The world is celebrating International Women's Day on Thursday, but few hold top positions in corporate houses worldwide as a latest survey shows that only 14 per cent of women in India make it to the senior management level.
According to the latest finding of Grant Thornton's International Business Report, four in 10 businesses worldwide have no women senior managers and less than a quarter (22 per cent) of top positions are filled by the fairer sex.
Asian continent dominates the top position with 97 per cent of women in the Philippines in higher management levels, while only 14 per cent of Indian women make it to the top corporate ladder.
"The world over, gender equality remains a contentious issue. Political and corporate rhetoric does not reflect the ground reality. The Grant Thornton report, however, indicates some hopeful trends with Asia taking the lead. When Indian politicians pontificate about 'inclusive growth,' women are never factored even though their status is that of minorities," founder of Biocon Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw said.
The study shows a sharp disparity even within Asia, as Japan has just 25 per cent of businesses boasting of fairer sex at the top positions.
According to Grant Thornton, the global figure for businesses with "no women' in senior management positions has remained unchanged at 38 per cent since 2004, while countries like the US, Mexico, Russia, Poland, Italy and New Zealand have witnessed a fall in businesses with women senior managers.
On a saving grace, India is among the countries witnessing an increased participation of women in senior levels along with places like Taiwan, the Philippines, Hong Kong and Sweden.
"India is seeing an increasing number of women occupying management positions in leading companies, both listed and privately held. In India, globalisation has provided opportunities for educated, middle class women to build their own dreams and excel in fields, which were hitherto perceived as male domains," Pallavi Bhakru, partner and director-international business at Grant Thornton said.
However, with nuclear families on the rise and no support system, most of them give up their lucrative careers once they get into motherhood, completely out of their own choice, and hence very few make it to the top," she added.
About 56 per cent of businesses in India have women at senior levels, as against the global average of 59 per cent.
In China the proportion of business with women in senior management is 91 per cent, Brazil boasts of 85 per cent while Japan has just 25 per cent at the top positions.
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