Grant Thornton’s International Business Report (IBR) has been casting a light on the issue of gender diversity in senior management at mid-market businesses for 19 years, exposing barriers and identifying facilitators of change.

Our research suggests that mid-market businesses must push for parity, and quickly. Intentional action from businesses is needed to accelerate progress. 

A pandemic-prompted change in working practices has brought about progress for women in senior leadership, according to Grant Thornton’s 2023 International Business Report (IBR) research into women in Singapore mid-market businesses.

Progress on the overall proportion of women in senior leadership rises decisively in Singapore and in Southeast Asia, climbing ahead of other markets globally. In Singapore, the 2023 report found that the proportion of women in senior management spiked to 39%, based on a three-year moving average, a simple average of the current year and the last two years results.

In Southeast Asia, mid-market businesses also reflected the same proportion of women in senior leadership in the three-year moving average at 39 per cent, ahead of the global 32 per cent.

Why the mid-market should take the lead

At Grant Thornton, we firmly believe that increasing diversity, at a senior level and beyond, is the responsible thing to do and the right thing to do commercially, being a proven driver of performance.

To take the next step, and push for parity we must learn from our experiences, avoid the pitfalls which could derail progress and ensure there is long term commitment to the new ways of working. Our 2023 Women in Business report provides key insights into why and how mid-market businesses can do this.

To push for parity, businesses must be intentional and decisive with their actions in order to accelerate progress. 

Grant Thornton has five recommendations arising from the IBR research.

How the mid-market can push for parity

  • How the mid-market can push for parity

    Offer flexibility: Businesses should adopt a hybrid or flexible approach, where possible, to create an environment that generates greater diversity among senior leadership teams. Pairing this with a culture which is supportive and understanding is vital 

  • How the mid-market can push for parity

    Have greater intent: Accelerate and closely monitor initiatives designed to encourage greater diversity in senior leadership, including women only programmes

  • How the mid-market can push for parity

    Be transparent and nurturing: Employee wellbeing and mentoring programmes which support women into senior leadership are crucial, but this needs to be combined with greater transparency on pathways into those roles  

  • How the mid-market can push for parity

    Act knowingly: Businesses now calling for a ‘return to the workplace’ must consider the effect that this will have on diversity, understanding that this may have unintended consequences

  • How the mid-market can push for parity

    Monitor and refine: Look to guard against any negative impacts of working from home, understanding the disadvantages it can bring and addressing them 

Grant Thornton
The push for parity

Download the Women in Business 2023 report

  • The trends across the mid-market
  • Working models and its impact on women in senior management
  • What businesses can do now

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