Welcome to the fourth installment in the ongoing Local Diversity and Inclusion Spotlight series. In these blog posts, we’ll be exploring how various countries around the world address diversity and inclusion in their culture and workplace.
Our newest spotlight country? China, a country that celebrates its “Golden Week” and National Day in October.
Here are five things to know about diversity and inclusion in China.
Note: Information is excerpted from GlobeSmart Culture Guides.
There are no laws protecting LGBT individuals against discrimination.
China has no laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender identity, or sexual orientation. However, there are few reports of violence against the LGBT community and hate crimes committed against the LGBT community are rare.
While many women work and have made much progress toward equality, there still tends to be a wage gap and other areas of difference between men and women.
Since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, Chinese women have been a major part of the country’s economy. Today, the number of women graduating from Chinese universities equals, and sometimes surpasses, the number of their male counterparts.
In urban areas, almost all women work, at least part-time. Chinese women have also achieved parity, if not superiority, in terms of their numbers in professional and technical jobs.
While women have access to government and upper-level management positions, they still trail men in terms of their representation in these areas. Furthermore, there is still a wage gap, primarily in lower-skilled jobs. For occupations such as doctors, engineers, and professors, the wage gap disappears.
China’s one-child policy and the dramatic increase in material wealth since 1980 have contributed to a new generation of “little emperors” — the spoiled children of China’s growing middle class.
China’s one-child policy, implemented in 1980 and formally ended on January 1, 2016, has been remarkably successful in curbing China’s population growth rate. However, the Chinese have traditionally viewed the family as the center of their universe and children the greatest blessing of all. As a result, all of the doting that Chinese used to lavish on the children in their families — the larger, the better — has been focused on the single child in each family, contributing to a substantial generation gap.
Young workers in China today are often quite unrealistic with regard to how fast they will be promoted, what title they will acquire, and how much they will be paid. In part, this is because they have seen in their own childhoods a rapid increase in material wealth and have come to expect it as professionals. In addition, they are part of a labor market for white-collar talent in which demand far exceeds supply.
Consequently, this generation of young workers has made a habit of job-hopping and parlaying their most recent job into a new position with a grander title and a bigger pay package. Furthermore, friends and colleagues think nothing of directly comparing their current positions and compensation and those who feel they are not advancing as quickly as their peers feel tremendous pressure to look for a new job that will accelerate their advancement or risk losing face in their peer group.
China’s historical emphasis on education as a key determinant of social standing is still visible today, and the demand for graduates of top universities far exceeds the supply.
Hierarchy of schools. China’s historical emphasis on education as a key determinant of social standing is still very much in evidence today. Although the country’s educational policy guarantees every citizen an education through high school, many children in rural areas only complete — at most — an elementary education. There is also a distinct hierarchy among Chinese educational institutions: beginning with high schools, each city in China has a very clear understanding of which are the top-rated schools, the mid-rated schools, and the lower-rated schools.
As a result, a degree from a top university carries real clout, both from the standpoint of one’s personal reputation and status and from the standpoint of one’s job prospects.
Opportunities and costs of emphasis on education. For businesses, this emphasis on education and the hierarchy of schools within China creates both opportunities and costs. The chief opportunity is that graduates from the best schools are China’s elite, and they are likely to be extremely intelligent, gifted individuals. The chief problem today for most multinational companies is that such a small proportion of China’s population has the opportunity to attend a college or university at all. The result is that the demand for talented new graduates far exceeds supply.
Knowing the background behind China’s “generation gap” and utilizing the strengths of both groups is key to successful management in China today.
Foreign managers in China today face a daunting challenge in retaining a first-class workforce: the demographics of the labor market combined with the consequences of China’s one-child policy and the generation gap have created in China’s top young talent an extreme case of high expectations and a corresponding tendency to change jobs frequently.
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