Due to questionable attitudes and male dominated workplaces, women in Asia are struggling to secure senior positions in the workplace. Despite being qualified for the jobs available, there are hurdles in place that are preventing women from breaking the glass ceiling.
The global business advisory’s study, Women in Leadership in Asia Pacific, explored the attitudes of 143 senior executives across China, India, Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia, and Japan. The study found that women were not interested in flexible working hours, but were concerned at the lack of senior sponsors and roles models; creating a psychological barrier.
55% of the respondents said that seeing female mentors or sponsors was important, and would help inspire success. Many also commented that there seemed to be a lack of confidence in women (56%) and that many were excluded from power circles (44%). This ignorance has inhibited female members of staff from climbing the career ladder.
In general, the report unveiled that it was imperative to increase the presence of Asian women in powerful positions, to provide role models, and create an environment that is void of workplace stereotypes.
In some Asian countries, it is often the norm for women to take care of domestic duties – a stigma that does not fit in with the majority of Asian women’s thinking. Family responsibilities are the number one hurdle for female progression. Willis Towers Watson, who carried out the research, conducted focus groups within which women expressed a huge pressure put upon them to marry rather than focus on careers and goals.
Furthermore, the absence of empowering women seems to have magnified the issue at lower levels, with many women disheartened and demotivated when faced with only male figures at the top.
Naomi Denning, co-chair of Willis Towers Watson’s Asia Pacific inclusion and diversity council commented, ““The absence of women from senior leadership positions can have long-ranging implications in today’s dynamic work environment, including high female attrition rates and diminished female leadership pipelines.”
She continues, “Our findings clearly highlight the need for organisations to instil equality and diversity into their company culture at the highest levels — a key foundation for building strong and diverse female leadership pipelines in Asian firms.”
Diversity is simply not on the agenda for the majority of Asian companies compared to those in the West. However, employers in Asia are noticing that there are many global campaigns promoting women as leaders, which is sparking social change.
Director of The Economist Corporate Network in Shanghai, Mary Boyd, explained: “Not only does inclusion and diversity help with employee attitudes and engagement, but there is also a strong business case behind it. Research shows that better business decisions are made when they come from a diverse group of people with different experiences and perspectives.”
“By shifting mind-sets towards encouraging and supporting women in leadership positions as a part of business strategy, companies can improve results — including overall performance and operating profit.”