Breaking Barriers: India is leading with 36% of women in leadership positions, surpassing the global average of 32%

Corporate leaders are making endless efforts to increase gender diversity within their organisations. The percentage of women in senior management across all regions - including Africa, APAC, ASEAN, Latin America, North America, and the EU - has surpassed 30% for the first time in history. Nonetheless, globally, the CEO and MD roles have a higher proportion of female employees.

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Gender diversity is important in every organization. Having both women and men in a team allows the company to gain advantages from the different perspectives and approaches that come from different life experiences. Most organizations tough are still dealing with gender gap issues. According to Grant Thornton’s International Business Report, India’s mid-market businesses have 36% of women holding senior management positions, which is 4% higher than the global average of 32%.

Mid-market companies have revenues ranging between $10 million and $1 billion.

For nearly two decades, Grant Thornton‘s International Business Report (IBR) has been shedding light on the crucial topic of gender diversity in senior management positions within mid-market businesses. The report has been instrumental in uncovering barriers to progress, as well as identifying key factors that facilitate change.

Ironically, 5% of mid-market businesses in India have not yet appointed any women to senior leadership positions, as opposed to 9% globally.

As society pursues gender equality in professional environments, it is promising to observe advancements in the inclusion of women in higher-ranking managerial roles.

To push for better parity, businesses must adopt a hybrid or flexible approach, create a supportive and understanding culture, and focus on employee well-being and mentoring programmes that support women,” Grant Thornton Bharat Partner Pallavi Bakhru said.

Promoting diversity, particularly in upper-level positions, is not only a moral obligation but also a beneficial business strategy, as research has demonstrated that it enhances overall performance.

Women in Senior Positions: Key Findings

  • The global ranking of women in senior leadership roles has improved as a result of outstanding regional performances in 2023. The percentage of women in senior management across all regions – including Africa, APAC, ASEAN, Latin America, North America, and the EU – has surpassed 30% for the first time in history.
  • The largest percentage point gain was seen in the ASEAN region, where women make up 40% of senior management roles in 2023, up from 37% in 2022.
  • Latin America saw an increase of 2 per cent point, from 35% to 37%, while the European Union’s performance remained flat at 33%.
  • In late 2022, APAC overtook North America for the first time since 2018 in terms of women in senior management roles. The percentage of women in APAC climbed from 30% to 32% in four years. India undoubtedly plays a significant role in promoting gender diversity in the workplace.
  • North America, on the other hand, was the only region to experience a decline, from 33% to 31%.
  • Country-wise, India is leading with 36% of women in leadership positions, surpassing the current global average of 32%, the BRICS average of 34%, and the International Group of Seven (G7) average of 30%.
  • However, the picture is less than rosy when it comes to job roles like Sales. LinkedIn recently revealed that women make up only 19% of the overall sales workforce in India. Out of these, only 13% held senior positions.
  • Grant Thornton’s report also indicates that companies that provide options such as hybrid, flexible, or remote work arrangements tend to have greater success in promoting women to senior management positions.
  • A majority (53%) of mid-market businesses worldwide have adopted a hybrid approach to work, while 36% of companies strictly follow the work-from-office culture.
  • Although the proportion of women holding senior leadership roles has slightly increased in 2023, there has been a significant rise in the number of women taking on the roles of CEO, MD, and CIO.
  • The percentage of women holding CEO/MD positions worldwide has increased from 15% in 2019 to 28% in 2023. Female CIO (Chief Information Officer) positions also rose from 16% to 23% during the same period.
  • Currently, a whopping 40% of women working in global companies are HR Directors, 38% are CFOs (Chief Financial Officers), and 25% are CMOs (Chief Marketing Officers) and 25% are COOs (Chief Operating Officers).


Despite endless efforts, this year’s Grant Thornton IBR report reveals that progress towards achieving greater gender diversity in senior leadership roles is alarmingly sluggish. There is an urgent need for businesses to take meaningful action and implement strategies that actively promote and support women’s advancement to top-tier positions.

Therefore, to speed up advancement, there is a need for more initiatives that are focused on policy or promoting change, along with a higher level of transparency regarding opportunities for leadership roles. Additionally, the business culture should actively endorse and enable diversity within top-tier leadership positions.

That has been a huge advantage in nations like India, where the government mandates that women are entitled to six months of paid maternity leave. This has encouraged more women to continue in their professions rather than abandoning them after having children.


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