Thailand No.2 by women serving as senior execs
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Thailand No.2 by women serving as senior execs

Thailand ranks second globally for women represented in senior management, with the highest percentage of female chief financial officers and the third-highest rate of female chief executives, according to a recent report.

Seven of the top 10 markets with the highest percentage of women in management are in Asia-Pacific, with the Philippines (34%), Thailand (28%) and Australia/New Zealand (25%) firmly in the top three positions, the Credit Suisse Research Institute (CSRI) said in its third CS Gender 3000 report.

Thailand's senior management diversity score improved to 28.9% in 2019 from 25.4% in 2016, the CSRI said, adding that Southeast Asia's second-largest economy also has the highest percentage of female CFOs (42%) and the third-highest percentage of female CEOs (9%).

But Thailand's percentage of women sitting on boards in 2019 is 10.7%, ranking 27th globally, though female representation on boards globally has doubled in a decade.

The study analysed the gender mix of executive teams at over 3,000 companies across 56 countries, comprising 30,000 executive positions. This included 1,280 companies from Asia-Pacific.

Globally, the proportion of women in management has risen to 17.6% in 2019. Regionally, the US (21%) and Asia-Pacific (19%) reflect greater management diversity than witnessed in Europe (17%).

At 15%, Singapore and Italy rank the highest in terms of female CEO representation globally, immediately followed by Thailand (9%) and the Philippines (8%).

Asia-Pacific countries are also leading globally in terms of female CFO representation, with Thailand (42%), Malaysia (29%) and the Philippines (28%) completing the top three positions globally. Furthermore, in countries like Singapore and China, close to or more than a quarter of all CFOs are female.

The spillover from this trend into the most senior executive positions has been limited. Barely 5% of the CS Gender 3000 companies have female CEOs, and fewer than 15% have female CFOs.

Female roles are still clustered away from operational decision-making. A third of all "shared services" functions are held by women, while 80% of heads of IT are male.

The greater seniority of women in management in the highlighted Asian countries is likely due to more equitable opportunities where education is concerned, amid the rapid growth and emergence of new industries and the demographic profile of these economies.

While not asserting cause and effect, the CSRI's previous reports found strong correlations between boardroom diversity and share price outperformance. Since December 2014, family-owned companies with at least one female executive have outperformed male-only family-owned firms in Asia ex Japan by 160 basis points annually.

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