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Gender equality in the workplace: what does China think this IWD?

Updated: 19 Apr 2016

Womens Day

To coincide with today’s International Women’s Day (IWD) a new survey reveals that men still dominate senior roles in organisations while both men and women believe that females still face gender-based inequality at work.

The survey of over 11,500 people globally by recruiting experts Hays also found that there needs to be better support from all sides around gender diversity in order to promote women at the top. Particularly in China there is currently a severe imbalance between men and women in senior roles, with 87 per cent of Chinese respondents saying the most senior person of their organization is male, despite there being almost no difference in female and male ambition for such roles.

“We have seen a lot of progress in terms of gender equality in the workplace in China, with 5 per cent more women (42%) compared to men (37%) feeling they do have the opportunity to self-promote and communicate their ambitions at work, yet the number of women who reach senior management suggests that gender diversity remains a business critical issue,” says Christine Wright, Managing Director of Hays in Asia.

“Given that most people in executive and senior management roles are still men, it’s difficult to see how gender parity can be accelerated when many of those in positions of influence do not see any inequality issue to begin with.

Christine continues, “It’s interesting that there is little difference between male and female ambition for reaching senior positions. But as this survey shows, being able to promote your achievements is clearly not enough – women also need to be recruited into senior roles if they are to achieve their career ambition.

Of the respondents in China:

  • 61 per cent, both men and women, think there is equal pay between genders.
  • 66 per cent of men and 53 per cent of women said the same career opportunities are open to equally capable colleagues regardless of gender.
  • Female and male ambition for management and director roles is nearly identical. 46 per cent of women and 51 per cent of men aspire to reach director or MD/CEO level.
  • 87 per cent of all respondents, both men and women, said the most senior person within their organisation is male and 63 per cent said that their line manager is also male.
  • 42 per cent of women feel they have the opportunity in their current role to promote themselves and communicate their career ambitions compared to 37 per cent of men.
  • Meanwhile just 26 per cent of women and 33 per cent of men said their organisation has formal gender diversity policies and practices in place.
  • 33 per cent of all respondents, both men and women, think there should be gender diversity policy and flexible working practice in their organisations to support the advancement of women.
  • Respondents said the top 3 most effective measures in terms of improving gender diversity would be flexible working practices (42 per cent), a gender diversity policy (33 per cent) and female mentor and sponsorship programmes (29 per cent).

The 2016 IWD theme is ‘pledging for parity’. This year IWD calls for everyone, both men and women, “to pledge to take a concrete step to help achieve gender parity more quickly”.

What steps can we take? According to Hays employers should encourage female ambition, focus on employee self-promotion and implement and communicate gender diversity policies.

“Businesses need to make sure they have clear initiatives and development plans in place to retain and promote their top female talent. Employers also need to recognise the benefits of a gender diverse workforce, including a stronger talent pipeline, higher productivity and ultimately a more successful business. Clearly, addressing gender equality needs to be more than just a box-ticking exercise” , said Alistair Cox, CEO of Hays plc.

A full copy of the Hays Gender Diversity Report will be published and available later this month.

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About Hays
Hays plc (the "Group") is a leading global professional recruiting group. The Group is the expert at recruiting qualified, professional and skilled people worldwide, being the market leader in the UK and Asia Pacific and one of the market leaders in Continental Europe and Latin America. The Group operates across the private and public sectors, dealing in permanent positions, contract roles and temporary assignments. As at 31 December 2015 the Group employed 9,420 staff operating from 248 offices in 33 countries across 20 specialisms. For the year ended 30 June 2015:

– the Group reported net fees of £764.2 million and operating profit (pre-exceptional items) of £164.1 million;
– the Group placed around 63,000 candidates into permanent jobs and around 200,000 people into temporary assignments;
– 23% of Group net fees were generated in Asia Pacific, 41% in Continental Europe & RoW (CERoW) and 36% in the United Kingdom & Ireland;
– the temporary placement business represented 58% of net fees and the permanent placement business represented 42% of net fees;
– 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


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