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Women in Business: new perspectives on risk and reward

Grant Thornton



Influencing Gender Norms Workplace Gender Equality

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Women in Business: new perspectives on risk and reward

Women in Business: new perspectives on risk and reward

The Women in business: New perspectives on risk and reward report from Grant Thornton surveys the role of women in business and considers the issue of risk and reward. The report explores the different ways in which men and women see risk and opportunity, and how they act differently as a result.

The report considers how companies can recognise, celebrate and seize upon these differences. The report also provides a number of recommendations on how to increase the number of women in senior leadership positions for the benefit of businesses as a whole, and risk strategies in particular.


  • Women in ASEAN economies held 36% of senior management roles in 2017, increasing from 34% in 2016. Among ASEAN countries, Indonesia and the Philippines had the highest proportion of women in senior management, at 46% and 40%, respectively.
  • The report finds that diversity is key to business success. With a mixture of men and women at the helm, companies are better prepared for all eventualities. And yet, in 2017 the needle has barely shifted. Each year, the report seeks to add new insights and recommendations that will further understanding of and solutions for greater gender diversity.
  • Risk management is the process of identifying, evaluating and managing uncertainty. It is vital for business success. Men and women perceive and respond to risk in different ways, contrasting in how they balance speed and decisiveness with careful consideration. Brought together, these strengths facilitate effective risk strategies for the sustainable growth of dynamic businesses.
  • The proportion of senior leadership roles held by women has moved by just one percent in 12 months – from 24% in 2016 to 25% in 2017 – and four percent in the last five years. Moreover, the percentage of businesses with no women in senior leadership has risen at the same rate – from 33% in 2016 to 34% in 2017 – with no improvement since 2012.
  • Diversity is a commercial imperative. Broaden the diversity of a group and you widen its peripheral vision. Diverse teams benefit from connections to a wider network, increased legitimacy among stakeholders and better decision-making. But despite a growing consensus among business leaders on this issue, the pace of change is painfully slow.
  • A growing area of study also explores the tendency for women to be mentored and not sponsored. Mentoring involves support and advice offered by an employee to another employee a level or more below them in the company structure. It should be a private, developmental relationship between two people. A sponsor, on the other hand, advocates for employees below them at the decision-making table when it comes to staffing high-profile projects and promotions. They have the power to effect change on women’s behalf.


  • Foreword from Francesca Lagerberg
  • Executive summary
  • Diversity in leadership
  • Gender and risk
  • Recommendations
  • How Grant Thornton can help
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