Sunday, October 9, 2011

What Counts as "Diversity" in Asia?

Kitty Vorisek, Executive Vice President in DHR International’s Beijing office, specializes in Diversity and Corporate Responsibility. Recently she shared with me some of her insights about MNC diversity objectives in Asia.
What counts as “diversity” in Asia?
Companies view gender diversity as important because globally women control purchasing decisions for products. Companies are also focused on generational diversity to integrate and leverage across all employees. Older employees teach institutional knowledge and Generation Ys bring fresh perspectives, different communication styles and career expectations. Companies like Proctor and Gamble find diverse teams to spark innovation.
When there is a “war for talent,” how is it possible to specify female, highly-qualified individuals? Isn’t this one requirement too many?
In China there are actually more women managers than in other countries; 34% female senior managers compared to 20% in the rest of the world. To attract women, management adopts recruiting and retention tactics supportive of women. For example, flexible family healthcare benefits, flexible work schedules, mentors and coaches. Among women under 40, 69% are the first in their immediate family to graduate from university. Keeping in mind traditional Chinese values is critical, i.e. Chinese women executives travelling alone for business may not be comfortable or appropriate for the individual. Travelling with another woman is better and some MNCs recognize that.
How will employers seek to diversify their workforces in the future?
The next frontier will be expanding employees with (dis)abilities. The Asia Pacific region has 62% (400 million) of all disabled individuals in the world. In China the government obligates companies to have 1.8% disabled in their workforce. Some employers like American Express, some banks and phone companies historically have made efforts to staff their call centers with disabled workers. In some geographic areas, a company may receive government tax incentives for this initiative. The greatest benefit, however, is the resulting increase in productivity. Usually when a disabled person is in a team of able-bodied people, productivity may increase up to 25%. The able-bodied employees are inspired by the achievements of the employee with a (dis)ability.
Do you have any advice for employers trying to increase the diversity of their workforce in China?
Start with your entry level positions and focus your recruiting tactics to support female, cross generational and cross-country of origin hiring.  Male managers have a higher awareness of gender bias if they had a female boss. If they have, they are more likely to have a belief in fair play and see inequalities so they will coach both genders equally in the entry work force.

Compensation Benchmarking: Salary Growth in China
At a US-China Business Council meeting I attended last month, John Haley, CEO of Towers-Watson presented some startling numbers about salary growth in China since 2006. He kindly shared them.

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