Eighty percent of businesses in Malaysia now have at least one woman on their senior management team compared with the global average of 75 percent, according to Grant Thornton International Ltd’s annual “Women in Business” report.
The percentage of women in senior management, meanwhile, has increased to 28 percent this year from 24 percent 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 percent of businesses this year had at least one woman on the senior management team against 66 percent in 2017.
However, women only make up 24 percent of senior management compared with 25 percent previously.
“While it is hugely positive that women are in senior roles at more businesses, it is disappointing that they 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 and 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 percent of businesses adopting equal pay for men and women performing the same roles, and 66 percent implementing non-discrimination policies for recruitment.
Measures that supported working parents were also popular among businesses, including paid parental leave (42 percent) and flexible hours (24 percent).
The report also said companies in Malaysia were motivated to introduce gender equality policies mainly to attract and keep employees (73 percent), enhance company performance (73 percent), live up to organisational values (73 percent), meet the expectations of wider society (58 percent) and follow the vision of senior leadership (51 percent).
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 percent of businesses have at least one woman in senior management) and Eastern Europe (87 percent).
The report said emerging economies also continued to see the highest proportion of women in senior roles, including Asean (39 percent), Latin America (30 percent) and Africa (30 percent).
The “Women in Business” report was published to coincide with International Women’s Day 2018.