Delhi: International women’s day holds major significance for India Inc regarding decision-making power. According to Grant Thornton’s International Business Report on ‘Women in Business 2023 - The push for parity’, 32% of senior management positions are now held by women, globally, in mid-market businesses, and the same stands at 36% in India. Alarmingly, 9% of such businesses still have no women in senior leadership roles globally.
Commenting on the report findings, Pallavi Bakhru, Partner, Grant Thornton Bharat said, "As we continue to strive for gender parity in the workplace, it is encouraging to see progress in the representation of women in senior leadership positions. To push for better parity, businesses must adopt a hybrid or flexible approach, create a supportive and understanding culture, and focus on employee well-being and mentoring programmes that support women. Working towards improving diversity, especially at senior levels, is not only the responsible thing to do but also the right thing to do commercially. It is a proven driver of performance. "
Another fascinating insight comes from analysing regional data. All regions (Africa, APAC, ASEAN, Latin America, North America, EU) surpassed the 30% figure for women in senior management for the first time. The ASEAN region experienced the most significant percentage points rise among the regions, increasing from 37% to reach 40% mark. APAC’s increase to 32%, from 30% in 2022, places it ahead of North America for the first time since 2018 and North America was the only region to experience a dip, from 33% to 31%. With 36% of women in leadership roles, India is ahead of the current global (32%), BRIC (34%) and G7 (30%) averages.
Perhaps the most significant boost to achieving gender parity could come from a continued commitment from businesses to provide flexible working. This year’s research shows that businesses which offer hybrid, flexible or home working outperform when it comes to women in senior management. Globally, 36% of mid-market businesses are now working purely office-based, and 53% have a hybrid approach. In India, 62% of such businesses are adopting a hybrid model, 27% are still primarily office based, 5% of staff is permanently home-based and 5% have a fully flexible schedule and choice to choose where to work from.
Despite only a slight increase in the percentage of women in senior leadership positions, this year there are big increases in the percentage of women occupying the chief executive officer (CEO)/ managing director (MD) and chief information officer (CIO) positions. In 2019, just 15% of businesses had a female CEO / MD. Now, that number is 28%, on a global level.
With such a focus on growth and diversity, retaining the right talent and attracting new ones becomes critical. According to the survey, India Inc believes certain actions can help businesses attract and retain a strong pipeline of future leaders. The top three measures were:
1. 34.5%: Invest in the right technology to boost engagement and inclusion
2. 31.7%: Focus on implementing strong wellbeing training and/or support programmes
3. 31.3%: Implement cultural and behavioural change through training programmes
Sadly, 5% of mid-market businesses in India still don’t have any women in senior leadership roles. To accelerate progress, we need more policy/change-driven programmes, increased transparency on leadership pathways and a business culture that continues to support greater diversity in senior leadership fully.
The Grant Thornton International Business Report (IBR) is the world’s leading mid-market business survey, surveying around 10,000 business leaders in 28 countries, annually.
The findings in this report are drawn from around 5,000 interviews and surveys conducted between October and December 2022 with chief executive officers, managing directors, chairs, and other senior decision-makers from all industry sectors in mid-market businesses in 28 countries. In India, we surveyed approx. 281 mid-market businesses.