In Fidelity International's inaugural report on gender diversity in corporate China, we examine the status quo and offer suggestions on how companies and investors can do better. This includes a proprietary analysis of the FTSE China A50 Index of the largest firms listed in Shanghai and Shenzhen, which seeks to both plot the current gender diversity landscape and identify paths to greater female representation.

Late Chinese leader Mao Zedong famously proclaimed that women “hold up half the sky”, but such equality has yet to materialise in corporate China. The country’s steps towards greater gender diversity have lagged its remarkable economic growth of recent decades, and women today remain on the periphery of company boards and top managements.

However, there are signs of progress, as reflected in recently improving gender ratios. Moreover, a new generation of female executives is rising slowly through corporate ranks, while gender equality in education is improving and public acceptance of female leadership is growing.

As in most parts of Asia, public awareness in China over the importance of gender diversity has generally lagged the West - although China in many respects still fares better than neighbours like Japan, South Korea and Indonesia. Our inaugural report on gender diversity in corporate China finds a slow but steady rise in gender inclusivity at listed Chinese firms, with the improvements more notable as younger generations including Millennials and Generation Z rise through the ranks.

The report consists of three main sections:

1) an overview of where China stands on gender diversity and what actions policymakers are taking;
2) a closer look at gender policies and practices among the country's largest listed firms;
3) practical recommendations for both companies and investors on how to boost gender diversity.

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