Women in business and management

Women's labour market participation key for economic and business growth in Asia-Pacific says new report

Ways of maximising the use of female talent in the Asia Pacific workforce were examined at an international conference in Singapore on 3 July 2015.

Press release | BANGKOK | 03 July 2015
BANGKOK (ILO News) – The one day conference, “Women in business and management: Gaining momentum in Asia and the Pacific” will bring together top academics, international experts, business leaders, and employers’ organization representatives from throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

During the conference a new report will be launched, “Fostering female talent in the workforce: women in business and management”, which shows that across the Asia-Pacific region women remain an underused pool of talent, at a time when talent and skill shortages are restricting business growth.

Using some of the latest statistics, combined with material from a global report published earlier this year, the report exposes the worrying lack of women in top management positions and suggests key actions for business and employers’ organizations in advocating for gender equality and women’s equal opportunity employment in the workplace.

The report found that the top five barriers to women’s leadership are; insufficient general or line management experience, women having more family responsibilities than men, societal roles assigned to women and men, the lack of role models for women, and the masculine corporate culture.

Gender pay gaps also persist, ranging from four per cent in Malaysia and Thailand to 33 per cent in India, closely followed by the Republic of Korea with 32 per cent. While differences in education attainment, qualifications, work experience, occupational category, and hours worked account for the parts of the gaps, there is an unexplained component that is attributed to discrimination – conscious or unconscious.

“The report shows that while the glass ceiling may be cracked, it’s still far from broken and to sustain growth, particularly in Asia and the Pacific, this needs to change. It’s clear that diversity really does matter,” said International Labour Organization’s (ILO) Bureau for Employers’ Activities’ (ACT/EMP) Director, Deborah France-Massin. “Without women, the global economy and your company will not grow.” Women are increasingly joining the ranks of entrepreneurs. In the Asia-Pacific region women represent 26 per cent of employers and 32 per cent of all self-employed. Overall, the labour force participation rates for women remain below that of men.

The conference is part of the effort to forge new ways forward and speed up progress. It is being organized by the Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF) and ILO ACT/EMP. The report has been compiled by the ILO ACT/EMP.

Companies already report talent and skills shortages as a challenge, and as the Asia-Pacific region prepares for greater economic growth this will only be exacerbated, the Report says.. Yet, as half the talent pool, women remain overlooked and underutilised particularly when it comes to promotion to higher-level decision-making positions. The ILO survey of companies in the region found that in around 55 per cent, women represented 10 per cent or less of senior managers, and some had no women at all at senior management level. At board level, of the Asia-Pacific respondents, 26 per cent had all male boards while 65 per cent had less than 30 per cent women. Against this, in 13 of the 30 countries for which data was available, women made up the majority of tertiary graduates and students.

Tomoko Nishimoto, ILO Assistant Director-General and Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific states “Thousands of meetings and millions of words on the issue, I think we can safely say that women have waited long enough. The next 20 years cannot be more of the same. And it won’t be. Momentum is building, economically, politically and socially to break down the barriers to gender equality and provide opportunities for women to take on key decision-making positions and further their businesses.”

For further information please contact:

Jae-Hee Chang
Regional Project Coordinator, Bureau for Employers’ Activities
Tel.: +66 2 288 1708

Sophy Fisher
Senior Communication Officer, ILO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific
Tel.: +66 89 895 0912

Or visit the ILO Conference website and the Singapore National Employers Federation (SNF) Conference website

Follow the conference on Twitter: #wominbiz