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Asia still needs to work hard on workplace diversity


More women are in line manager roles in Asia but the broader diversity and inclusion (D&I) agenda needs greater support in many organisations, according to the 2018 Hays Diversity & Inclusion – Asia report.

The research is based on a survey of women and men working in a range of industries where Hays supports businesses. The survey was carried out in March and April this year with participants based in Mainland China, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and Malaysia.

A total of 58% of participants said they report to a male line manager. That’s an improvement on last year when 63% of respondents reported to a male line manager. Malaysia had the highest proportion of respondents reporting to a female line manager (46%) and Japan the lowest (28%).

However, the research found there was a perception amongst a significant proportion of participants that access to pay, jobs and career opportunities for those of equal ability could be hampered by factors such as age, disability, ethnicity, gender, family commitments, marital status, race, religion or sexuality.

“Actively supporting for diversity is having a greater impact on the quality of an employer’s brand amongst today’s employees and job hunters,” says Simon Lance, managing director of Hays Greater China.

Overall, less than a third of participants (32%) believe colleagues of equal ability have the same access to career opportunities in their organisation. Hong Kong had the highest proportion of respondents who do believe career opportunities are available equally (39%). Singapore had the largest number of respondents who believe access to career opportunity is not equal in their organisation (25%).

Equal pay was another thorny issue with only 30 per cent of respondents across all of our operating markets believing employees of equal ability are rewarded equally.Employers got the best assessment from participants in Mainland China where only 12% said pay and rewards were not awarded equally to those of the same ability. Participants in Singapore were again the most dissatisfied with 26% reporting equal pay for equal ability was not the case in their organisation.

Meanwhile, 63% of respondents believe their leaders are favourably biased towards employees who look, think and act as they do.

“The increasing complexity of most industries today means companies need a constant pipeline of new ideas and ways of doing things if they are to gain a competitive advantage. A diverse workforce is the key to ensuring a company can not only adapt to changing conditions but leverage that change to keep building on their success,” Lance says.

“Our research shows employers need to do more to check unconscious bias when recruiting and promoting. Equal pay also needs active support to ensure employees and candidates alike have confidence that hard work and strong performance are the keys to success – not being of the same gender or background as their manager.”

More than half of all respondents said they had experienced discrimination at some point in their career. Amongst our operating markets, the highest proportion of respondents who felt their chances of being accepted for a job had been impacted by a factor outside ability were in Singapore (62%), followed by Hong Kong (55%), Malaysia (50%) and Japan and Mainland China (both 49%).

Other findings include: • Improved company culture, leadership and greater innovation were the top three benefits of diversity identified by respondents. • Only 42% said their leaders are role models for diversity and inclusion • 47% said their organisation does not implement D&I targets/KPIs • More than a third (34%) of respondents said their organisation did not set D&I targets/KPIs for senior managers • Of those in organisations that do set D&I targets/KPIs for senior managers a modest 29% said these were always or often worked toward. • Another 19% said such targets existed but were only sometimes actively worked towards while 12% said such targets were rarely or never worked towards • Only 17% of respondents said their organisation always supports diversity events but 20% said such events were often supported.

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