Women in the workplace: Asia is just the worst

  • Failure to build talent pipelines threatens women’s workplace progress
  • Mercer global report shows Europe and North America also struggling
Women in the workplace: Asia is just the worst

WOMEN are under-represented in the workforce globally, and if organisations maintain the current rate of progress, female representation will reach only 40% globally in the professional and managerial ranks in 2025, according to Mercer’s second annual When Women Thrive global report.
According to the report, women make up 40% of the average company’s workforce. Globally, they represent 33% of managers, 26% of senior managers, and 20% of executives.
In terms of regional rankings, Latin America is projected to increase women’s representation from 36% in 2015 to 49% in 2025; followed by Australia and New Zealand moving from 35% to 40%; Canada and the United States improving by just 1% from 39% to 40%; Europe remaining flat at 37% in 2015 and 2025; and Asia ranking last at 28%, up from just 25% in 2015.

Women in the workplace: Asia is just the worst

Among the key trends revealed in the report is that women’s representation within organisations actually declines as career levels rise – from support staff through the executive level.

Women in the workplace: Asia is just the worst 

“The traditional methods of advancing women aren’t moving the needle, and under-representation of women around the world has become an economic and social travesty,” said Pat Milligan, Mercer’s global leader of When Women Thrive.
“While leaders have been focusing on women at the top, they’re largely ignoring the female talent pipelines so critical to maintaining progress.
“This is a call-to-action – every organisation has a choice to stay with the status quo or drive their growth, communities and economies through the power of women,” she added.

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Mercer’s report finds that although women are 1.5 times more likely than men to be hired at the executive level, they are also leaving organisations from the highest rank at 1.3 times the rate of men, undermining gains at the top.
“In 10 years, organisations won’t even be close to gender equality in most regions of the world,” said Milligan.
“If CEOs (chief executive officers) want to drive their growth tomorrow through diversity, they need to take action today,” she added.
The research – featuring input from nearly 600 organisations around the world, employing 3.2 million people, including 1.3 million women – identifies a host of key drivers known to improve diversity and inclusion (D&I) efforts.
“It’s not enough to create a band-aid programme,” said Brian Levine, Mercer’s innovation leader, Global Workforce Analytics.
“Most companies aren’t focused on the complete talent pipeline nor are they focused on the supporting practices and cultural change critical to ensure that women will be successful in their organisations,” he added.

READ ALSO: Asia Pacific SMBs falling behind employee expectations: Microsoft study
Only 9% of organisations surveyed globally offer women-focused retirement and savings programmes, with the US/Canada ranking first (14%), despite Mercer’s research proving that such efforts lead to greater representation of women.

Women in the workplace: Asia is just the worst

Other key findings of the survey include:

  • Only 57% of organisations claim senior leaders are engaged in diversity and inclusion initiatives with US/ Canada ranking No 1; while Latin America ranks No 1 for engagement of middle managers with 51% vs 39% globally.
  • Involvement of men has actually dropped since the first report in 2014, when 49% of organisations said they are engaged in D&I efforts vs 38% in 2015. US/ Canada ranks No 1 for involvement of men at 43%.
  • Only 29% of organisations review performance ratings by gender, with Australia/ New Zealand ranking first.
  • US/ Canada lead on pay equity, with 40% of organisations offering formal pay equity remediation processes, compared to 34% globally, 25% in Asia, and 28% in Europe. But virtually no improvements have been made since 2014.
  • 28% of women hold P&L (profit and loss) roles with Latin America ranking first (47%), followed by Asia (27%), Australia/ New Zealand (25%), US/ Canada (22%), and Europe (17%).
  • US/ Canada ranks No 1 in providing training to support employees through parental leave as well offering customised retirement and savings programmes by gender.
  • About half of organisations in three key regions – Asia, US/ Canada and Latin America – agree that supporting women’s health is important to attract and retain women, yet only 22% conduct analyses to identify gender-specific health needs in the workforce.
  • Women are perceived to have unique skills needed in today’s market including flexibility and adaptability (39% vs. 20% who say men have those strengths); inclusive team management (43% vs. 20%); and emotional intelligence (24% vs. 5%).
Women in the workplace: Asia is just the worst

The report also asked organisations about access to and usage of key benefit programmes, including part-time schedules, maternity leave, paternity leave, child care, elder care, mentorship and more.
To access the report summary, go here.
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