MANILA, Philippines — Women are gaining more influence in the corporate boardrooms of the Philippines than in most other places in the world, making the country the third highest employer of senior female executives globally.
Based on a Grant Thornton International Business Report (IBR) released on Monday, four out of 10 senior roles in the Philippines are filled by women, an improvement from last year’s 37 percent and higher than the 24 percent global average.
This boosted the country’s ranking in the global league of countries with the highest proportion of women holding senior posts to third place this 2014 from fifth in the previous year’s ranking.
In this latest survey, the Philippines was just behind Russia (first) as well as Indonesia and Latvia (which tied for second place).
The survey also found that board of directors in the Philippines typically comprised of at least 6 to 7 people, two of whom are women. This puts the local proportion of women directors at 31 percent or much better than the global average of just 17 percent.
The IBR results were released by audit, tax, advisory and outsourcing services firm Punongbayan & Araullo (P&A) – Grant Thornton’s member firm in the Philippines – shortly after the March 8 International Women’s Day.
“If you look at the historical data for the Philippines, you can see that generally, there is gender diversity at the top of the business ladder,” said Marivic Españo, chair and CEO of P&A. “Leadership posts are very much accessible to women here. So I think what we in the business community can do is make sure the road to the top remains open to women, even working mothers who face particular challenges.”
The IBR also looked into the roles women play in upper management: This year, there are more Filipina CEOs (chief executive officers) – 37 percent this year from 23 percent last year; and COOs (chief operating officers) – to 26 percent from 15 percent. The proportion of Filipina CFOs (chief finance officers) has been steady at 59 percent.
Globally, only 19 percent of CEOs were women. The most common role for women globally was that of human resource director, at 36 percent.
For the first time, the IBR asked business leaders worldwide what efforts they have put in place to support working mothers. The most common practice cited was to offer flexible work arrangements: 63 percent of respondents say they have in place flexi-time or the option to work outside the office. A little over half of respondents – 51 percent – also offer working mothers the opportunity to buy extra vacation leaves or to take unpaid leaves. Only 6 percent offer on-site childcare facilities.
In the Philippines, 60 percent of business leaders offer flexible work arrangements, while 56 percent offer mentoring and coaching, and paid maternity leave beyond what is legally required.