Divergent numbers and uneven progress can be seen among the five Asian markets covered – Mainland China, Hong Kong SAR, India, Japan, and Singapore.
A recent analysis performed by Deloitte highlights the share of women in C-suite roles in financial services institutions (FSIs) across Asia. Divergent numbers and uneven progress can be seen among the five Asian markets covered in the report across the three types of roles studied:
- C-suite: C-titled roles at the corporate leadership level (e.g., chief executive officer, chief financial officer, chief marketing officer).
- Senior leadership: Non–C-titled executives (e.g., line-of-business leaders, division chiefs or regional leaders, EVPs, SVPs or equivalent). Depending on the institution, this may be one to three levels below the C-suite.
- Next generation: Manager or equivalent titles below senior leadership.
We’ve pulled out the key data for your easy reading:
The last two decades of data reflects incremental growth in women’s share of roles across all role categories. At present, women account for 17.4% of senior leadership roles. However, forecasts show the C-suite growing to 14.8% and next generation to 23.5% by 2030.
Overall, there has been greater public acceptance of women in leadership,and the government has promoted gender equality as a fundamental goal in its social development policies. Through legislative and administrative measures, the government also allocates resources to help women achieve their equal rights in political, economic, cultural, social, and family life.
Recognising that women experienced greater hardship since the beginning of the pandemic, efforts are underway to reimagine and reshape the future of work and corporate culture through provisions such as greater flexibility in working hours, paid mental health leave, and 30 additional days of maternity leave.
Hong Kong SAR
Analysis of the previous two decades of women’s share of C-suite roles reflects a noteworthy 12.5 pps growth and 8.5 pps in the senior leadership segment. However, growth has been incremental over the last few years, influencing the forecast through 2030. Recognising that supporting women’s advancement can be a competitive advantage, FSIs in Hong Kong SAR are taking steps to further embrace gender equity and make diversity an organisational priority.
Historically, a lack of flexible work arrangements has been an impediment for women trying to progress in the workplace and for organisations aiming to retain them. Offering solutions such as flexible working hours, technology-enabled remote work, mentoring and sponsorship programmes, and building a culture where innovation is encouraged, are shown to improve outcomes for women.
Digital transformation across the financial services industry has also sparked a need to develop and retain STEM talent. As an international financial center, FSIs in Hong Kong SAR should look to their next generation segment to meet the demand for STEM leaders.
India’s FSI C-suite segment has grown by 5 pps over the last two decades. However, India could potentially face a pipeline problem as the share of women in the C-suite is expected to grow at a much faster pace compared to senior leadership and next generation roles.
And while women around the world tend to spend a greater share of their time than men on unpaid work, this is especially acute in India. Given that, FSIs should focus on addressing the need for child care and providing flexible working options to retain women, especially at the next generation and senior leadership levels.
As with many industrialised nations, in Japan, capitalising on female talent could be essential amid a shrinking workforce. The 2030 forecast, which is weighted towards most recent gains or reductions, reflects a declining share in C-suite and senior leadership roles.
The reasons for the slow growth and comparatively lower share of women in leadership are, in part, deeply rooted in the country’s cultural fabric, pushing many women to prefer non-managerial, part-time jobs. Additional factors hindering women’s career progression include biases toward women managers, long working hours, limited child care options, a taxation system that prioritises sole breadwinners over dual-income families, and an absence of role models.
However, organizations are under pressure to improve gender diversity; companies listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange are now required to publish their diversity policies and goals. And the government has extended the timeline for reaching its target of 30% participation of women in executive roles to 2030.
A recent survey on the promotion of women in Japanese companies revealed the overall share of women in management roles is 8.9% across industries and highlights the gap between the government’s goal and Japanese society today. It will take time for the government-level and organisational-level to weave their way into becoming accepted, long-term business practices, but with support from stakeholders, equitable outcomes may be within reach.
Interestingly, Singapore is the only nation in Deloitte’s analysis forecasted to reach parity in next generation roles by the end of the decade. Although there has been double-digit growth (18 pps) of the share of women in the C-suite over the last 20 years, its forecasting model reflects a reduction in the C-suite to 15.3% by 2030. Meanwhile, the share of senior leadership roles is forecast to remain constant at 24.5% through 2030.
The fact that Singapore’s government has made diversity a priority is expected to help reverse the forecasted decline. In fact, many Asian markets, including Singapore, offer low-cost child care options, including live-in domestic workers, and government subsidies for child care that women should capitalise on to ensure they aren’t disadvantaged when they have children.
THIO Tse Gan, Financial Services Industry Leader, Deloitte Southeast Asia, commented: “Historically, a lack of flexible working arrangements has been an impediment for women seeking to progress in the workplace, and for financial institutions seeking to retain them. But this is quickly changing: as one of the leading fintech powerhouses globally, Singapore’s financial services industry has rapidly embraced flexible working hours; technology-enabled remote work; mentoring, allyship, and sponsorship programmes; and innovative cultures – all of which have been shown to improve outcomes for women.”
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