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Press Release

The path towards gender equality requires the adoption of actionable measures

Grant Thornton Women in Business report celebrates 20 years of insights.

In recognition of International Women’s Day, Grant Thornton has launched its International Women in Business report, which reports on actionable steps for businesses to take towards achieving gender parity. 

Locally in Australia, Grant Thornton has been taking positive action through numerous initiatives and policies for many years.  In the recently released annual company reported gender pay gaps, published publicly for the first time for organisations with 100 or more employees by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency’s (WGEA), Grant Thornton Australia achieved industry-leading results in favour of women, with a median gender pay gap of -7.7 per cent (base) or -8.1 per cent (total)1.
Holly Stiles, Partner, National Head of Corporate Finance and Executive Sponsor of the Gender Equity Network at Grant Thornton Australia said, “We are proud of these results which demonstrate the positive progress achieved by Grant Thornton’s many diversity initiatives. However, there is still more work to be done and we will continue our deep commitment to diversity and inclusion, through positive actions towards achieving gender equity in all aspects of our organisation.”  

In 2016 Grant Thornton introduced an industry-leading 26 weeks of paid parental leave, and in 2021 enhanced its parental leave policy with the payment of superannuation on unpaid leave. More recently in May 2022, the firm launched its Gender Equity Network, a pillar of its Gender Equity Action Plan.

Grant Thornton Women in Business Report

Celebrating its 20th year, Grant Thornton’s "Pathways to Parity: 20 Years of Women in Business Insights" report suggests that tangible actions on gender parity will have a clear positive impact for businesses. The report marks two decades of dedicated research aimed at monitoring and measuring the representation of women in senior management roles within mid-market companies worldwide and identifies three clear pathways to parity.  

Diversity initiatives must be led by diverse individuals 

Grant Thornton’s Women in Business research shows a higher chance of increasing women in senior management roles at 38 per cent when the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) strategy is led by the Executive Leadership team alongside a female leader within the business. The Women in Business research also shows business optimism is higher at 35 per cent in companies with a higher percentage of women in senior leadership roles showing diversity isn’t just a moral imperative, but also has commercial benefits. 

Himashini Weeraratne, Head of Financial Services Tax and Head of ESG Tax Group, Grant Thornton Australia said, “When women occupy senior management roles, their diverse perspectives and unique problem-solving approaches directly impact financial performance. This inclusion drives innovative strategies, enhances risk management, and ultimately leads to improved financial results.” 

Businesses must have a DE&I strategy in place 

The research shows that businesses with a DE&I strategy, but no ESG strategy, have the highest average percentage of women in senior management roles at 38 per cent, whilst businesses with both an ESG and DE&I strategy have 36 per cent. This number drops to 28 per cent for businesses that have neither. Further, understanding and measuring outcomes is crucial to success of the strategy. 

“Having a specific DE&I strategy is important and enables a deeper focus on practical initiatives to drive change towards equity. This strategy should be entwined into business objectives and embedded in the organisation’s culture and values,” Holly Stiles continued. 

“At Grant Thornton, our most recent National Engagement Survey found 90 per cent of people at the firm agreed that Grant Thornton Leaders proactively support diversity and inclusion initiatives. It’s critical that our DE&I strategy and policies are actively supported by not only our CEO and executive leadership, but our senior leaders and our people throughout the firm.”  

Flexible working practices are key 

Embracing flexible work allows for the pipeline of senior female leaders to flourish, with companies accommodating home-based work practices showing the highest rate of women in senior management positions at 41 per cent. This number decreases with the more office-based requirements there are for employees. 

At Grant Thornton, our policies are designed to increase the participation of women in the workplace and retain talented females throughout their career journey. Our ‘Flex Appeal' policy allowing our people to work flexibly in way that works for them has been in place since 2016, and in 2023 we introduced a market-leading 9-Day Fortnight trial. With over 25 per cent of Grant Thornton Partners, a third of our Executive Team, and 40 per cent of our Board members being female, our flexible work practices are evidence of the impact that tangible measures have on women in leadership positions. These flexible work arrangements and family-friendly policies have been externally recognised by Family Friendly Workplaces, a body that reviews and evaluates the effectiveness of these policies and practices as enablers of workplace diversity and inclusion, health and wellbeing. 

Research methodology of the Grant Thornton International Business Report

Grant Thornton’s International Business Report (IBR) is a survey of mid-market businesses. Launched in 1992, the IBR now provides insight into the views and expectations of more than 10,000 businesses across 28 economies. Questionnaires are translated into local languages and fieldwork is undertaken on a biannual basis, through both online and telephone interviews. The data for this release is from interviews conducted in October to December 2022 with chief executive officers, managing directors, chairperson or other senior executives from all industry sectors.



1 While the WGEA results study the data for our people nationally, it does not include Partners, Principals, or Directors.  

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