KUALA LUMPUR, March 8 (Bernama) — The Grant Thornton International Business Report (IBR) has revealed that Malaysia has the highest number of women in the workforce, of up to 40 per cent, compared with other Asean countries.

However, the country had the lowest senior roles occupied by women, at only 26 per cent.

In a statement, Grant Thornton said the data also showed that Malaysia is the third lowest globally to have women on the board of companies as Chairman, Chief Executive Officer, Chief Financial Officer, Executive and Non-Executive Directors.

“The positions held most by women in the senior management are Human Resource Director (37 per cent), Chief Financial Officer (36 per cent) and Sales Director (23 per cent),” it added.

SJ Grant Thornton Managing Partner Datuk NK Jasani said women are playing a major role in driving the world’s growth economies, bringing balance to the decision making process and the smooth running of their companies.

“Businesses need to wake up to gender disparity and add this crucial ingredient to long-term growth and profitability.

“Gender diversity is good for business as it increases financial performance, enriches brand perception in the marketplace, improves problem-solving, enhances team and individual creativity, as well as boost employee satisfaction and retention,” he added.

The IBR data revealed that 55 per cent of businesses worldwide said they would be against the idea of quotas for the number of women on executive boards of large listed companies.

“In the absence of quotas, what will ultimately spur businesses on to include more women in senior roles is the belief, that performance will improve and growth will be healthier if they do so.

“What our research shows is that it is good practice, and those regions adopting it, are currently outperforming those who are not,” Jasani said.