Ernst & Young (E&Y) China has introduced new measures to
improve the opportunities and working conditions for its female
employees. The gender inclusiveness scheme aims to support gender
diversity in practices across Greater China and help professionals
of both sexes achieve personal and professional goals. A similar
programme has been run at the E&Y US firm for the past ten
E&Y China said it is launching the scheme in response to
realities that women face in the workplace, including the effect on
work attitudes as a result of China’s One Child policy, growing
urban wealth and labour market demands.
In China, women make up the majority of university students
graduating from accounting or related subjects, which means finding
the right work/life balance for women is becoming increasingly
important for firms in the region.
E&Y Greater China people leader Loletta Chow says the firm
recognises that women are playing a more significant role in the
development of business and the wider marketplace.
“We also recognise that women have different motivations from
men. Men tend to focus on their career and be more aggressive in
taking up higher positions,” she said. “However, when women reach a
certain age, they may face more demands from their families
including marrying, starting their own families, taking care of
their children and elderly parents. Recognising these needs, we
have policies in place to help our women achieve a successful
career as well as a personal life. We hope that we can help them to
achieve balance between career development and family needs.”
An annual Women’s Leadership Conference is to be held each year
as part of the gender inclusiveness programme in Greater China. The
first conference was held in Shanghai recently and attended by 140
senior executives. Among the participants were leading women
executives at E&Y drawn from across the business.
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Successful women leaders in the community were also invited to
share their experiences in developing their careers and overcoming
the challenges of being working mothers. The event was also
attended by high-level male executives.
Other gender equality measures launched by the firm include the
introduction of a Flexible Work Arrangements initiative, which
helps employees tailor their individual needs and personal
commitments with career goals.
“Flexible Work Arrangement is really about acknowledging that
people may have different priorities at various stages of their
lives and may need a flexible approach to work arrangements,” Chow
explained. “So we strive to create the right balance between what
works for our people and our clients.”
Rebecca Zhou, the first person working on a reduced work
schedule, said: “When I applied for the Flexible Work Arrangement,
I had extensive discussions with my team to explore what kind of
arrangement is suitable for me and the firm. The arrangement has to
meet my needs as well as the firm’s needs… It is not a ‘one size
fits all’ solution.”