PH ranks first globally in terms of women in leadership positions


Filipino women holding senior leadership positions in mid-market businesses reached 48 percent in 2020 despite the COVID-19 pandemic that affected local and global economies, according to Grant Thornton’s annual Women in Business report.

“Ranking first globally in terms of women in senior roles in the Philippines is an important milestone for businesses in the country, but not the end goal. Those businesses that want to reap the benefits of a better gender balance must continue to take action to enable women to realize their ambitions,” said P&A Grant Thornton chairperson and chief executive Marivic Espano.

Seeing the proportion of women leaders rise to 48 percent means that the Philippines continues to do well, given that the figure continuously increased in 2019 and 2020, she said.

The findings also surpassed the important 30-percent threshold, which research showed was the minimum representation needed to change decision-making processes.

All countries surveyed except for China at 29 percent, the United Arab Emirates at 26 percent, 18 percent of South Korea and Japan’s 15 percent, surpassed the crucial 30-percent milestone.

The study, conducted in the fourth quarter of 2020, found out that there was a higher number of women across operational C-suite roles in the Philippines in 2020 compared to 2019, with the proportion of female chief executives up 16 percentage points to 38 percent and female chief operation officers up four percentage points to 27 percent.

“Becoming the number one ranking country in terms of the proportion of women in senior management certainly does represent progress—having grown from 39 percent five years ago when we first started tracking this, but these gains can easily be lost,” Españo said.

In the study, the proportion of female CFOs went down 3 percentage points to 35 percent while the proportion of women in the more traditional senior HR roles dropped by 2 percentage points to 38 percent in 2020, with the trend consistently fluctuating upwards and downwards since 2019.

Additionally, 42 percent of respondents agree that in their organizations, new working practices as a result of COVID-19 would benefit women’s career trajectories long-term, despite potentially hindering factors which may be down to the flexibility that remote working offers.

While the number of women in leadership roles has grown, questions remain over the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on women, particularly working mothers.

Data from the United Nations showed that before the pandemic, women did three times as much unpaid housework as men, and mounting evidence indicated that COVID-19 only increased this disparity and adding the extra responsibilities of childcare and home schooling while schools are closed, the study said.

“Reassuringly, 92 percent of businesses globally say they are taking action to ensure the engagement and inclusion of their employees against the negative backdrop of the pandemic and with the normalization of remote working, employers are becoming ever more flexible about how, where and when employees do their jobs,” Españo said.

Launched in 1992, the IBR provides insights into the views and expectations of around 10,000 businesses across 29 economies.

Responses for the study were generated and compiled from both online and telephone interviews. The data came from interviews conducted from October to December 2020 with chief executives, managing directors, chairperson or other senior executives from all industry sectors. In the Philippines, 100 mid-market businesses were surveyed.

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