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Asian female senior executives restricted to regional roles in multinational firms

May 2017

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138 Asian senior female executives were polled by U.S. based consultancy firm Heidrick & Struggles, across Singapore, India, Hong Kong, Japan, and China between May and December 2016, and the results of that poll indicate that women in multinational corporations feel marginalized to regional roles.

54 percent of the women believe that the lack of global opportunities is due to their ethnic background, while 47 percent felt that gender played a role. As a result, a staggering 85 percent of the women surveyed are considering leaving their company within the next two years.

In trying to push past what Alain Deniau, a partner of Heidrick & Struggles describes as “the biggest glass ceiling,” 90 percent of the respondents indicated they were keen to take on global roles, but only 36 percent felt “somewhat confident they will get the opportunity.”

Heidrick & Struggles said the findings were a reminder that multinationals should “take notice of women leaders as an untapped resource for global roles.” Good opportunities for women to take on global responsibilities are increasing as more companies move their global headquarters to Asia. But this requires a shift in mentality for headquarters leaders and must align with the performance appraisal systems that indicate the path to global roles.

Only 4 percent of the female executives listed capabilities and skill sets as barriers to landing global roles, but nearly half responded that leaders at their headquarters do not pay enough attention to women who are developing their skills and rising through the ranks.

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