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The gender diversity divide: “I don’t see what the problem is” say the men

Updated: 14 Apr 2016
  • 13 per cent of men compared to 28 per cent of women think that equally capable male and female colleagues are not paid or rewarded in an equal manner
  • 24 per cent of men compared to 47 per cent of women do not believe that the same career opportunities are available to all, regardless of gender
  • Just 16 per cent of respondents believe gender quotas can have a big impact; instead better board backing, changing organisational policy and allowing more flexible working practices are key. 

Women are less likely than their male co-workers to believe that pay equality and equal opportunities exist for both genders in the workplace, according to a new survey by recruiting experts Hays in China. 

Hays, an organisation known for supporting the advancement of women in the workplace, says that although progress is being made, gender diversity remains a business critical issue.   

In the Hays survey of 521 professionals in China, 13 per cent of men think that equally capable male and female workers are not paid or rewarded equally, compared to 28 per cent of women.  

The survey also found that almost one in two women (47 per cent) compared to one in five men (24 per cent) say that the same career opportunities are not open to equally capable colleagues of both genders. 

What did people think would improve gender diversity?

To achieve gender diversity , 71 per cent of respondents said that better board backing for diversity issues would have the biggest impact. This was followed changes to  organisational policy (59 per cent), allowing more flexible working pracices (55 per cent), changes to government policy (36 per cent), changes to recruitment practices and policies (32 per cent), changes in workplace culturae through education across the business (31%), highlighting female role models (25 per cent), and positive discrimination of female role models applying to management roles and above (25 per cent).

Just 16 per cent of respondents said implementing quotas would have a big impact, showing the vast majority believe that cultural change and practical measures, rather than formal quotas, are the answer. 

"Our survey shows there is a major disparity between the views of men and women when it comes to equal pay and equal opportunities,” says Christine Wright, Managing Director of Hays in Asia. 

“We found that more women than men think the sexes aren’t paid or rewarded equally, while more than double the number of women to men say the same career options are not open to both genders. 

“This suggests that most people in executive and senior management roles –the majority of which are men – still fail to see any inequality when it comes to pay and career opportunities between the sexes. This makes it difficult to see how we will see any significant advancement in this area while the majority of people in senior roles do not recognise it as an issue.  

“Given all the research espousing the benefits of a gender-diverse workforce, it is a paradox therefore that we still see such a gap in representation and a disproportionately low number of women in leadership positions, who are supported and encouraged to reach their career goals, and who are paid equally. Many organisations now have specific programmes in place to address this issue, yet it has to be asked how successful these might be given that the majority of our survey respondents felt as though no imbalance existed in terms of pay or opportunities. Maybe this lack of recognition of the issue is the real obstacle to change." 

Where aspiring female leaders should work

The survey also found that the financial service sector was named by 48 per cent of respondents as having formal gender diversity policies and practices in place. This was followed by IT/telecommunications (40 per cent) and mining/resources (37 per cent). At the other end of the scale, just 22 per cent of employers in the public/not-for-profit industry have formal gender diversity policies and practices in place.  

Across all industries, 40 per cent of the entire survey pool said their organisation does not have a gender diversity policy in place, and a further 24 per cent were unsure. Alarmingly, even when policies are in place one in four respondents (23 per cent) say they are not adhered to “at all”.  

In positive news, the IT/telecommunications industry was voted by its employees as most likely to adhere to these policies (84 per cent of IT/telecommunications employees said their organisation adheres to their policies “well” or “fairly well”). This was followed by financial services (74%), manufacturing (74%), and professional service (73%). 

For more, please go to to access the full report .  

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About Hays

Hays is the leading global specialist recruiting group. It is the expert at recruiting qualified, professional and skilled people worldwide.  

Hays Specialist Recruitment  (Shanghai) Co., Limited ("Hays China") operates across the public and private sector, dealing in permanent positions. Hays China’s eighteen specialisms span Accountancy & Finance, Banking, Architecture, Construction, Education, Engineering, Executive, Finance Technology, Human Resources, Hays Resource Management, Information Technology, Insurance, Life Sciences, Manufacturing & Operations, Oil & Gas, Property and Sales & Marketing. 

Hays China operates four local offices in Shanghai, Beijing, Suzhou and Guangzhou. It is the local representative office for Hays plc, which is a global company. As at 31 December 2014 Hays employed 8,748 staff operating from 244 offices in 33 countries across 20 specialisms. For the year ended 30 June 2014, Hays placed around 57,000 candidates into permanent jobs and around 212,000 people into temporary assignments. 24% of Group net fees were generated in Asia Pacific. 

Hays operates in the following countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Chile, China, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UAE, the UK and the USA.