The latest Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) report by leading recruitment experts Hays found that an overwhelming majority of working professionals across Asia considered a workplace culture that encouraged and rewarded diverse opinions as the most crucial element in retaining top talent. 

The findings of the 2019/2020 version of this annual report are based on survey responses from close to 2000 working professionals based in China, Hong Kong SAR, Japan, Singapore and Malaysia. 87 per cent of respondents were born in Asia, 54 per cent were female, and 39 per cent held managerial positions. The survey covered personal experiences of the respondents with D&I in their workplaces, as well as their perceptions of its practice within and impact on their organisations. 

Encouraging and rewarding diverse opinions top priority for employees
85 per cent of survey respondents believed that a ‘workplace culture that encourages respect for diversity of opinion’ was the most positive and impactful employer action to retain top talent. Additionally, 53 percent also voted ‘rewarding and internally communicating ideas and contributions from diverse employee groups’ as the most impactful action an organisation could take to further seek and support diversity of opinion. 63 per cent felt their organisations had such a workplace culture in place, which, while encouraging, leaves much room for improvement.

76 per cent of respondents also felt that supporting key D&I events such as multi-cultural religious observances, international women’s day etc was a key element in building an inclusive workplace culture, with 61 per cent saying their organisations already practiced this. 

Diversity in leadership yet to match employee expectations
The second most impactful practice for retaining top talent was ‘having a diverse leadership team’, voted by 79 per cent of respondents. However, only 57 percent of respondents felt their organisations already had this in place. 71 per cent said actively working to develop under-represented groups specifically into leadership groups would most impact talent retention, but only 38 per cent of organisations practiced this. These figures show significant gaps when it comes to encouraging diversity through leadership, compounded by 61 per cent of respondents saying their leaders were biased towards promoting people who think look or act like them. Similarly, 80 per cent said providing leaders with training to mitigate bias would be a positive step forward. 

Employees recommend more channels to share diverse opinions
Currently, the majority of employers (79 per cent) conduct employee feedback surveys as a safe channel to propose alternative viewpoints, which was also regarded by 49 per cent of respondents as a positive action. Organisations also regarded exit interviews (62 per cent) and F2F town hall meetings with mixed groups (47 per cent) as effective channels to encourage diverse opinions; while employees regarded the chance to comment on organisational culture during their review/appraisals (47 per cent) and collaborative roundtable employee forums and discussions (40 per cent) as important steps organisations can take to further foster diversity of opinion in the future. 

In Malaysia: Desire for proactive D&I conversations evident among employees
86 per cent of respondents in Malaysia believed building a positive workplace culture that encourages respect and regard for diversity of opinion has a positive effect on talent retention; but only 65 per cent said that their organisations already practiced this – the lowest number in Asia after Japan. 

In terms of leadership, 72 per cent said their leadership team was diverse, and 80 per cent considered a diverse leadership team to have a positive impact on the retention of more diverse talent. But when it comes to developing under-represented groups into leadership roles, 40 per cent disagreed that their companies did so, a rise from 30 per cent in 2018, with a further 27 per cent unsure of their organisation’s position. Looking to the future and for ways that companies can better support diversity of opinion, Malaysian respondents (47 per cent) were well above the Asia average (40 per cent) in thinking that collaborative roundtable employee forums and discussions are an important strategy.

Tom Osborne, Managing Director at Hays Malaysia commented, “As our knowledge of workplace D&I matures, employees are engaging on a level never seen before, evolving their comprehension of not just how their working lives can be enhanced, but how the organisation too can be improved. The results of our report show an increasing onus on business leaders to match employee expectations by encouraging and rewarding more diversity of opinion and driving change on an organisational level.” 

To learn more about the 2019/2020 Hays Asia Diversity & Inclusion report, please click here

Last updated on November 12th, 2019