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British Chamber GBA Technology & Innovation Summit 2021


Niomi Cowling china, work life balance

Hamlyn Williams Head of Asia, Duncan Harrison, was invited to speak at the British Chamber GBA Technology & Innovation Summit 2021. Joining a panel of influential leaders within the Technology space in Asia they discussed the latest innovations within the industry, and the challenges facing the Tech sector.


As our Head of Asia, it was great to see Duncan Harrison sharing knowledge and expertise when it comes to talent attraction and the market trends impacting hiring. Duncan’s background in leading recruitment businesses across Asia, and experience within the Technology sector makes him an excellent addition to the panel. We are proud to see Duncan encouraging thought leadership to inspire our Technology teams in Asia, and also Hamlyn Williams globally.

Here are the highlights from Duncan’s panel discussion:

Q: What can the Tech Industry in China be doing to attract more female participation?  

Attracting women into the Tech industry in China is high on many companies’ agendas. Increasingly at Hamlyn Williams, we are having conversations about diversity, which reflects the global trends towards DE&I initiatives. The tech industry in China is extremely established in the global market in many ways, it is also behind in other ways. There are some simple things you can do to help create an environment that attracts female talent.

Firstly, I always recommend that tech companies make sure to have at least one female present on the interview panel, where this is not possible, I would suggest that tech companies try to avoid multiple rounds where they meet multiple people and it is all males.

Tech companies are often guilty of promoting 'bro culture', focusing company culture on a bar in the office for example, or the pool table. If you are serious about increasing female participation then we would recommend you also focus on balanced activities, and don’t ignore the more obvious perks for women such as maternity leave, flexible work hours, WFH options, and health insurance.

Identify your channels and complete an audit of your outbound marketing and attraction strategies. Are your job adverts gender bias? Does your marketing collateral attract the talent you want to hire?  If the emphasis is on nights out with drinks, nights out at sports stadiums, etc, then you need to balance this out to include female success stories, equal pay policies, feature working mums who have returned to work just as heavily.

Q: There is a culture in China promoted of ‘996’- Working 9am-9pm 6 days a week. This has always been celebrated but recently there has been push back and the younger generation is rebelling against this culture. Why do you think this push back happening now?

The previous generation in China benefited hugely from working very hard, hard work meant their basic needs such as food, clothes, housing, were being met. ‘996’ and a hustle culture resulted. Today though, benefits are not the same- the working population has had their basic needs met already and feels there is less chance now to make it to the top and get rich through hard work, like their previous generation. Without this sense of purpose of fighting for life's basic needs, more resistance to the relentless hustle of the Tech workplace has resulted. Where a culture of ‘996’ was celebrated and personalities that promoted this culture such as Jack Ma was famous just a few years ago, now they are denounced and ‘996’ culture is by far the biggest reason young professionals have for changing their job.

Duncan commented:

“It was great to discuss some of the most prominent changes and trends Hamlyn Williams is witnessing in the ever-changing Chinese Tech market at the British Chamber Tech GBA event last week. To be able to share advice on some of the most prominent talking points such as increasing female participation in the Tech workforce and growing resistance amongst many Tech employees to the 996 working culture was a real pleasure. Thank you, British Chamber Guangdong, once again for the invite and hosting a wonderful event.”

Hamlyn Williams CEO Brian Van Aken said:  

"This is an amazing event to be a part of, and you did a wonderful job, Duncan Harrison. Way to make the brand proud...and represent all of the wonderful associates we have in Shenzhen and Hong Kong!" 


Brilliant to see colleagues taking part in such significant events and a big thank you to all at the British Chamber for organizing.