An interesting thing is happening right now in the world – according to the United Nations there are far more Men than Women on the planet. We know from our 8th grade social studies classes that this gender gap is especially prononouced in Asia, where there are roughly 100 Million more boys than girls. Yeah – that’s 100 Million – about 1/3 the population of the United States – in just more Men. Here in the United States, in fact in most western countries, we don’t really see or feel this because we actually have more females than males – primarily because the mortality rate for men is higher than women. Newsweek has a good article on this subject: Men Without Women – The Ominous Rise of Asia’s Bachelor Generation, from the article:
In China today, according to American Enterprise Institute demographer Nicholas Eberstadt, there are about 123 male children for every 100 females up to the age of 4, a far higher imbalance than 50 years ago, when the figure was 106. In Jiangxi, Guangdong, Hainan, and Anhui provinces, baby boys outnumber baby girls by 30 percent or more. This means that by the time today’s Chinese newborns reach adulthood, there will be a chronic shortage of potential spouses. According to the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, one in five young men will be brideless. Within the age group 20 to 39, there will be 22 million more men than women. Imagine 10 cities the size of Houston populated exclusively by young males.
The question left open by economists is what the consequences will be of such a large surplus of young men. History offers a disquieting answer. According to the German scholar Gunnar Heinsohn, European imperial expansion after 1500 was the result of a male “youth bulge.” Japan’s imperial expansion after 1914 was the result of a similar youth bulge, Heinsohn argues. During the Cold War, it was youth-bulge countries—Algeria, El Salvador, and Lebanon—that saw the worst civil wars and revolutions. Heinsohn has also linked the recent rise of Islamist extremism in countries like Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan to an Islamic youth bulge. Political scientists Valerie Hudson and Andrea den Boer warn that China and India could be the next countries to overdose on testosterone.
From a western perspective, clearly some concern to pause and see if we have learned from our past. China is a raging economic power, and growing daily – and oh by the way, it seems like they’ve filled their pipeline with young male workers for the next two decades at minimum to fuel this growth. I won’t even get into the productivity issue of not having women in their life to take their minds of work…(oh, can’t wait for the Girls of HR to get all worked up over that comment!)
Here is my question: What are the HR implications to this demographic shift?
Here’s what I think HR doesn’t need:
- Gender Sensitivity Training. (Don’t act like you didn’t think of that first off – but stop it – we aren’t talking about a couple of sophmoric boys doing dumb stuff. We are talking about 100s of Millions of males over females in the workforce. Cats and dogs living together – mass hysteria – Ghost Buster kind of stuff – sensitivity training is what your organization is looking for!)
- More focus on Diversity. (What!? Listen: We need focus on Diversity, but it has to be more than just color – Gender needs to become a major focus of your diversity program – yesterday!)
- More turning a Blind-eye to lack of Female Leadership. (Yes you do. Your organization is 60% female, and your top two level of leadership are 30% Female – and you are keeping it that way. Specific gender based leadership succession plans need to be a part of your strategy.)
Here’s what I think HR needs:
- A helmet – Holy crap – in an economy that isn’t stopping from going completely global, this will impact every company in the US and much of our policy making over the next 20-30 years. Get involved and understand what is being proposed “on your behalf” from a government standpoint.
- I think US companies can show our Asian counterparts – that we value the contributions of our female workforce and leaders, and we expect the same. I want to honor each others cultures – but “Gendercide” isn’t one we should stand by and be willing to let happen.
- Prepare our leadership for this – they aren’t concerned about this – they have Ops issues, and shrinking margins, etc. This will impact your business, and HR can help make sure your organizaiton is prepared.