Diversity and inclusion are becoming essential in war for talent Local and international companies in mainland China are turning to diversity and inclusion as a way of attracting and retaining staff. According to a conference organised by Community Business, a non-profit organisation that provides training and advice to companies on corporate social responsibility, the move was prompted by the fierce war for talent among companies in the region. Businesses were found to be either lacking an understanding of what diversity entailed or failing to see how being more inclusive could help attract and retain talent. Addressing problems like gender inequality or discrimination against people with disabilities were some of the issues that could be focused on to retain talent. Businesses were encouraged to take the different needs of their employees into account - a shift from the way companies traditionally did business in Asia. Changes included incorporating flexible working arrangements, reduced working hours, daycare programmes for employees with children, alternative leave options, attracting employees from diverse backgrounds, a system of meritocracy and a change of mindset, employee and family support, well-being, health and community. Tim Minges, general manager of the Asia-Pacific business unit of PepsiCo Asia, said: 'We are committed to leveraging diversity to create an environment where people can thrive and the business can grow through unprecedented collaboration and innovation. Success in our diversity and inclusion journey will ensure that we continue to lead the market with products that reflect the preferences and choices of our Asian consumers.' Gary Dirks, BP Group vice-president and president for Asia-Pacific said the challenge for multinationals lay in aligning global approaches with local culture and norms. 'Corporate leaders should reflect the local communities in which the business operates and this must be a business imperative as well as a social responsibility.' Another company that has recognised the need for diversity and inclusion to help harness talent is Cisco Services. It's vice-president of technical services Asia-Pacific, Karen McFadzen, said: 'It is important we create a workplace that embraces talent in Asia, fosters collaborative teams and helps our employees make powerful connections.' According to research findings by Community Business, the mainland's top recruitment problems stem from the lack of recognition for experience and qualifications, often reflected in undermined pay packages and training or advancement opportunities. Retaining staff is equally hard as competitive employees are often drawn away by better remunerations elsewhere, or they feel that the company is unable to foster career advancement. A lack of leadership skills among mainland bosses means many employees leave their companies because of their poor attitude and behaviour. Local and international corporations in China are all competing for staff within a finite talent pool. According to findings from research commissioned by several multinationals that are members of the Community Business and Global Diversity Network (a group of companies that encourage the effective implementation of diversity and inclusion in the workplace), Chinese employees are attracted to overseas work opportunities because of the salaries offered there. Increasingly, they want more recognition for their experience and qualifications in the form of salary and bonus packages, as well as training and development incentives. The difficulty for employers in China is in finding suitable employees, and then - due to fierce competition - keeping them. Companies are often willing to offer incentives such as inflated salaries that don't match actual abilities to lure employees away from other firms. China's ambitious talent pool is always on the lookout for bigger and better opportunities. They complain about the lack of career advancement incentives, and if a company cannot meet their demands within a specified time, they have no qualms about leaving. The lack of leadership skills, especially among line managers, is another major reason why employees look for greener pastures. Their lack of skills prevents them from creating a fair and inclusive corporate culture. 'We believe diverse talent and local business leaders would help us to access the invaluable insights into local histories, cultures and conditions, and therefore play an important role in delivering our commitment to build a mutual-advantage and constructive relationship with the host governments and local communities,' said Dr Dirks. Employees should also be aware of the need to find a work-life balance. The result is that employees will often leave a job because they are feeling too much pressure and cannot cope with work demands.