Manila (Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN) - It¿s more fun in the Philippines for women climbing the corporate ladder than in most other places on the planet.
The ratio of Filipinas taking on leadership positions in business increased to 39 per cent this year from 35 per cent in 2011, placing the Philippines on the top league of countries with the highest percentage of women in the boardroom, according to the GrantThornton¿s International Business Report.
A study released by Grant Thornton¿s local member-firm Punongbayan & Araullo (P&A) on Friday showed that the Philippines was second to Russia, along with Thailand and Botswana, on the list of countries with a growing number of women joining the ¿C-suite¿.
"C-suite¿ refers to that class of senior management executives who have the letter ¿C¿ in their official titles, such as chief executive officer, chief operating officer, chief finance officer, chief investment officer and chief information officer.
But the global picture does not look very rosy as the same study showed that the proportion of women holding senior management posts has been on a steady decline in all major regions of the world except Europe since 2009.
Looking at results from 2011 and 2012 in the Southeast Asian region in particular, while all the countries remained above the global average, only the Philippines and Vietnam recorded an uptick in numbers from the past year.
"When we started tracking women in leadership posts in emerging markets such as BRIC (referring to the fast-growing emerging market bloc Brazil-Russia-India-China) and the ones in Southeast Asia, it was very encouraging to see that these dynamic economies were leading the pack in terms of welcoming women in the boardroom,¿ said Marivic Espa?o, P&A managing partner and CEO.
"So it is a point of concern to see the proportion of women business leaders shrinking in these countries. Hopefully this doesn¿t signal a further drop-off in the coming years to the point where women are underrepresented globally,¿ she said.
As in previous years, the survey looked into the roles women play in senior management. As in most Philippine households, women leaders end up with responsibilities involving finance. This year, 64 per cent of Filipinas in senior management were either chief finance officers or holding senior finance positions, up from last year¿s 54 per cent, the study showed.
"On one hand, it¿s good to note that the Philippines has steadily scored well in this area. It shows that top posts in the country are accessible to men and women equally,¿ said Espa?o. ¿But again the falling numbers globally should alert business leaders and get them to start asking why women aren¿t as present at the top of the ladder and what can be done about it.¿
For the first time, the IBR asked respondents if they offered flexible work arrangements. Sixty-six per cent of the local businesses polled answered yes, above the global average of 52 per cent and the Southeast Asian average of 53 per cent.
"This is one way of encouraging women to aim for the top, especially those who have to balance their career with motherhood,¿ said Espa?o.
"Hopefully, moving forward, we can find more ways to open up those C-suite posts to women, and continue to be a good example of gender equality here in the Asean [Association of Southeast Asian Nations] region.¿
The Grant Thornton International Business Report provides insights into the views and expectations of 12,000 businesses per year across 40 economies. This survey draws upon 20 years of trend data for most European participants and nine years for many non-European economies.
The data for this release were drawn from interviews with 6,000 businesses across the globe conducted between November 2011 and February 2012.
The target respondents were chief executive officers, managing directors, chairpersons or other senior executives (title dependent on what is most appropriate for the individual country) from 40 economies primarily across five sectors: manufacturing (25 per cent), services (25 per cent), retail (15 per cent) and construction (10 per cent) with the remaining 25 per cent spread across all sectors.
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