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Women in Business 2024

Three ways businesses can increase the number of women in senior roles

Grant Thornton Vietnam is pleased to release Grant Thornton International's "Women in Business Report 2024:  Pathways to Parity", marking 20 years of surveying on women senior management in mid-market companies globally.

Current status: senior management positions held by women

At the onset of Grant Thornton International's research endeavor, the proportion of women in senior management roles within the mid-market sector globally was only 19.4%. The figure increased to 33% in 2024, which is a significant improvement. In Vietnam, the proportion of women holding leadership positions currently stands at 33%. The Southeast Asia (ASEAN) and the Asia-Pacific (APAC) regions recorded a figure of 38% and 31% respectively.

Statistics of Grant Thornton International show that progress in recent years has been slow. Compared to last year, the percentage of women holding management positions in mid-market enterprises globally grew by just 1 percentage point to 33%. Meanwhile, in Vietnam, the number of female leaders in businesses decreased by 1 percentage point compared to the previous year. This result raises important questions, necessitating stronger solutions to advance gender parity in the workplace.

Grant Thornton International's survey also provides insights into the proportion of women and men occupying management positions across various specific roles. The ratio of CFOs, CMOs, Sales directors, and HR directors at mid-market enterprises that are female is 71%, 63%, 59%, and 79%, respectively. The rates observed globally, as well as within the ASEAN and APAC regions, exhibit quite small variations from those found in Vietnam.

Three pathways to reach gender parity

The report outlines three clear pathways for companies to speed up progress towards gender parity in senior management: entrusting diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) responsibilities to both a C-suite member and a female senior leader; establishing a separate DE&I strategy with quantifiable objectives; and providing flexible work options.

Firstly, it was found that the percentage of women in senior management positions increases when a member of the C-suite, of any gender, leads alongside a senior female leader. In Vietnam, around 63% of mid-market businesses indicated that the CEO is in charge of the firm's DE&I strategies while the other C-suite members’ involvement is not as significant. Therefore, it is advisable that the CEOs of mid-market firms in Vietnam work with a female senior leader in overseeing DE&I strategies to drive the greatest increase in the percentage of senior management positions held by women.

Secondly, to achieve parity of women in senior management roles, businesses need to have a dedicated DE&I strategy in place. The most successful strategy is one which focuses on DE&I alone, independent of a broader ESG strategy. The DE&I strategy needs to outline specific actions and plans focused on achieving DEI goals, including achieving gender equality in leadership.

The final pathway to parity is the ability to work flexibly. Working flexibly can help women thrive professionally while balancing personal responsibilities. However, there has been a dramatic shift back to office-based working among global mid-market firms in the past 12 months. 47% of businesses are now primarily office-based (compared to 36% last year) and 45% are hybrid (compared to 53% last year). According to Grant Thornton International’s analysis, this is potentially being driven by male CEOs – 50% of businesses with a male CEO are predominantly office-based, compared to 40% of female led businesses. Vietnam's data also reveals the prevailing preference for the office-based model, which could hinder progress towards gender parity in its mid-market sector.

Through this report, Grant Thornton urges businesses to heed the call for action and seize the opportunity to drive meaningful change. As the global economy evolves, maintaining focus on gender parity is essential to ensure a prosperous and equitable future for all.

“Beyond being a moral imperative, achieving gender parity and embracing DE&I practices are crucial for businesses to foster innovation, enhance organizational resilience, and ultimately drive sustained success in an ever-evolving global landscape.” says Nguyen Chi Trung, CEO and Managing Partner of Grant Thornton Vietnam. 

Notes to editors:

International Business Report

The Grant Thornton International Business Report (IBR) is the world’s leading mid-market business survey, interviewing approximately 5,000 senior executives biannually in listed and privately held companies all over the world.

Launched in 1992 in nine European countries, the report now surveys around 10,000 business leaders in 28 countries on an annual basis, providing insights on the economic and commercial issues affecting the growth prospects of companies globally.

The findings in this report are drawn from around 5,000 interviews conducted between October and November 2023 with chief executive officers, managing directors, chairs, and other senior decision-makers from all industry sectors in mid-market businesses in 28 countries.

More information:

Grant Thornton’s Women in Business report

For 20 years, Grant Thornton International’s Women in Business report (“WIB”) has cast a light on issues surrounding gender diversity in senior management among the world’s mid-market businesses, exposing barriers and identifying actions for change.

Based on this WIB report, Grant Thornton Vietnam has collectively gathered information and survey results relevant to the Vietnamese market. Accordingly, this report should be read in connection with Grant Thornton International’s WIB report 2024 at