From Sai Pradhan, Managing Director of Trufflepig Search Limited Hong Kong:

Ripa Rashid, Executive Vice President of the Center of Work-Life Policy was in Hong Kong last week, speaking at a luncheon organized by Asia Society.

I was pleased to see a presentation dedicated to talent retention in China and India and women in the workplace within Asia Society’s March repertoire. Ripa Rashid of the Center of Work-Life Policy recently co-authored an article for Harvard Business Review, ‘The Battle for Female Power in China and India,’ in context of multinational corporations looking to China and India for growth, and within those geographies, female talent, as an important factor. At Asia Society’s luncheon at the Foreign Correspondents Club, Ripa shared some of her key themes and findings from her research. Here are the highlights:

  • The percentage of women at tertiary education levels has increased 10% in the last decade in India and 23% in China. This is evidence of the increasingly highly qualified female talent pool in both countries.
  • 85% of women in India and 83% of women in China are eager to be promoted to the next level, compared to 52% in the U.S. With ambition levels at such a high, women seem poised for professional advancement.
  • Women are reported to show high levels of loyalty to their employers in both countries: 92% in India and 88% in China. I wondered if this meant their pay scales didn’t jump as much as they might. I asked Ripa after the luncheon, and she said that generally speaking, women had different consideration factors than their male counterparts in finding and staying with favourable employers. Factors such as the quality of their teams, their comfort level with company policies, and the fact that the longer they stayed with their employers, the more likely they were to avail of flexible schedules, outweighed the desire for salary bumps.
  • In contextualizing the female talent pool in China and India, Ripa described the various ‘pulls’ on women in these countries. 35% of Chinese women and 52% of Indian women face pressure to drop out after they have their first child. ‘Daughterly guilt’ weighs 88% of women down in China and 70% of women in India, while maternal guilt affects 86% and 62% respectively.
  • She then went on to describe some of the ‘push’ factors. Jobs are becoming more extreme, with longer hours for women in China and India. On average, Ripa shared, they are working between 10-18 additional hours per week compared to their workload three years ago. An astounding statistic indeed.  Prejudice in the workplace affects 55% of women in India (enough for them to consider quitting or pulling back from their jobs) and 48% of women in China. Safety, and practical and cultural barriers to international mobility (considered an important part of professional advancement), are other factors that ‘push’ women in these countries.
  • China’s one-child policy means that it will soon be faced with a graying population, whereas in India, the demographics weigh favourably toward the young but are faced with infrastructural challenges in the country.

Ripa shared a few models that some companies have employed to attract and sustain the best female talent, and help women deal with the various pulls and pushes of the work environment, such as Google India’s Women’s Engineering Award, Intel’s Women at Intel in China, and Cisco’s Extended Flex Program.

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