Mainland China has the highest proportion of women executives and managers in the world, with 51% of top corporate positions occupied by women according to the latest Grant Thornton International Business Report.
China is the only country globally where more than half of senior management roles are occupied by women, and far ahead of even its closest rivals in Asia, the Philippines and Thailand, which have 37% and 36% women managers respectively. The EU has 25%, United States 20% and G7 21%. Japan and The United Arab Emirates are the lowest performers, with 7% and 11% respectively.
According to Amy Chiang, senior manager at Grant Thornton Hong Kong, China’s strong performance in gender diversity is mainly down to its continuing economic growth. Meanwhile developed nations are showing less gender diversity in senior management and boardrooms.
“The pioneer economies where economic growth is high are showing greater diversity in their senior management teams,” says Chiang. “[Mature economies] need to wake up to this gender disparity,” she says.
While mainland China showed such promising figures, the situation in Hong Kong is going in a different direction. The 2012 survey showed 33% of senior Hong Kong management positions taken by women but by 2013 this had fallen to 30%.
“Overall we have seen poorer results in the more developed countries, so Hong Kong is one of those. I think that is something that Hong Kong needs to work towards,” says Chiang. “The China result is very positive and we are hoping that will influence Hong Kong as well.”
In Hong Kong, as in UK, just 4% of CEOs are women, against 14% globally and 25% in mainland China. As Chiang points out, there is some promise for improvement in the city, with new Listing Rules requiring Hong Kong listed companies to introduce policies regarding the diversity of board members from September 2013. “While the new code provision does not explicitly require quotas for women on boards in Hong Kong, the new regulatory requirement is certainly a step in the right direction. We would also like to see more done to promote gender diversity in senior management positions and privately held businesses, as diversity is the key to growth and good corporate governance,” she says.
Asked if China’s star performance is somehow artificially inflated due to different reporting techniques or some unexpected data outliers, Chiang says this is not the case. The results, she says, are not surprising to her. “I have done a lot of work in China, and I have found they do have quite a balance across senior management men and women. [Companies] are very respectful to women in the workplace,” she says.