Despite an increase in the number of women line managers in major employment markets across Asia, organizations have a lot of ground to cover in order to make their workforce truly diverse and inclusive. This and many other insightful findings are a part of the 2018 Hays Asia Diversity & Inclusion report.
More than 900 professionals from Mainland China, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and Malaysia were surveyed regarding how diverse and inclusive their organizations are.
Increasing women managers across Asia
58 percent of the respondents who participated in the survey reported directly to men line managers, a figure which has consistently been over 60 percent for the last two years.
While Malaysia recorded the highest number of employees reporting to a female line manager at 46 percent, Japan had the lowest at 28 percent.
For the survey participants, improved company culture, leadership and greater innovation are the top three benefits of diversity.
Access to equal opportunities
Less than one in three of the respondents believed that employees with equal talent have similar access to career opportunities, regardless of age, disability, ethnicity, gender, family status, marital status, race, religion or sexual orientation.
39 percent of the respondents from Hong Kong believed that career opportunities were available equally to all – the highest amongst all.
More than half of the respondents admitted to experiencing discrimination at some stage in their career. The highest was in Singapore at 62 percent, followed by Hong Kong at 55 percent, Malaysia at 50 percent, and Japan and Mainland China at 49 percent each.
About 63 percent of the respondents think that leaders prefer people who look, think, or behave like themselves.
Support for diversity and inclusion
42 percent of the respondents think that their current leaders are role models for diversity.
While nearly two-thirds of the respondents reported that their company has set individual diversity targets for senior and line managers, only 9 percent stated that the said targets are actively worked towards.
Just about 17 percent of all the respondents said that their organization always supports diversity events, whereas another 20 percent stated that such events are ‘often’ supported.
The more actively an organization supports diversity in the workplace, it is more likely to enhance the employer’s perception in the eyes of future employees and job seekers, said Simon Lance, Managing Director of Hays Greater China.
“Our research shows employers need to do more to check unconscious bias when recruiting and promoting,” Lance said. “Equal pay also needs active support to ensure employees and candidates alike have confidence that hard work and strong performance are the benchmarks for success.”
As a rule, organizations should strictly move away from the perception that employees need to be of the same gender or background as their managers, Lance added.
Even though organizations around the world prioritize to make their workforce more diverse and inclusive, the report shows that the there is still a long road ahead of us. In order to reap the benefits of a varied and inclusive workforce such as giving birth to an environment that motivates innovation and rewards creativity, employers are going to have to go beyond formulating D&I policies on paper and actually begin implementing them.
The fact that an overwhelming majority of the respondents felt that their professional career and progress could be adversely affected by factors like age, marital status, religion or sexual orientation is a worrying sign. While it is encouraging to see that the number of female line managers is growing, any sustainable action will have to be backed by a comprehensive people strategy that eliminates unconscious biases at each stage of the employee’s life-cycle.
Lance sums up the need for having a diverse workforce aptly, “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 a key to ensuring a company can not only adapt to changing conditions but leverage that change to keep building on their success.