20 years of women in business insights

2024 marks the 20th year of Grant Thornton’s work to monitor and measure the proportion of women occupying senior management roles in mid-market companies around the world.

The Women in Business project has explored what helps, and what hinders, women in the workplace through a period that’s offered plenty of challenge. Global mid-market companies have navigated the financial crisis of 2007-08, worked through the pandemic and currently contend with the impact of geopolitical tension and conflict.

The global economy continues to shift and mid-market organisations are under more pressure than ever to adapt. Faced with such changes, it's crucial that we maintain focus: the challenge of getting women into senior management is as urgent as it has ever been. Many mid-market businesses have responded to this imperative, and there have been improvements. We must ensure this momentum continues and accelerates.  

Progress on parity is still too slow

In this year's report, the overall proportion of women in senior leadership in Singapore's mid-market businesses has inched up slowly to 42%. Across ASEAN, we observed a marginal dip in the proportion of women in senior management to 38% in 2024. 

When Grant Thornton first began its research in 2004, just 19.4% of senior management roles globally were held by women in the mid-market. Today, that figure stands at 33.5%. Although in the proportions in Singapore and ASEAN are reaching a more encouraging figure, we are starting to see some tapering off.


While this is progress, and there has been some acceleration since the pandemic, it is disappointingly slow. At this current rate of change, the mid-market will not reach parity on women in senior management roles until 2053. 

This sounds a warning bell to us all that it’s not enough just to get women into senior management roles – determined action is also needed to keep them there. We must focus, or we might start to go backwards.

Our Pathways to Parity

As a company, Grant Thornton strongly believes in the importance of increasing diversity in the workplace, at a senior level and beyond, as a proven performance driver. Over the years, we have been actively monitoring the changes regarding diversity within mid-market businesses.

While our research allows us to measure progress, it also enables us to understand what needs to change to accelerate it – to identify the business configurations that can drive change and provide actionable steps businesses can take. In this year’s report, we have set out three clear pathways to parity.

Tangible steps we can take

  • Tangible steps we can take

    Who leads Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) efforts within an organisation is key:  

    A member of the C-suite needs to take responsibility, but they must work alongside another female senior leader. This pairing has a clear positive impact on the percentage of senior management roles held by women.

  • Tangible steps we can take

    Put in place clear strategies: 

    Businesses must have specific DE&I goals, and they must regularly measure success.

  • Tangible steps we can take

    Adopt flexible working practices:

    Driven by the pandemic, businesses now adopt a variety of working styles. Our research reveals a move back towards the office, yet businesses that offer greater flexibility reflects a higher percentage of senior management roles held by women.

Benefits for the Company

Bringing the commercial aspect to the conversation, we know that diversity in a company has often been linked to performance. With a variety of voices and viewpoints at senior levels believed to lead to better decisions making and, therefore, higher performance.  

Our research points at a higher profit expectation for businesses with higher proportion of women in senior management. 

Grant Thornton
Pathways to Parity

Download the Women in Business 2024 report

  • The Global Picture
  • The Regional Picture
  • Three pathways to parity