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KUALA LUMPUR: Eighty per cent of businesses in Malaysia now have at least one woman on their senior management team compared with the global average of 75 per cent, according to Grant Thornton International Ltd’s annual Women in Business Report.

The percentage of women in senior management, meanwhile, has increased to 28 per cent this year from 24 per cent in 2017 – the highest since 2011.

On a global level, more businesses have at least one woman on their senior management team, but the percentage of women in senior management has slipped.

In a statement, the audit, tax and advisory firm said, 75 per cent of businesses this year had at least one woman on the senior management team against 66 per cent in 2017.

However, women only make up 24 per cent of senior management compared with 25 per cent previously.

“While it is hugely positive that women are in senior roles at more businesses, it is disappointing thatthey are being spread so thinly.

“This suggests businesses are concentrating on box-ticking at the expense of meaningful progress and means they will not gain from the benefits of true gender diversity,” said Grant Thornton Malaysia’s Technical & Corporate Affairs Director, Silvia Tan.

She said there was a need to move beyond policy and focus on the vital role leadership and culture in creating progress in gender balance.

Grant Thornton’s data showed that gender equality policies were widespread in Malaysia with 82 per cent of businesses adopting equal pay for men and women performing the same roles and 66 per cent implementing non-discrimination policies for recruitment.

Measures that supported working parents were also popular among businesses, including paid parental leave (42 per cent) and flexible hours (24 per cent).

The report also said companies in Malaysia were motivated to introduce gender equality policies mainly to attract and keep employees (73 per cent), enhance company performance (73 per cent), live up to organisational values (73 per cent), meet the expectations of wider society (58 per cent) and follow the vision of senior leadership (51 per cent).

Globally, the progress on the number of businesses with women in senior management has mainly been driven by emerging economies such as Africa (where 89 per cent of businesses have at least one woman in senior management) and Eastern Europe (87 per cent).

The report said emerging economies also continued to see the highest proportion of women in senior roles, including ASEAN (39 per cent), Latin America (30 per cent) and Africa (30 per cent).

The Women in Business report was published to coincide with International Women’s Day 2018.

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