“Her World·Her Strength,” the 2018 China Women Leadership Forum, was held on Wednesday, March 6th in Beijing to celebrate the 2018 International Women’s Day. The forum was jointly organized by UN Women, Zhilian Zhaopin, and CCTV’s Survey on Chinese Lifestyle and Economy. With the theme ‘More Than This’ this event was aimed at encouraging working women to overcome traditional gender norms, challenge prejudices and stereotypes, and call on all circles of society to pay close attention to the advancement of gender equality.
Eight leading figures from different industries gathered together to give voice to working women and explore the process of advancing gender equality. They included UN Women China Country Program Manager Julie Broussard; Zhilian Zhaopin CEO Evan Guo; World Champion Deng Yaping; Professor of Performing Arts at the Central Academy of Drama, Liu Tianchi; Jing Dong Group Chief Human Resources Officer and General Counsel, and Director General of the Jing Dong Public Welfare Foundation, Long Yu; former Vice Mayor of Los Angeles and author of the bestsellers “Don’t get married before 30” and “Make the most of your 30s”, Joy Chen; Founder and CEO of the Kuai Kan Comics Corporation, Chen Anni; LeBox Capital Founder Yang Ning.
Zhilian Zhaopin CEO Evan Guo presented their “2018 Report on Women in the Workplace”. The report revealed that the wage gap between female and male employees has been reduced by 8% from last year. However, women’s overall income is still 22% lower than that of men; a disparity which is directly caused by inadequate representation of women in positions of leadership. According to the report, 67.1% of female respondents work as general employees, a ratio which is 14.8% higher than that of their male counterparts. By contrast, men are more represented in managerial positions, and 73.8% of respondents revealed that each executive position in their company is dominated (occupied) by a man. And 75.2% of respondents believe that the majority of people occupying managerial or more senior positions in their sector are men. The report found that the greatest obstacle to women gaining promotion is “missing career advancement opportunities due to marriage and childbearing.” Furthermore, the report found that women did not invest less time in their work due to marriage and childbearing, but rather added household and family responsibilities on top of their existing workload. In fact, married women contribute 22% more time to family and household matters than married men.
The eight speakers all gave suggestions to tackle the aforementioned challenges. UN Women China Country Program Manager Julie Broussard said: “there are multiple factors preventing women from fully giving play to their leadership skills, from social expectations generated by conservative gender roles, to the lack of equitable advancement opportunities, as well as discrimination in earnings and other types of prejudice in the workplace. Increasing women’s leadership bears great significance for global economic growth and sustainable development.”
Zhilian Zhaopin CEO Evan Guo spoke about diversity in the workplace, as well as the need to stimulate women’s productivity and creativity, adding: “we need to do more than this to achieve a breakdown in stereotypical roles.” According to LeBox Capital Founder Yang Ning, every entrepreneur must find her own strength and discover her core competency. Former Mayor of Los Angeles Joy Chen stressed the importance of understanding and respecting ourselves, adding that: “Developing empathy and learning how to say no is extremely important.” Kuai Kan Comics Corporation CEO Chen Anni shared her own entrepreneurial experience. She said that if we shed gender expectations when starting a business, we can get to places which may have initially seemed unreachable.
Professor of Performing Arts at the Central Academy of Drama Liu Tianchi added that “even as our physiological age advances, our artistic life can continue to thrive. Age should never be an obstacle: where there is life, the fight goes on.” Jing Dong Group Chief Human Resources Officer and General Counsel, and Director General of the Jing Dong Public Welfare Foundation, Long Yu emphasized that while there is neither a single definition nor a fixed model for success, it is important that we preserve our abilities to think independently and learn quickly. World Champion Deng Yaping also used her own experience to encourage women: “I want to try everything that life has to offer, even if I may encounter failure. But since I want to win, I must pass through each stage, push myself to the limit, and not fear the result.”
From left to right: Professor of Performing Arts at the Central Academy of Drama, Liu Tianchi; Jing Dong Group Chief Human Resources Officer and General Counsel, and Director General of the Jing Dong Public Welfare Foundation, Long Yu; Founder and CEO of the Kuai Kan Comics Corporation, Chen Anni; World Champion Deng Yaping; UN Women China Country Program Manager, Julie Broussard /Photo by UN Women
Julie Broussard, China Country Programme Manager of UN Women makes opening speech / Photo by UN Women