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Vietnam's Work Environment Is Asia’s Most Gender-Diverse: Report

Gender diversity throughout corporations in Asia is very low, but Vietnam has the continent's largest percentage of women in its boardrooms.

In the fifth edition of Deloitte Global’s Women in the Boardroom: A Global Perspective study, the current state of boardroom gender diversity is examined 7,000 companies in 64 countries. Sadly, the numbers have barely budged since the 2015 edition and, at present, women only hold 15% of seats worldwide and a meager 4% of CEO and board chair positions.

Vietnam, however, outperformed every other country in Asia with women comprising 17.6% of its board members, reports Bloomberg. The average throughout the continent is 7.8%, which is slightly higher than Latin and South America’s 7.2%, but significantly lower than Europe’s 22.6%.

Behind Vietnam, Malaysia came in second at 13.7%, and Singapore ranked third at 10.2%. The Asian countries ranking the lowest were South Korea, Japan and Taiwan.

Deloitte mentioned that although Vietnam has no gender quotas, the country aims to bring the number of female entrepreneurs up to 35% by 2020.

VnExpress reports that Ha Thi Thu Thanh, chairwoman of Deloitte Vietnam, said in a statement, “Vietnam is seeing a growing number of women serving on boards.” She added, “In fact, over the past 25 years, after the Law on Enterprise came into effect, businesses led by women have been seen to grow steadily and sustainably in Vietnam.”

The country also boasts Southeast Asia’s only female billionaire: Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao, founder of VietJet Airlines. Forbes recently estimated her net worth at US$1.7 billion.

Billionaires aside, studies show that gender-balanced workplaces have higher returns on sales, increased stock prices and fresh perspectives as the result of an inclusive workforce.

Marleen Dieleman, an associate professor of strategy and policy at the National University of Singapore, told Bloomberg, “You need to have sufficient variety, in terms of viewpoints, experience, etc., at the board level to successfully deal with the complexity of your environment.”

The Deloitte study also suggests that having a female chief executive officer breeds further diversity, as companies with a female leader are twice as likely to hire other women in higher-paying positions.

Initiatives such as Coca-Cola’s EKOCENTER and the SheStarts Forum, hosted by the American Center, aim to empower young female entrepreneurs in Vietnam.

[Photo via VnExpress]

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