In 2022, Grant Thornton’s Women in Business research has once again tracked the position of women in senior management across the world, and the progress towards gender parity in leadership.

Our 2021 Women in Business report identified a window of opportunity created by post-pandemic working practices that were enabling more women to move into senior roles. In 2022, as economies slowly recover and the worst impacts of the pandemic recede, that trend looks set to continue.

In this year’s data, we see mid-market businesses across the world taking decisive action to mould more flexible working practices around the needs of their people. They say that they are prioritising employee engagement and modelling open, inclusive working environments. By so doing, organisations are opening the door to bring female talent into senior positions in greater numbers than ever before.


Senior positions held

More female leaders in Singapore mid-market businesses, but few CEOs and Managing Directors

Based on a three-year moving average, the proportion of Singapore mid-market businesses with at least one woman in senior management has gone up to 92 per cent, up from 90 per cent. The most common leadership roles that women hold are Human Resources Director and Chief Finance Officer (CFO), coming in at 49 per cent and 43 per cent respectively.

However, the proportion of mid-market businesses in Singapore with female Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) and Managing Directors (MDs) remains at a mere 11 per cent.

This figure shows Singapore clearly lagging in contrast to the rest of the world. Globally, 24 per cent of mid-market businesses have female CEOs or MDs, and Southeast Asia stands almost three times higher at 32 per cent. 

Sze Min Yu, Assurance Partner at Grant Thornton Singapore says: “While the proportion of CEOs remains low, I believe that the overall increase in the number of women in senior management indicates that Singapore is heading in the right direction. As more women move into senior management, there is a wider pool of female candidates with the right qualifications to assume the roles of CEO or MD.”

Fostering the right environment

Keeping employees engaged to build an inclusive culture

Nearly 52% of mid-market leaders in Singapore expecting a skill shortage to be a major constraint to their businesses in the year ahead and one in three have indicated that keeping employees engaged was one of their main challenges during the pandemic.

Supporting this, Grant Thornton’s research shows that in response, almost all Singapore respondents (98%) are taking action to foster staff engagement and create an inclusive culture.


David_circle.pngDavid Sandison, Practice Leader at Grant Thornton Singapore said, “What we need to do is to acknowledge that each individual has their own hurdles to overcome. While we have come a long way in the gender equality journey, society still harbours expectations of women to play certain roles or to have certain characteristics which may be counter to career advancement.

“To support people, especially women, leaders need to understand what their people need and create a virtuous circle – leaders foster an open culture where people feel comfortable raising questions and bringing up their needs, leaders listen and take action, and people are better able to thrive in the environment.”