Chinese employers consider hiring coaches to develop female leaders

Author: Wang Fangqing | Date: 23 Nov 2016

“Gender equality is an important part of corporate social responsibility,” says chair of Shanghai Women’s Federation

Chinese employers are considering the benefits of hiring more female coaches to boost the productivity of their female staff.
 
Organisations in China have more female senior managers than in many other countries. According to recruitment agency Hays, about 38 per cent of senior managers in China are female, compared with 20 per cent in the USA and 16 per cent in Germany.
 
But research undertaken last year by the Shanghai Women’s Federation (SWF) showed the contribution of human capital from women in the city in the past three decades was 43.27 per cent, slightly lower than 51.44 per cent of their male counterparts.
 
To get more from female talent, the Shanghai city government is pushing all local employers to promote their most competent female staff to important positions.
 
“Gender equality is an important part of corporate social responsibility and we count on organisations to take the lead and give talented female staff the support and career opportunities they deserve,” said Xu Feng, SWF chair, at the 2016 Shanghai International Forum on Women’s Development, held in October.
 
And at a recent presentation in Shanghai hosted by executive coach consulting firm MindSpan, female Chinese directors of HR departments from multinationals heard discussions on the value of hiring female coaches.
 
Topics such as ‘is it better to hire a female coach to coach female executives?’, ‘how do we assess a coach’s value’, and ‘what is the right distance between a coach and their client?’ were discussed in earnest.
 
“I came here to learn more about executive coaching and see how it can help with the leaders in our company, especially female leaders,” said Shelly Shen, HR director at the China operation of Saint-Gobain PAM, the French-headquartered pipeline specialist.
 
Bettina Al-Sadik-Lowinski, an experienced Shanghai-based German coach who is currently freelancing in China, said that coaching in China has to be tailored for a Chinese audience. “Coaching a Chinese female executive is not that different from coaching, say, an American female executive. However, differences do exist,” she said.
 
“My advice is always be prepared, always be punctual, and use humour sometimes,” said Al-Sadik-Lowinski.
 
Meanwhile, with China now allowing families to have up to two children, many of Al-Sadik-Lowinski’s female clients are considering having another baby, which raises concerns over career development.
 
“Even with all the help from their parents and in-laws, these women are worried about pregnancy affecting future promotions. As far as I know, such concerns are not as much of a problem for male executives,” she said.