New “Women in the Workplace: Asia” survey by Agoda shows generational divide in attitudes to workplace inclusivity

Transparent visibility of opportunities cited as most pressing action required to empower an inclusive work environment

Malaysia, 31 October 2023 –  Transparent visibility of opportunities, workplace flexibility and access to opportunities rank as the three most pressing actions companies need to take to empower a more gender inclusive workplace, according to the inaugural “Women in the Workplace: Asia” study conducted by Asia headquartered tech travel company Agoda. These criteria ranked above both pay parity and parental support in the study of 12,000 people conducted across 10 Asian markets.

Examining the data highlights bigger differences in opinion by age than by gender.  Although the transparent visibility of opportunities ranks number one overall, an analysis across age groups indicates a disparity between 18-24 year olds where only 38% cite it compared to 49% of those over 55. Priorities vary across genders, with non-binary respondents most likely to focus on social inclusion, professional inclusion and balanced representation within senior leadership than other genders as key priorities for empowerment.

Eliana Carmel, Chief People Officer at Agoda says the findings are telling for employers looking to retain quality talent in Asia. “Creating a culture where people feel socially and professionally respected is paramount, Fairness in opportunity – both the ability to see what opportunities are available and having access to the tools or training to reach them comes through loud and clear from this study. For organisations looking to employ top talent clear career paths, goals and clarity of what success looks like are ever more important.”

Three most pressing actions needed to empower gender inclusivity

1Transparent visibility of opportunities (42%)Transparent visibility of opportunities (43%)Transparent visibility of opportunities (42%)  Social inclusion (53%)Access to opportunities (40%)Transparent visibility of opportunities (42%)Transparent visibility of opportunities (49%)
2Workplace flexibility (39%)Access to opportunities (38%)Workplace flexibility (41%)Transparent visibility of opportunities (51%)Workplace flexibility  (38%)Workplace flexibility  (38%)Workplace flexibility (39%)
3Access to opportunities (38%)Workplace flexibility (37%)Accessibility of opportunities (38%)Professional inclusion (41%)Transparent visibility of opportunities (38%)Access to opportunities (38%)Pay parity (35%)

Glass ceiling still exists, and a quarter of respondents ‘quit’ due to gender discrimination

Almost half of those surveyed (46%) believe that a glass ceiling for women still exists in their market, with respondents from Vietnam (63%), Thailand (56%) and Taiwan (53%) more likely to agree and people in the Philippines least likely at (27%).  Upon further examination, the survey shows that a lesser proportion of males and non-binary respondents (41%) believe that the glass ceiling still exists, compared to females (52%). There are also differences in beliefs across age groups, with higher proportion of 18-24 (53%) believing the glass ceiling still exists compared to those over 42% of respondents over 45 years old.

The 18-24 year old age group was also more likely to have quit or known someone who has quit because of gender discrimination, with 35% of those aged 18-24 saying they have quit or know someone who has done so, compared to only 12% of those aged 55 and above.

Change is happening with developing markets more optimistic about improvements

Significantly better32%25%24%
Marginally better39%42%37%
No change21%26%25%
Marginally worse5%5%12%
Significantly worse3%3%2%

Nearly seven out of 10 respondents believe that the workplace environment for women has changed for the better in the past five years (marginally 41%, significantly 28%), with only 8% believing conditions have worsened. When scrutinizing these findings by gender, it becomes evident that 32% of men observe significant improvement, contrasting with 25% of women and 24% of non-binary respondents. 42% of women perceive marginal improvement, compared to 39% of men and 37% of non-binary respondents.

Changes in workplace environment for women over last 5 years

Taking a market-specific view, the data shows that Japan and South Korea are least likely to have seen improvements in the workplace environment for women with 57% and 40% of respondents respectively, perceiving either no change or worsening work environments. In contrast, significant improvements over the course of the last five years are perceived in the Philippines (44%), India (36%), Indonesia (36%), Vietnam (35%), and Thailand (28%).

“Improvements in the workplace environment that benefit women, actually also benefit the overall organization. While there may still be a glass ceiling, it’s not all bad news.  There is sentiment that things are improving across the region, and particularly in developing markets,” Eliana Carmel, Chief People Officer at Agoda says.  “With the study showing that 18-24 year olds are less likely to tolerate gender discrimination, real or perceived, organizations that will succeed have to create a culture and environments that not only promotes gender equity, but actively demonstrates it every day. Whether that is by ensuring that everyone has clarity around their role and opportunities, or by encouraging a speak up culture where everyone’s voice is valued, or simply levelling the playing field by offering flexible work practices that ensures no one group is disadvantaged.” 

Benefits of balanced representation

With two thirds (66%) of respondents across markets claiming that balanced representation of gender is important to them, especially among aged 18-24 (71%), building gender diversity in leadership teams has become even more critical for organizations.  According to Agoda’s survey findings, the top benefits of balanced representation are: it creates an inclusive work environment (70%), helps with attracting and retaining talent (63%) and improves business results (45%). Eliana Carmel, Chief People Officer at Agoda said, “Agoda’s ‘Women in the Workplace: Asia’ Study” sheds light on a generational shift in attitudes towards workplace inclusivity. Understanding and embracing generational differences in the workforce is not just a strategic advantage; it’s the key to unlocking innovation, fostering collaboration, and building a workplace that thrives on diverse perspectives.  The study emphasizes the critical role of building diverse leadership teams, particularly in terms of gender representation, in fostering inclusive environments, attracting talent, and driving business success. This study serves as a significant resource for understanding and advancing workplace inclusivity in the dynamic Asian landscape.”

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