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

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To coincide with today’s International Women’s Day (IWD) a new survey from Hays reveals that far fewer men than women believe that female employees face any gender-based inequality at work.

According to a survey of over 11,500 people globally from recruiting experts Hays, 28% of women in Malaysia believe they need to reach the most senior levels, MD or CEO, in order to feel successful in their careers. This compares to 17% in Japan, 14% in China, 12% in Singapore, 11% in the UK and Australia. The survey also found that there is a significant difference in female and male ambition for leadership roles.

Of the respondents in Malaysia:

• 79 per cent of men think there is equal pay between genders compared to 66 per cent of women.

• 87 per cent of men said the same career opportunities are open to equally capable colleagues regardless of gender compared to 59 per cent of women.

• 89 per cent of all respondents, both men and women, said the most senior person within their organisation is male and 59 per cent said that their line manager is also male.

• Female and male ambition for leadership roles differs vastly, with 68 per cent of women and 85 per cent of men aspiring to reach a top leadership position in their career.

• Yet almost the same amount, 42 per cent of women and 45 per cent of men, feel there is the opportunity in their current role to promote themselves and communicate their career ambitions.

• Meanwhile 58 per cent of all respondents said their organisation does not have formal gender diversity policies and practices in place.

• Respondents said the top 3 most effective measures to improve gender diversity would be flexible working practices (34 per cent), a gender diversity policy (30 per cent) and board backing around gender diversity issues (29 per cent).

“We have a lot to celebrate on International Women’s Day across Asia, but many would argue that progress towards workplace gender equality is hindered by the lack of people, more often than not men, who fail to see any problem,” says Christine Wright, Managing Director of Hays in Asia.

“Given that most people in senior leadership 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 to begin with.

“Although Malaysia leads from the front compared with many other countries in terms of female ambition for the most senior roles, there are still fewer women aspiring to a top leadership position in their career than men. Being able to promote your achievements is a key part of successful career development and reaching such roles. Employers should ensure opportunities are communicated to all and recognise and draw out the skills and ambitions of those around them.”

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 Malaysia Gender Diversity report will be published and available later this month.

Hays is located in Kuala Lumpur at Suite 4 & 5, Level 23, Menara 3, Petronas, Kuala Lumpur City Centre. Phone +60 3 2786 8600 or email

Hays, the world’s leading recruiting experts in qualified, professional and skilled people.

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For further information please contact Kerryn Celine, Senior Marketing Executive - South East Asia at Hays, on +61 2 8226 9844 or


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