One out of three in Singapore’s senior business leadership team are female but only 9% of businesses have a female CEO, a recent study that coincides with today’s International Women’s Day shows.

The survey, conducted by Grant Thornton International shows, shows that in Singapore, women now make up 33% of their companies’ senior management team, the highest it has ever been in GTI’s study, Women in Business. This proportion beats the averages in the ASEAN (28%) and around the world (29%).

Human resources represent the largest proportion of women in senior management roles in Singapore as 41% of businesses polled in Singapore have a female Human Resources Director.

“This is aligned with the upward global trend, where the proportion of women in senior management has risen 10% over the last 15 years globally, with half of the increase achieved over the last year alone,” Grant Thornton Internationa report said.

While the number of women in senior leadership is on the rise, gender parity at the head of the table is still a significant way off, the study shows.

Moreover, 87% of businesses polled in Singapore have at least one woman on the senior management team, an increase of 9% over the past year. This is on par with the global average of 87% (with an increase of 12% over 2018) but below ASEAN’s 94%.

Whilst the number of women in senior leadership is increasing, gender parity at the head of the table is still a significant way off, the study revealed. When it comes to the role of CEO or managing director, only 15% of businesses globally have a woman leading the business. In Singapore, only 9% of businesses polled have a female CEO, lagging behind ASEAN’s 21% by a significant proportion.

Lorraine Parkin, partner and head of tax services at Grant Thornton Singapore, commented, “The Singapore data has shown that finding the time alongside core job responsibilities and lack of access to developmental work opportunities are two key barriers that prevent women from acquiring the skills and attributes to be successful in their leadership roles.”

Grant Thornton’s report investigates the role of both business and government policy in bringing about change. The data shows gender equality policies are abundant and widespread globally. Measures that support working parents are also popular among businesses, including paid parental leave (59%), flexible hours (57%) and part-time working (54%).

In Singapore, the top three common gender equality policies are paid parental leave (80%), equal pay for both men and women performing the same roles (76%), and non-discrimination policies for recruitment (74%).

The findings in this report are drawn from nearly 5000 interviews conducted between July and December 2017 with chief executive officers, managing directors, chairs, and other senior decision-makers from all industry sectors in mid-market businesses in 35 countries and regions. A further 14 in-depth interviews were conducted with business leaders from inside and outside Grant Thornton.