Thailand leads the region in women top executives


Women in Thailand are proving to be pioneers as the percentage of Thai women holding CEO and Managing Director positions is double the world average and higher than any other nation in Southeast Asia, U.S.-based consulting firm Grant Thornton said last week on International Women’s Day.

Women in Thailand hold 33 percent of all CEO and Managing Director jobs in the private sector, according to Grant Thornton. The global average, meanwhile, is just 15 percent, and the average percentage in the ten nations of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations is 21 percent.

Grant Thornton surveyed nearly 5,000 CEOs, managing directors, chairs and other senior leaders worldwide to arrive at its figures. The data in this year’s survey offers a snapshot of the state of progress for women in the workforce, the company said. The survey also examined actions taken by businesses to try and achieve a more even gender balance among their leadership teams.

In Thailand, the most common actions companies took to create more gender equality were creating an inclusive culture (37 percent), enabling flexible working hours (28 percent), and reviewing recruitment approaches (22 percent). Other actions named included setting gender quotas, rewarding progress towards targets, and mentoring. However, 13 percent said they took no action to improve the gender balance within their organizations.

Advocates of gender equality say that having more women in senior positions is good for a business’s bottom line and competitiveness, and Grant Thornton agrees.

“There is compelling evidence of the relationship between diversity of thought and innovation, leading to enhanced business performance,’’ said Melea Cruz, a partner at Grant Thornton in Thailand. “Moreover, women and men have different backgrounds and experiences, which lead to different perspectives on everything from strategy to execution.”

While she praised the Thai private sector’s performance on gender equality in management, while also saying companies should still strive for an equal split to reflect the makeup of society, she said Thailand’s political sector is lagging behind.

“There are currently no female cabinet ministers at all, and women make up just 5 percent of parliament. It will be interesting to see whether the recent cultural shift on this issue has an effect on the coming elections,” she added.

Thailand has had one woman prime minister, and at least one candidate for prime minister in the upcoming election is a woman.