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Malaysia falls behind China in female diversity at the top


The number of women in management positions in Malaysia is just above the average found across Asia, but significantly behind the region’s diversity leader China, according to a survey of employers conducted by recruiting experts Hays in Malaysia.


The survey of 2,600 employers, conducted as part of the 2014 Hays Salary Guide, found that 36 per cent of management roles in China are held by women. This number compares favourably with the Asian average of 28 per cent, and the Malaysian figure of 29 per cent.


According to Hays, the results suggest that China has made remarkable progress in developing and promoting its female workforce into management positions.


China was followed by Hong Kong (33 per cent), Malaysia (29 per cent) and Singapore (27 per cent). Japan is falling behind in the diversity stakes, with women in Japan filling just 15 per cent of management positions. This is happening despite Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s commitment to tapping into Japan’s “most underutilised resource: Japanese women.”


These findings are supported by a report released by Grant Thornton in March 2013[1] which said that mainland Chinese women topped the world in terms of holding senior business management roles, not only beating Malaysia but also other advanced economies such as the United States and the UK.


A separate survey by MasterCard[2], also released in March last year, further supported the finding that mainland women were well represented in business, with 40.9 female business owners to every 100 male ones, higher than in Malaysia (18.1 female to every 100 male).


“Diversity is increasingly on CEOs agendas as it is seen as a way of improving attraction and retention of staff, better reflecting a company’s customer base and boosting productivity, innovation and financial results,” said Chris Mead, Regional Director of Hays in Malaysia & Singapore.


“Despite the compelling business case for diversity in the workforce the number of women participating in management is still relatively low compared to men. 


“We will continue to monitor this trend in future years and it will be interesting to watch how quickly organisations come around to developing female talent to expand their talent pool.”


These findings have been released to coincide with International Women's Day, celebrated each year on 8 March. The theme for 2014 calls for challenging the status quo for women's equality and vigilance inspiring positive change.


Below is Hays’ advice to employers who are looking to develop women into management roles:


  • Measure and report on the proportion of women in your workforce, including at senior levels.


  • Enable both women and men to balance their work and home lives by embracing flexible working at all levels and train managers to manage based on results, not hours at a desk.


  • Encourage an attitudinal change towards working flexibly, remotely or part-time: these different ways of working do not indicate a lack of commitment.


  • Create supportive networks and encourage mentoring opportunities for female managers.


  • Prepare future female leaders by providing management training and qualifications early in their careers.


  • Act on the evidence to ensure that women throughout your organisation are given the same opportunities as men to progress.


Get your copy of the 2014 Hays Salary Guide by visiting, contacting your local Hays office or downloading The Hays Salary Guide 2014 iPhone app from iTunes.



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