10 August 2020 |

Workplace Gender Equality (WGE) in Southeast Asian Businesses


The report explores WGE by researching three focus areas; the impact of leadership training opportunities on promotional outcomes of men and women; the role of strong policy frameworks that prohibit discrimination in recruitment and promotion on women’s career outcomes; and the influences of any formal or informal cultural biases or gender stereotypes on decisions regarding promotion, recruitment and retention that businesses need to understand and incorporate in order to address any gender inequalities at work. The methodology to address these focus areas includes secondary analysis of Investing in Women’s qualitative and quantitative data on these businesses. 


Key Findings


  • With or without training, men are still promoted at a higher rate in comparison to women.
  • Enhancing equal training opportunities for men and women is only partially effective in reducing gender disparity in promotional outcomes.
  • This points towards existing informal biases that may be present in promotion processes or may be attributed to gender norms and other socio-economic barriers, such as differences in educational attainment or societal pressures.
  • In the Philippines, men start off at an advantaged position in comparison to women with no training. However, the impact of training is similar for both genders.
  • In Indonesia, there is a positive relationship between received training and promotion percentages for men. However, there is almost 0 impact of training on women’s promotion outcomes.
  • In Myanmar, men’s best fit is steeper than women. Promotion increases with training however, not as high as Philippines.
  • In Vietnam, men are at an advantaged position prior to training. Differences are minimised as women receive training.
  • Companies with stronger policy frameworks also identify as having a good employee gender balance across all management levels.
  • A consistent finding across all four countries was that married women, primary carers and mothers are found to be impacted negatively due to gender stereotypes that associate homecare responsibilities with women and thus reduce retention and limit their career progression outcomes in comparison with men.


This report was prepared by Hafsa Omar for Investing in Women as part of the Australian National Internships Program. Hafsa Omar has completed a master’s degree in Public Policy at the Australian National University.


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