Gender equality in corporate Southeast Asia

A new report from The Economist Intelligence Unit argues although significant advancement has been made in improving gender equality in the workplace in Southeast Asia, that women are still under-represented in senior management. 

The report, ‘Mind the gaps: Perception of gender equality in Southeast Asia is based on a survey of 300 female executives conducted by the Unit in December last year. There were 100 respondents each from Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia. Half of these respondents work in middle management positions, 32% in senior management positions, 32% in senior management and 18% at a Managing Director/General Manager or C-suite level.

A couple of key findings:

There’s plenty of room for more women at the top

There is a clear gender imbalance at the senior executive level among the Southeast Asian companies surveyed. Only one-third of senior executives in the organisations is women. Singaporeans feel gender bias more strongly, with 56% of respondents saying women are underrepresented, compared to just 44% of women in both Malaysia and Indonesia. 

Women may be deceiving themselves about pay equality

The 2014 Asian Development Bank report shows that Indonesian women are paid 38% less than men. The average Malaysian gender gap is 19% for women in management and 21% for professionals in a 2014 National Salary and Wages Report. And in Singapore, women in management or administrative positions are paid 16% less than their male counterparts, according to the Singaporean government’s 2014 Labour Force Report. The EIU survey results showed that women think they are not personally subject to pay inequality compared to their male colleagues. Almost half of all senior women estimate their personal pay to be equal to that of their male colleagues at similar levels and an even more surprising 41% believe it is higher. The difference in gender gap pay in Southeast Asia and the perceived gender pay gap may be due, the report points, to a lack of knowledge about colleague’s pay, as well as the larger number of family businesses found in the region.

Access the full report: Mind the Gaps: Perceptions of gender equality in corporate Southeast Asia, A report from The Economist Intelligence Unit, 2016




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