Only 9% of Singapore firms have a female CEO

Study shows that more women are getting a seat at the table — but a long way off from the head

Only 9% of Singapore firms have a female CEO

Only 9% of Singapore businesses have a female CEO, according to a recent study. This lags behind the 21% of female CEOs found in ASEAN companies.

However, it was found that almost nine in ten businesses (87%) surveyed have at least one woman on the senior management team — a slight increase of 9% from the past year.

Most of whom are on the HR leadership team: About four in ten businesses polled by Grant Thornton have a female HR director. While research shows that more women are getting a seat at the senior leadership table, gender parity in top roles is still a long way off.

In Singapore, 28% of all respondents — and importantly, the majority of female respondents (52%) — say that their businesses are not taking any actions to improve gender balance.

Nationwide, women now make up 33% of senior management teams in Singapore — the highest it has ever been. This proportion is ahead of ASEAN’s 28% and the global average of 29%.

This is aligned with the global trend, where the proportion of women in senior management has risen 10% over the last 15 years globally. Most of the strides were made in 2018 alone.

“If we want to continue seeing female representation trend upwards in senior positions, more deliberate action needs to be taken and leaders will play a critical role,” said Lorraine Parkin, partner and head of tax services at Grant Thornton Singapore.

“Policies that address equal opportunity in career development, bias in recruitment and flexible working can’t just be a ‘nice to have’ — they must be adhered to, enforced and regularly revisited to assess their effectiveness.

“When that is combined with real commitment from senior leadership, you begin to create a truly inclusive culture.”


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