing in the same roles (80% of Filipino respondents), non-discriminatory policies for requirement (76%), paid parental leave (70%), and flexible hours (66%).

(Grant Thornton International / MANILA BULLETIN) (Grant Thornton International / MANILA BULLETIN)

These practices have been introduced by Filipino businesses in order to attract and keep employees, enhance company performance, comply with government legislation, live up to organizational values, and meet the expectations of wider society.

Marivic Españo, P&A Grant Thornton Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer, comments on the importance of diversity in business leadership: “Diversity in every sense is good for businesses. It encourages different ways of thinking and opens up new opportunities for growth. This is particularly relevant in a rapidly changing global business environment, as a wide range of perspectives will help businesses to better analyze and navigate new landscapes.”

While the Philippine is highly regarded for its gender diversity in senior leadership teams, Españo said there is still much more that can be done to address diversity in business leadership:

“Make diversity and inclusion a core value in your business: Organizational values drive behavior, so it is important that the whole business is signed up to diversity and inclusion. Business leaders should set clear goals by which the business will measure progress. The key for creating real change is that business policies and practices are rooted in a genuine conviction of the benefit of diversity,” she said.

Creating an inclusive business environment that supports gender diversity in leadership will not be easy, so it’s important that business leaders are in it for the long term, and speak up about what is driving change in their own companies to encourage other businesses to learn from their experience.

“Women and men are equally capable of good leadership; the critical point is that diverse leadership teams outperform their socially homogenous rivals,” added Españo.

The report also showed that businesses globally have taken one step forward but one step back on women in leadership. Significantly more businesses (75% in 2018 vs. 66% in 2017) now have at least one woman on the senior management team, but the proportion of the team that is female has slipped from 25% to 24%, according to the Grant Thornton report.

Francesca Lagerberg, global leader for network capabilities and sponsor of women in leadership at Grant Thornton International Ltd, commented.

“While it’s hugely positive that women are in senior roles at more businesses, it’s disappointing that they are being spread so thinly. This suggests businesses are concentrating on box-ticking at the expense of meaningful progress and means they will not gain from the benefits of true gender diversity. We need to move beyond policy and focus on the vital role leadership and culture can play in creating real progress in gender balance. There is compelling evidence of the link between gender diversity in leadership and commercial success. The current volatility in the global economy and ongoing technological innovation and disruption makes the issue more important than ever.”

The data show gender equality policies are abundant and widespread, with 81% of businesses adopting equal pay for men and women performing the same roles, and 71% implementing non-discrimination policies for recruitment. Measures that support working parents are also popular among businesses, including paid parental leave (59%), flexible hours (57%) and part-time working (54%).

However, there is no clear correlation between which, and how many, policies businesses have in place and the gender diversity of their senior management teams. No single policy seems to drive gender diversity, and the regions in which businesses have most policies in place – Africa, the EU and North America – demonstrate very different levels of gender diversity in business leadership.

Companies said they are motivated to introduce gender equality policies primarily to attract and keep employees (65%) and to live up to organisational values (65%). Recruitment and retention are strategic priorities for businesses, and gender equality in leadership has become a core element of company branding. However, businesses say the barriers to introducing policies include the complexity of translating good intentions into practice (22%) and stereotypes about gender roles (21%).

The report was issued to coincide with International Women’s Day 2018, which calls on all to #PressforProgress, the research reveals that introducing policies alone is not enough to drive real progress. A wider culture of inclusion championed from the top is needed to create change.