Number of Women in Management and Foreign Workers in Mainland China Increases

Published on 2018-03-06

A greater focus on gender diversity needs to be a goal for employers in Mainland China in 2018 after new research shows the number of women in management is increasing, albeit slowly according to recruiting experts Hays.

This is just one of the key findings from the 2018 Hays Asia Salary Guide which in its 11th year, highlights salary and recruiting trends based on responses from more than 3,000 employers across Mainland China, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia and Singapore.

Last year’s Salary Guide showed women held 35 per cent of management roles in Mainland China with the figure reported in the latest research at 37 per cent.

The 2018 Asia Salary Guide also shows a small increase in the number of organisations with a formal diversity policy in Mainland China – 51 per cent to 50 per cent. And of those companies with a dedicated diversity policy, ten per cent claim to adhere to it “well”, a two per cent increase from last year.

“We are seeing some gains in gender diversity in Mainland China in certain sectors, but we need more women rising up the ranks in business so there is a pipeline of talent to the top including board roles,” said Simon Lance, Managing Director of Hays in Greater China

“Our Guide shows organisations in Mainland China – and elsewhere in Asia - continue to struggle with the diversity issue – but if businesses are to manage ever increasing levels of complexity and challenge, they will need a diversity of thinking in their management ranks and gender diversity is a big part of that,” said Simon.

“Having a formal diversity policy appears part of the issue, yet even those that do have a formal policy fail to adhere to it a large part of the time.”

“Our research also shows an increase in the number of companies offering flexible work practices too (66 per cent in 2018 vs 60 per cent in 2017) at a time when more women, but also men say such options are a priority for them. Flexible work arrangements are an important way to retain talent who may also have family responsibilities no matter what their gender. The results in this regard are promising, but we fully hope the figure will increase further next year” said Simon.

More on gender diversity

Mainland China is towards the top of the pack compared to the five countries surveyed regarding women in management positions. Malaysia is the stand out country with women filling 38 per cent of management roles followed by Mainland China with 37 per cent. Singapore ranks third with 30 per cent of women in management roles. In Hong Kong the figure is just 29 per cent and in Japan, women fill only 22 per cent of management roles.

Of the employers surveyed in Mainland China, 51 per cent have a formal diversity policy – an increase from 50 per cent last year. Malaysia ranks first with 54 per cent of companies reporting they have a formal diversity policy in place compared to 53 per cent in Singapore, 52 per cent in Japan and 47 per cent in Hong Kong.

Of the companies in Mainland China that do have a formal diversity policy in place, 13 per cent admit they are struggling to adhere to it while a disappointing 35 per cent are unsure how well their organisation is managing adherence. Another 28 per cent claim to adhere to their policy ‘fairly well’ and 19 per cent ‘well’.

Flexible work practices

Of the employers surveyed in Mainland China, 66 per cent offer flexible work practices – an increase on last year’s 60 per cent.

In our 2018 research, Japan leads the pack with 70 per cent of employers offering flexible work options followed by Mainland China. Next is Singapore at 62 per cent followed by Hong Kong (57 per cent) and then Malaysia at 54 per cent.

Foreign employees

The 2018 Asia Salary Guide shows that foreigners comprise 13 per cent of the workforce in Asia. An increase of one per cent from last year. In Mainland China, it was found that ten per cent of the workforce in the country is foreign, a four per cent increase from last year.

In skill short areas, 60 per cent of companies in Mainland China would consider recruiting a qualified candidate from overseas but 40 per cent would not.

Singapore (19 per cent) still leads the pack when compared to other key Asian markets for the numbers of foreign workers employed. Only ten per cent of all employees in the organisations surveyed in Malaysia are foreign along with Mainland China. In Japan, the figure is 13 per cent and in Hong Kong, it’s 14 per cent.

When it comes to being willing to become an expat worker, Mainland China workers rank towards the bottom of the pack when compared to candidates in other countries. When asked if they were willing to relocate to another country to work, 61 per cent in Mainland China said ‘yes’.

Malaysia were the most willing with 71 per cent of respondents answering ‘yes’ while in Hong Kong that figure was 68 per cent, in Singapore 64 per cent and Japan 60 per cent.

Get your copy of the 2018 Hays Asia Salary Guide by visiting or by contacting your local Hays office.