A continued push for diversity is needed for high team morale

Updated: Dec 10, 2021

HIRING STRATEGY: Southeast Asia is home to around 650 million people and more than 800 different languages. Yet, for so long, many ethnically diverse individuals have faced barriers of entry into a wide range of workplaces.

The pandemic may be inspiring a turnaround of those circumstances, with remote work and increased flexibility becoming ever more common. This, coupled with an ideological shift towards accountability in the workplace, has seen many employers looking inwards and realising the benefits of employing a diverse workforce.


Vijay Eswaran, Executive Chairman of one of the Kuala Lumpur-based QI Group, sees only positives for businesses that actively recruit people from all walks of life. “I’ve learned that diversity in the workplace is an asset for both businesses and their employees, in its capacity to foster innovation, creativity, and empathy in ways that homogeneous environments seldom do,” he says.


LinkedIn’s The Future of Recruiting has the statistics to back up this claim. The report concluded that more data-driven analysis against diversity goals would increase accountability for diverse hires and drive further retention and engagement.


At present, most diversity and inclusion programmes in Asia focus on gender parity. However, many large and small to medium enterprises are now ensuring these policies are extrapolated to include other historically marginalised groups. Despite trends showing that employees in our region demand diversity in greater numbers than ever before, Southeast Asia still has a long way to go.


A 2018 Thomson Reuters Global Diversity & Inclusion Index found that companies based in Asia were far less open, inclusive, and diverse than other areas of the world. Of the 7,000 publicly listed organisations evaluated, only 15 of the world’s top 100 most diverse and inclusive organisations were based in our region. This finding is a concern given that employees, particularly women, are far more inclined to choose an employer that shares their views on diversity in the workplace and provides programs that encourage and cultivate an inclusive environment.


A survey of working Asian women conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) identified that 71% of female workers in the region (compared to 56% globally) wanted to work for a company whose views comported with their own. Furthermore, 66% wanted employers to disclose their diversity demographics publicly.


In a region struggling to keep up with the global average, it is evident that this trend is something that both companies and recruiters must assess when choosing skilled professionals. Supposing statistics from LinkedIn are anything to go by, recruiters should be mindful that posts on diversity and inclusion had a startling 125% higher engagement than posts on any other topic in the Asia-Pacific region. It is time for recruiters to stay ahead of the curve and actively assess who they are promoting for specific roles within the organisations they represent. A good marker for progress is how women are represented in both base-level and leadership roles.


Employers in Asia are facing a skills crunch that will likely affect long-term productivity. The competition for talent is fierce, and identifying female talent is seen as a way to recalibrate recruitment strategy. Although many parts of Asia have fallen behind in creating diverse workplaces, there is a wide range of local organisations bucking that trend. They are now actively looking to recruit more women, in some cases at rates higher than the global average.


PwC is one such company, with its offices in Singapore, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia and Thailand having higher percentages of female partners than many other parts of the world.


According to GMO Research, Covid-19 halted much of Asia’s forward motion in closing the gender divide in workplaces. Disproportionately more women lost their jobs in the retail, food and beverage, and informal sectors, it found. However, with the pandemic now waning and the world returning to a sense of normality, overall employment figures are bouncing back. Southeast Asian employers are on the lookout for qualified women to now fill the skills gaps.


A 2020 report by McKinsey and Company, entitled Diversity Wins, leaves no doubt how vital gender representation is in the workplace and how recruiters actively pursue female candidates. “The greater the representation, the higher the likelihood of outperformance” was one of its key conclusions. “Companies with more than 30% of women executives were more likely to outperform companies where this percentage ranged from between 10% and 30%. In turn, these companies were more likely to outperform those with even fewer women executives or none at all.”


This feature was extracted from Chief of Staff Asia's report on Recruitment and Hiring Strategy. For further coverage, and access to the full report, please see any of the below links:

Online and Upward: Hiring strategies for post-Covid talent markets (full report) December 2, 2021

Virtual hiring focus to continue: Chief of Staff research (news highlight) December 3, 2021

Remote working options now key to recruitment strategy (feature) December 6, 2021

HSBC's virtual recruitment push (case study) December 7, 2021

A continued push for diversity is needed for high team morale (feature) December 8, 2021

Southeast Asian countries lead in gender inclusion scores (infographic) December 9, 2021

Ramping up: The case for internal hiring strategies (feature) December 10, 2021

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