While just one-third of women hold senior leadership positions in the global workforce, according to WEF figures, an increasing number of companies are leading the charge on gender parity in leadership.
Such companies are supporting women both in the workplace and outside of it, delivering not just in the advancement of female leaders, but on gender-specific issues such as pay equity, the provision of flexibility and choice, and fertility and menopause support.
Forbes’ latest list, in collaboration with Statista, ranks the World’s Top Companies for Women and is based on surveys of around 70,000 women working for multinational corporations across 37 countries.
While many of the companies ranked in the list hail from the US and Europe, with the top 10 featuring Estee lauder, SAP, Microsoft, Marriott International, Marks & Spencer, H&M and Clorox Company, among others – global companies with headquarters in Asia-Pacific have not gone unnoticed.
From Japan to Singapore, Malaysia to Australia, we look into the top 10 global companies with headquarters in Asia-Pacific and outline the offering that makes them great places for women to work both in the APAC region and internationally – from Singapore-headquartered Dyson to Tokyo-based Shiseido Group to Australia’s largest institutional bank ANZ.
CEO: James Dyson
Given that British manufacturer Dyson’s fastest-growing market is Asia, it was perhaps unsurprising to see the vacuum-cleaning pioneer make Singapore its global headquarters in 2019.
Helmed by British billionaire James Dyson, the high-end appliance maker began operations in the Lion City in 2007 and has since shifted its manufacturing from Britain to Malaysia, committed a substantial S$1.5 billion investment in Singapore, and is now building a factory there to manufacture next-generation batteries.
The Singapore HQ is a significant hub for Dyson’s engineering team and the centre of its sales and direct retail, finance, IT, advanced manufacturing, and supply chain operations globally.
Ranked 41st in Forbes’ World’s Top Companies for Women, Dyson stands out from the crowd with its proactivity in encouraging more women into STEM, into engineering and into leadership roles.
The company has increased the representation of women on its Executive Committee by 37.5% over the past year and in its most recent cohort of The Dyson Institute of Engineering and Technology, 41% identify as female, compared to a national average of 15.1% on engineering university courses.
HQ: Tokyo, Japan
CEO: Kinya Seto
Born in 2011 via a merger of five of Japan’s most successful building materials and housing companies, Lixil makes pioneering water and housing products with a brand portfolio that includes global brands such as Grohe and American Standard and Japanese brands like Exsior.
Headquartered in Tokyo, Lixil is present in more than 150 countries with 80 factories across 10 markets and has total revenue of US$11.0 billion, of which US$7.2 billion is from Japan.
Lixil is ranked 46th in Forbes’ World’s Top Companies for Women.
Recognising the challenges faced with the gender pay gap and low proportion of female managers, Lixil has taken strategic action since 2017 to achieve a higher proportion of women in the workforce.
Having already secured gender equity among new graduates in Japan, and grown female manager representation to 17.5%, the company aims to achieve 50/50 gender ratio for board and executive offices and 30% for female mangers by FY 2030.
As part of company-wide D&I activities, Lixl has embedded five global ERGs, including Better Together, focused on advocating and working towards gender equity; and Working Parents & Caregivers.
To facilitate further inclusion, this year has seen Lixil launch a dashboard for leaders with visualisations of KPIs such as inclusion score and percentage of female managers, designed to enable each department to clearly monitor the impact of their D&I initiatives.
The company is also focused on creating a workplace that makes it easier for employees with mental health support a key focus. They offer a Return-to-Work Programme and are developing measures to support women’s health. Based on the results of a recent employee survey, Lixil is setting up a special hotline for women’s health and has added menopausal issues to the reasons for using Self-Care leave.
CEO: Masahiko Uotani
Number of employees: 33,414
Opening its doors as a family business in Ginza, Tokyo, in 1872, Shiseido started out as Japan’s first western-style pharmacy and has since transformed into a global beauty giant currently operating in 120 countries and regions around the world with regional headquarters in Japan, China and across APAC, the Americas and EMEA.
Shiseido is ranked 120th in Forbes’ World’s Top Companies for Women.
More than 80% of Shiseido Group employees are women, and 58.1% of women across the global organisation are in leadership roles, with 37.6% in the Japanese operations. Not just that, but 40% of directors and auditors are women.
As Shiseido puts in: “We believe that empowering women can help generate innovation and in turn promote further growth at Shiseido and allow employees to fulfil their potential.”
This has been a belief of the company since the early 1990s, when, even before the introduction of childcare and family care laws, Shiseido implemented childcare leave and shortened working hour systems. Specifically, they opened two in-office childcare facilities for employees, as well as local businesses and residents. Further, to provide flexible childcare, in April 2023, they opened Kangaroom, a comprehensive childcare service offering mainly babysitting services, with the scope of services set to be extended to include elementary school students.
Among other initiatives, Shiseido runs a female leader development programme called Next Leadership Sessions for Women. In 2022, 63 female employees participated in the programme and in the six years since launch, 49% of the participants have suiccessfully been promoted.
To further increase the ratio of women in management positions to 50%, Shiseido expanded to three new programmes for candidates for next Group Managers, Department Heads and Executive Officers. Finally, the firm runs Speak Jam, a mentoring programme linking executive officers with female employees and between 2020 and 2022, 117 employees took part.
The company iso also working improve the working environment, including offering flextime with no core hours, remote work for Japan employees, and the Hybrid Work Style.
CEO: Liang Rubo
As operator of short video app TikTok and its Chinese version Douyin, ByteDance is a global incubator of platforms at the cutting-edge of commerce, content, entertainment and enterprise services. Founded in 2012 and headquartered in China, ByteDance has more than 110,000 employees based out of more than 200 cities across 30 countries and 15 R&D centres. While its apps operate in 150 markets and 35 languages.
ByteDance is ranked 144th in Forbes’ World’s Top Companies for Women.
At ByteDance, championing diversity and inclusion is one of the core company values, which it promotes through a variety of initiatives, including its Diversity & Inclusion Council. The tech giant also has a Talent Acquisition and Diversity Team, dedicated to sourcing, recruiting and maintaining a diverse workforce. Furthermore, the firm offers a range of D&I training programmes, from unconscious bias to cultural intelligence workshops.
The company provides flexible work hours and work-from-home options, allowing employees to better balance their work and personal lives, and in 2021, became one of the first tech companies in China to officially mandate shorter working hours, ordering employees to end their day by 7pm, having begun at 10am.
In 2017, ByteDance joined the UNESCO-founded EQUALS Partners, a network that has grown to more than 100 government, corporate and NGO partners with the aim to bridge the gender digital divide. The company has since launched several initiatives helping women from underprivileged area as well as unemployed women.
CEO: Shayne Elliott
One of the country’s big four banking groups, and the largest institutional bank in the country, Australia, and New Zealand Group Holdings (ANZ) provides banking and financial products and services to 8.5 million retail and business customers and operates across 32 markets.
With the most extensive banking network in the region, ANZ has a presence in 12 countries.
ANZ is ranked 166th in Forbes’ World’s Top Companies for Women.
As a listed company, ANZ publicly discloses its gender pay gap to WGEA annually.
In addressing gender balance, ANZ delivers various key initiatives and programmes. In recruitment, the bank ensures a female candidate is interviewed for every role, where possible, and that all interview panels comprise at least one woman. While its return to work programme is focused on removing barriers faced by highly skilled individuals, particularly women, when returning to a work after a career break.
All roles at ANZ can be worked flexibly, with teams working to a hybrid or blended models formed of 2 to 3 days in the office and employees are entitled to a childcare allowance to help address the availability of affordable childcare.
In supporting all employees, including women, the bank provides a confidential counselling service and mental health app.
In addition to delivering grass roots employee networks that focus on gender balance issues, the bank also partners various programmes that support gender balance, especially in leadership, including Diversity Council Australia and Women’s Empowerment Principles. In 2021, ANZ and Chief Executive Women launched a scholarship opportunity for women leaders working across environmental and corporate sustainability.
Group President and CEO: Dato' Khairussaleh Ramli
The largest financial services group in Malaysia, with a market cap of US$23.55 billion and 43,000 employees, Maybank has long championed inclusivity – and not just to limited to gender, race, age and ethnicity, but other aspects such as education, mindsets and wellbeing.
It’s among the reasons they attribute to their success, not just in Malaysia, but globally – and was named among the World’ Best Companies by Time Magazine in 2023.
Since prioritising gender equality in 2009, through a range of programmes and initiatives, Maybank has seen significant progress.
As well as increasing women in senior management positions from 11% in 2008 to 38% in 2018, the bank appointed the first woman Chairman on the country’s largest public listed main board company in 2017.
Female representation at Board level now stands at 30.8%, in-line with Malaysia’s mandate for increasing women’s participation in boards of the top 100 companies to 30% by 2020.
Women also now make up 56.1% of the bank’s workforce, nearly half (48.4%) of management, 41.1% of senior management, and 37% of top management.
Maybank was the first bank in Malaysia to offer extended maternity leave of up to 365 days for female employees, and in the five years since, has continued to roll out policies and initiatives that champion family values and work-life integration – supporting women to succeed.
Considered a change agent in the banking industry, and a main corporate sponsor for the 30% Club Malaysia – which promotes gender balance at board and senior management level – Maybank landed the prestigious Bloomberg accolade of Malaysia’s Best Bank for D&I in 2022.
CEO: Yang Yuanqing
With a global employee base of more than 71,500 workers, Lenovo is a US$62 billion revenue Fortune Global 500 company operating in more than 180 markets around the world. Focused on a bold vision to deliver smarter technology for, the company is known for developing world-changing technologies that power and empower millions of customers.
Lenovo Group is ranked 197th in Forbes’ World’s Top Companies for Women and for its efforts has been recognised in the Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index for four consecutive years.
Women make up 36% of the Lenovo’s global workforce, putting the Hong Kong-headquartered company ahead of the curve when it comes to female representation in the tech sector.
Lenovo’s efforts for gender inclusion unites its markets around the world, as does its global goal to reach 27% female executive representation by 2025, up from 21% in 2020. The employer is on a mission too to ensure that a third of all candidates presented to hiring managers are women
As well as the development of a strong leadership and talent pipeline, the company stands out for its firm anti-sexual harassment policies and building of an inclusive culture.
Among initiatives, Lenovo delivers a women leadership development programme that aims to help senior managers in the US move up to director level and recently launched a CARE model within the learning and development team focused on nurturing inclusive behaviours.
Lenovo’s WILL (Women in Lenovo Lead) employee resource group provides women and men with opportunities to engage and learn more about gender inclusion through more than 20 events, while its Girls Belong in Tech initiative seeks to inspire more girls to pursue careers in technology.
Operating as a holding company, and controlled by billionaire Jaime Zobel de Ayala and his family, Ayala is the Philippines’ oldest and one of the largest conglomerates with core businesses in real estate development, financial services, telecoms and water distribution.
Holder of numerous corporate governance and sustainability awards, the company is ranked 255th in Forbes’ World’s Top Companies for Women
Continuing its progressive stance on diversity, in 2021, Ayala made a bold commitment to increase numbers of women across business units.
There are now more women in the Ayala workforce than men, 57.4% women, while female representation in senior management now stands at 38%, and at 11% at executive level, as of 2022.
Promotion and career advancement at Ayala is made available to all employees
This year too, the Group welcomed its first female CEO. Anna Maria Margarita Dy is now President and CEO of the conglomerate’s real estate arm, Ayala Land, and was included recently in Forbes’ list of 20 outstanding female business leaders in Asia.
The company ensures a healthy female talent pipeline through various programmes and measures, and employees have access to training and courses via various sources, including the L&D Council-led Ayala University and the Leadership Acceleration Program for senior leaders, with access to courses from Coursera and Harvard Business School. Women slightly pipped men in training in 2022, with average training hours for female employees at 48.9, compared to 48.4 for men.
Business units across the group continue to support parents and family life by complying with the government-mandated parental leaves and in 2022, 91% of parents who took parental leave returned to work afterward – showing that the group prioritises flexible policies to support employee and their families.
The group is also big on mental health support, providing employees with access to resident psychologists, who offer consultations twice a month, a free mental health support line 24/7, and town hall and kapihan sessions providing a forum to discuss work0-related concerns.
CEO: Jason Chen
The world’s fifth-largest player in the PC market with a 6.4% share, Taiwanese multinational Lenovo has operations in over 40 countries.
Headquartered in Taipei, the Fortune Global 500 tech company is known for leveraging its diversity of more than 75,000 employees to serve customers in 180 markets.
With women accounting for 38% of the workforce, and 31st holding managerial roles, as of 2022, Acer is ranked 259th in Forbes’ World’s Top Companies for Women – as well as being named by Forbes as one of the World’s Best Employers for three consecutive years.
The company focuses on attracting female talent by offering competitive salaries, professional development opportunities and parental support.
Acer excels when it comes to supporting families and work-life balance. As well as offering employee maternity benefits, child scholarships and cooperative childcare facilities, the company provides nursing spaces in all offices (Acer HQ in Taipei has four fully-equipped nursing rooms) and has contracts with kindergartens near its offices – at Acer HQ, parents work upstairs in the building while children attend school below.
Women at Acer HQ are entitled to eight weeks of 100% paid maternity leave, exceeding industry norms, while additional family care leave is supported at various locations. In Singapore, employees have up to ix days of care leave for relatives, while in Australia, family care leave can be flexibly integrated into the workday.
Flexibility is also encouraged with regular employees adopting self-managed working hours. in Thailand, all full-time employees have flexible working hours, while in Japan and Hong Kong, employees can choose to start work between 6-10am and 8-10am, respectively, and can finish between 5-7pm.
Taiwan also offers a family care EAP, providing access to free consultations with counsellors by phone, face-to-face, or video, while the Acer Family app provides resources for support.
President and CEO: Paul Fang
Established in 1968, Midea is a publicly listed and, since July 2016, Fortune 500 company with robust business growth across multiple sectors.
As China’s largest home appliance maker, and with more than 166,000 employees, the US$51.39 billion Shenzhen-listed group has more than 100 offices and facilities worldwide.
Holder of numerous ‘best employer’ awards, Midea 281st in Forbes’ World’s Top Companies for Women.
With a mission to be “people-oriented, drive employee diversity, and promote fairness, openness and inclusiveness", Midea has built a comprehensive talent system with a focus on equal employment and rights, development and communication.
Midea has put in place a multi-tier talent system, including a mature leadership development programme to cultivate reserve talent for manager, director and general manager and also arranges special courses on women's leadership.
Transparency and open communication is key at Midea, with diversified employee communication channels to ensure employees voices are heard
Midea provides workers with comprehensive welfare programmes, and provides free-of-charge psychological counselling hotlines help employees solve their mental problems.
They also place emphasis on diversity when holding events for different employees. For different employees such as foreign employees, female employees and expats employees, the Group and the business divisions hold tailor-made activities.
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