APAC Water Cooler: Diving Into Diversity in the Workplace

April 25, 2021

LinkedIn Water Cooler Series

Each day, millions of professionals discuss issues that are important to them — in society or the workplace — on LinkedIn. And gender equality is no exception. Given that we marked International Women’s Day in March, we investigated how dialogue on gender diversity and inclusion played out on the platform for this edition of the Water Cooler series for APAC.

Before we dive into how people are choosing to challenge the status quo on LinkedIn, it’s worth reminding ourselves of where we stand on parity in our region today. 

In March, LinkedIn launched the annual Opportunity Index 2021 in Southeast Asia to shine a spotlight on the issues women face at work. The results were less than positive, pointing to widening inequality gaps across Asia Pacific, as the COVID-19 pandemic disproportionately affected women in the region. The study found that women face various barriers to opportunity — a lack of time, lack of required skills and lack of guidance from their network. In addition, one in three women in APAC feel that gender is a significant barrier to opportunity, especially in countries such as China and India. The survey also found that only 39% of an organization’s workforce is composed of women, and only 30% of senior roles are taken up by women. Nearly four in 10 women feel they get paid lower than men. And even though seven in 10 people believe gender equality is an important aspect for a fair society, there is a strong belief among nearly 40% that gender equality is impossible to achieve.

Against this context, it is particularly heartening to see LinkedIn members in APAC continue to champion for change in their conversations on the platform. For a start, there are more conversations on gender parity in March — a 38% increase in hashtags alone around International Women’s Day in 2021 vs. March 2020. And for companies that posted on diversity, they got much higher, on average 125% higher, engagement than the average company post. 

Our top 10 list of most engaging articles on the platform reveals an encouraging sentiment of inclusivity in the workplace across industries with many organizations boldly choosing to challenge the status quo across APAC. Here are some of the key shifts signaled through our top articles on IWD in March 2021 :

  • Stronger expectations around the role that organizations should play to help women realize their full potential. As the Cisco India MD of Digital Transformation Office Daisy Chittilapilly says in this article, “As organizations adopt new hybrid models of work…with increased flexibility around work and managing personal life, the hope is that more women can be brought into the formal workforce. And this improved ability to maintain continuous careers will also propel more women into leadership roles.

Greater recognition of the progress made by women who have cracked through the glass ceiling. This article focuses on the top 10 female financiers in Hong Kong; Amazon calls out the wonder women who have made a significant impact to their business; others celebrate the young women to watch in International affairs and the coolest women in the product ecosystem and in Tech in India.

  • On the other end of the spectrum, we see strong engagement around topics tied to women’s equality and the affect long term, sustainable change that society must consider. In this post, Cathy Ngo makes the argument for women having a say in the policies and practices that have a direct impact on their lives, stating, “As a society and in the workplace, we must ensure our gender inclusion policies and practices are made with those who can give voice to the lived experiences of all women,” she says. In other examples, the initiatives that XLRI India and Uber Bangladesh are taking with their broad-based interventions that create opportunities for all women in the country were received very positively. 

Top 10 articles shared on LinkedIn in APAC March 2021:

  1. XLRI sets up Centre for Gender Equality and Inclusive Leadership | Telegraph India
  2. International Women's Day 2021 theme: Choose to Challenge | International Women’s Day 
  3. Uber partners with Better Future for Women to onboard women drivers in Bangladesh | The Daily Star
  4. Top 10 alpha females of Hong Kong’s financial services industry | South China Morning Post
  5. On International Women’s Day, Inc42 Shines The Spotlight On The 50 Coolest Women In India’s Product Ecosystem | INC42
  6. Women ‘must be taken seriously’ | The Australian
  7. Meet the women who’ve made it to the top in tech industry | The Economic Times
  8. Speakers, organizers & attendees: How to make IWD events more diverse | Women’s Agenda
  9. Amazon's wonder women: The ones who drive the 'Prime' force | Amazon
  10. 2021 Young Women to Watch in International Affairs | Young Australians In International Affairs

Lessons for Marketers

Social issues, such as women’s equality which is top of mind  here in APAC, will remain critical for organizations to consider and work together to improve. Championing a diverse and more equitable workforce also sets up a culture of inclusion and collaboration, which will ultimately foster growth and drive business outcomes.

We also know that people want to work for companies that place value on diversity and inclusion; in APAC candidates place importance on inclusion while looking for their next opportunity. And, employers that posted more about diversity on LinkedIn received 26% more applications from women. (Source)  

But it’s not just about championing a diverse workforce and widening talent pool options. Organisations also need to help women overcome the barriers that hinder their march toward opportunity through programmes and policies in the workplace. This in turn, will positively impact an organization’s brand reputation and growth.

We would love to hear what you or your organization is doing to help women get closer to opportunities. Share your thoughts in the comments below. 

For more great Water Cooler content, check out this recent posts on the Future of Work from our colleagues in North America and EMEAL. And to keep pace with the latest thinking in marketing, subscribe to the LinkedIn Marketing Blog today.