VN leads Asia in corporate gender diversity

Saturday, Jun 24, 2017 09:37

Mai Kieu Lien, Chief Executive Officer of the Viet Nam Dairy Products Joint Stock Company (VINAMILK), named by Forbes as one of the top 50 businesswomen in Asia 2012. — Photo

The corporate sector in Viet Nam is ahead of every other country in Asia in terms of gender diversity, with women accounting for 17.6 per cent of the country’s total company board members.

The fifth edition of “Women in the Boardroom: A Global Perspective”, put out by Deloitte Global, says Viet Nam has the continent’s largest percentage of women holding top corporate jobs. If it achieves its plan, 35 per cent of the nation’s entrepreneurs will be female by 2020.

“With 50 per cent of the population being women and the percentage of women-owned enterprises reaching 30 per cent in 2015, Viet Nam is seeing a growing number of women serving on boards,’ said Ha Thi Thu Thanh, Chairwoman of Deloitte Vietnam.

Thanh suggested that having female board members helps broaden company perspectives, promotes creativity and facilitates sustainable development decisions. She said that over the past 25 years, businesses led by women have been growing steadily in the country.

Deloitte’s study looked at 7,000 companies across 64 economies, and found that women account for only 7.8 percent of board directors in Asia despite diversity quotas and other initiatives. Though this number is slightly higher than that of Latin and South America at 7 per cent, it is much lower than Europe’s 22.6 per cent and North America’s 14.5 per cent.

Nonetheless, Asia Pacific countries still lag behind other nations in gender diversity. The majority of Asia’s leading economies have the lowest corporate gender equality percentage points, just a handful of countries in the region have gender quotas or other measures to redress the imbalance.

In Asia, Viet Nam outperformed Malaysia at 13.7 per cent and Singapore at 10.2 per cent. Surprisingly, advanced economies such as Japan, South Korea and Taiwan were placed at the bottom on the regional list.

The percentage of women occupying board seats in Asia is improving but the pace of change is still slow compared to global statistics, said Ernest Kan, who heads the Deloitte Southeast Asia Centre for Corporate Governance.

‘There is much more that can be done to create an environment that would enable women to break the glass ceiling and accelerate boardroom diversity. Strong leadership is needed to change the board’s composition by focusing on identifying capable and board ready individuals,’ Kan added.

The Deloitte study argues that having a female chief executive officer ‘breeds further diversity’, as female company leaders are more eager to hire other women to higher paying positions. It also warns that despite the current favourable environment for women in Viet Nam, gender inequality is still widely prevalent in the country and around the world. — VNS

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