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Women in business and management: Gaining momentum in Asia and the Pacific

International Labour Organization


Asia Pacific


Workplace Gender Equality

Gender equality Workplace Gender Equality Women in the workplace Women in work Workplace diversity Women in business

Women in business and management: Gaining momentum in Asia and the Pacific

Women in business and management: Gaining momentum in Asia and the Pacific

The Women in Business and Management: Gaining Momentum in Asia and the Pacific report from the International Labour Organization brings together the most recent statistics, trends and information on the situation of women in business and management in order to provide insight into practicalities, realities and understandings of companies in the Asia-Pacific region. Overall, the regional report also aims to create greater understanding on the barriers to women’s advancement in business and management and to share recommendations on how to address these barriers.

The report details how achieving gender diversity is increasingly seen as necessary for competitive business performance. As more women participate and become competitive in the labour market, they become engines for economic growth within countries and more broadly in the region. However, still very few women attain top management positions or serve as chairpersons or members of company boards despite the increasingly evident conclusion of a growing number of studies that gender diversity contributes to the bottom line.


  • The report illustrates that while some progress has been made, much remains to be done in the region in terms of gender equality in the workplace. In around 55 per cent of companies surveyed, either women represented 10 per cent or less of senior managers, or no women were appointed at senior management level.
  • Women make up little more than 5 per cent of chief executive officers (CEOs) of publicly listed companies. The data clearly illustrate the lack of women in top management positions and the concentration of women in specific types of management and occupations.
  • Based on available data, there are three countries in the Asia-Pacific region in which more than 5 per cent of CEOs are women, namely, China, New Zealand and Vietnam. In the public sector, Mongolia, New Zealand and the Philippines, are included in the 22 countries in the world where 40 per cent or more of their legislators, senior officials and managers are women.
  • Increasingly evidence shows that gender diversity is indeed good for business competitiveness and productivity. Women represent a mostly untapped pool of talent, crucial for business in an age where talent and skill shortages are limiting business growth. Women today are better educated. In 11 of the 24 countries for which data were available women were the majority of all tertiary graduates and students. Yet, 50 per cent of businesses in the region reported that the retention of women in the workplace was a problem.
  • This report highlights the double burden women face in balancing family and work responsibilities and battling gender stereotypes. Considerable strain is placed on women in the region given that they own or manage approximately 30 per cent of all businesses ranging from self-employed (or own account workers), micro and small enterprises to medium and large companies. The report serves to highlight the key role of employers’ organisations in supporting business and advocating for gender equality and women’s equal opportunity employment in the workplace and provides an overview of key actions for business.


  • Preface
  • Acknowledgements
  • Abbreviations
  • The business case for advancing women in business and management
  • Women in business leadership in Asia-Pacific
  • Barriers to women’s leadership
  • An expanding pool of female talent
  • Gender pay gaps in the Asia-Pacific region
  • The glass ceiling remains intact and female talent is underutilised
  • Getting rid of the glass ceiling and glass walls
  • What can companies do?
  • Women in business and management: Gaining momentum in Asia and the Pacific
  • Advocating for women in business and management
  • Role of employers’ organisations in Asia and the Pacific
  • Conclusion
  • Annexes
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