A significant number of women and men surveyed in Malaysia believe shared parental leave and more sharing of child rearing responsibilities would break down unconscious bias and improve gender diversity.

The Hays Asia Gender Diversity Report 2017, produced by recruiting experts Hays, found 32 per cent of the women taking part in the Hays research in Malaysia and 34 per cent of men believe ‘shared parental leave and more shared responsibility associated with child rearing’ would “very much” break down unconscious bias and improve gender diversity in local workplaces. Three per cent of women and two per cent of men in Malaysia expect there would be no positive impact while most other respondents expect some degree of improvement in the level of unconscious bias and gender diversity.
The Hays Asia Gender Diversity Report 2017 is based on a survey of women and men working in five major employment markets – China, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia and Singapore.

Of those taking part in Malaysia, approximately 57 per cent work for an organisation that offers parental leave to fathers. And of those, 50 per cent work for employers that offer equal amounts of leave to men and women. However, 31 per cent also work for companies that don’t offer leave to fathers. In Malaysia, husbands working in civil service will get five days leave if their spouse give birth starting next year; but in the private sector there are no specific provisions for this, and the paternity benefit depends on the employment terms and contract. However, some private companies are already leading the way: IKEA and CIMB Bank have both rolled out one month paid paternity leave for their Malaysian male employees, and Johnson & Johnson introduced enhanced parental leave benefits to 60 days. It was also found that a further 39 per cent of women and 38 per cent of men in Malaysia describe working flexibly arrangements as “very important” to them while more than a third of both genders describe it as “important”.

“The Hays Asia Gender Diversity Report 2017 research clearly makes the case for developing flexible working policies that benefit employees of both genders, but also employers,” says Tom Osborne, Regional Director of Hays Malaysia. “While it’s great to see so many men rating working flexibly options, for women it’s a must if they are to pursue both a meaningful career and manage their responsibilities as primary caregivers,” says Tom.

In the recently announced 2018 Budget in Malaysia, it revealed that pregnant women in the civil service can leave work an hour early when they’ve passed the fifth month of pregnancy.
“We were concerned to see that 12 per cent of female respondents in Malaysia and 11 per cent of male respondents fear accessing flexible work options would be ‘very much’ a career limiting move.” “Another 22 per cent of our female respondents and 21 per cent of male respondents in Malaysia expect some negative career impact to follow accessing flexible work options. “We know from working with candidates that flexible work options are a key consideration when weighing up job offers, so companies taking a progressive approach to working flexibility arrangements will benefit in being able to attract quality people.” “Having children and/or being able to care for older or ill family members should not derail a promising career for anyone but as women provide most care giving, employers need to remain especially vigilant in supporting female talent and their careers at different life stages,” says Tom.

Other key findings of the Asia Gender Diversity Report 2017 include:
• When asked the gender of the most senior person in their organisation, 73 per cent of respondents in Malaysia told us the person is male. This was the lowest figure in the region with Hong Kong highest at 89 per cent and Singapore coming second on 82 per cent. Further back was Japan at 80 per cent and China at 77 per cent.
• Men occupy 57 per cent of line manager roles in Malaysia. In other markets, men occupy 54 per cent of line manager roles in China, 61 per cent in Hong Kong, 65 per cent in Singapore and 76 per cent in Japan.
• 26 per cent of respondents in Malaysia believe them and their colleagues have the same career opportunities open to them regardless of gender.
• 12 per cent of female and 8 per cent of male respondents in Malaysia told Hays that gender barriers ‘’very much’’ exist in today’s workplace. A further 44 per cent of female respondents and 45 per cent of male respondents believe there are some barriers in place within their workplace.
• When it comes to pay, 17 per cent of female respondents and 22 per cent of male respondents in Malaysia do not believe people of equal ability are paid the same regardless of gender.
• 43 per cent of female respondents and 41 per cent of male respondents believe greater gender diversity significantly improves an organisation’s success. Across all markets, 47 per cent of women and 37 per cent of men share this view.
• A further 37 per cent of both females and males in Malaysia expect greater gender diversity to “somewhat” improve an organisation’s success.
• The highest proportion of respondents in Malaysia (34 per cent) regards ‘implementation of flexible working policies (such as working from home or adjusted start and finish times for working parents)’ as the most useful diversity and inclusion initiative.
• Another 29 per cent regards ‘implementation of flexible working policies for all staff’ as the most useful diversity and inclusion initiative.

Of the respondents that took part in this survey from across Asia, women comprised 55 per cent of our survey group and men 45 per cent. The majority of those taking part (40 per cent) were managers at the time of our survey. Another 19 per cent were employed in executive roles, 17 per cent were at director-level, 14 per cent “juniors” and two per cent graduates. At the other end of the scale, four per cent of respondents were in C-suite roles.

Source: Hays