China tops list for executive gender equality

Updated: 2013-03-08 07:13

By Hu Yuanyuan and He Wei (China Daily)

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 China tops list for executive gender equality
China has the world's highest proportion of women in senior management positions, according to a new study that shows more than 51 percent of top posts are held by females - a huge jump from the survey's previous figure of 25 percent, and well above the global average of 21 percent.

According to the report, by international accounting firm Grant Thornton, women now hold 81 percent of human resources director positions in China, and 61 percent of chief financial officer roles, which its researchers said were roles which particularly require detail control and communications skills.

The survey, conducted among 200 businesses in China, also shows that women now take up 21 percent of board director positions, slightly above the global average of 19 percent.

A fourth of chief executive officers are now women, a huge rise from just 9 percent at this stage of 2012, according to the research.

Seventy-five percent of the businesses surveyed said they favored the introduction of quotas for the number of women on boards of directors in listed companies.

Globally, 24 percent of senior management roles are filled by women, up from 21 percent in 2012 and 20 percent in 2011, according to the survey.

The United States and the United Kingdom rank eighth and seventh bottom, respectively, of 44 economies. Japan reports the least proportion, at just 7 percent.

The debate on boardroom equality intensified in the European Union in September when plans were announced to force companies to have a minimum of 40 percent women non-executive directors by 2020.

The plan for a quota was subsequently scaled back to an "objective" after facing opposition from Britain and Germany.

The Grant Thornton survey shows that Chinese businesses would favor measures to improve gender ratios, particularly the number of women on boards.

"Currently, women still lack equal opportunities with men in various sectors.

"Businesses have to push women's career development more systematically rather than simply imposing a quota for the ratio," said Xu Hua, CEO of Grant Thornton China.

Another recent survey suggested that around 40 percent of female professionals were unsatisfied with their salary levels and annual rises, with 60 percent eyeing a change in job in the coming year as a result.

Career International Consulting, a recruiting and human resources firm, surveyed 1,700 Chinese employees aged 23 to 43 in February about their perceptions of professional development.

Women accounted for 45.5 percent of the partcipants.

While 44 percent of women respondents said they had expected their salaries to grow 20 percent or more last year, only 7.1 percent realized their ambitions.

An Ran, the research director of Career International, said women are more disappointed than men in terms of job prospects and income growth, but they generally take a more proactive approach when it comes to professional development.

About 45 percent of the women surveyed by Career International said they were looking for new opportunities, while 22.8 percent said they have simply chosen to work harder to get ahead.

Fan Yun, who chairs Shanghai Fushen State Assets Evaluation Co Ltd and is a national legislator in Beijing for the annual session of the top legislative body, said younger women should think twice before frequently changing jobs.

"Several careers per person sounds utterly implausible to me. Frequent job shifts will bar people from concentrating on their work, and such a habit is likely to reduce commitment to anything in the long run," she said.

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