Chinese E-Com Giant Alibaba’s Secret To Success Is A High No. Of Female Employees


A quick look at the numbers of women in some of Silicon Valley’s biggest tech companies (Google, Yahoo, Facebook, etc) show an average high of 30%. When it comes to minorities, the percentage is extremely low, and when it comes to women in positions of leadership, it is also nothing to write home about. While these world-renowned companies have pledged to make diversity a key component of company culture going forward, there is one major global tech giant that is leading the way: Alibaba.

Haven’t heard of them? Oh don’t worry, you will soon enough. Think of eBay, and multiply it by 1000. That’s Alibaba. It is considered the world’s biggest online e-commerce destination. They have hundreds of millions of user, vendors, and handles more business than any other online company. Alibaba does an average of 60 million transactions a day.

China is the world’s most populous country (over 2 billion people) and 80% of China’s online shopping market is dominated by Alibaba. In 2013 they had a total revenue of $295 billion in 2013, that was more than what eBay and Amazon made that year combined. Are you getting the picture?

It is ranked no. 4 in a list of the world’s largest tech companies, behind Apple (1) Google (2) and Microsoft (3). After going public on the US market in 2014, Alibaba threw down a serious gauntlet for all the other tech giants, which are mostly US-based.

The company was founded by Jack Ma and Peng Lei in 1999 in Jack’s apartment. Talk about a start-up dream story!

As part of their world dominance and growth strategy, Alibaba hosted its very first Global Conference for Women Entrepreneurs over 2 days in Hangzhou, China. Speaking at the event, Jack Ma revealed the secret to the company’s success: women.

While the majority of Silicon Valley’s giants are dominated by white men, Alibaba is leading the way on diversity, boasting a healthy 40% of female employees, and 35% of women in management positions (including its CFO). With the rate of growth Alibaba is experiencing, it’s exciting to see that women have been a significant part of that. Take note all other tech companies!

On their news site Alizila, the company recently posted an infographic giving more details about their female contingent:


They say they have helped millions of female entrepreneurs and that women are vital to the company’s day-to-day operations.

“The world is a better place because of women’s important creations and contributions. We know that women will lead us to a better and brighter future, and we are honored to host so many inspirational women as we work to empower the next generation of female leaders and entrepreneurs in China,” said Jack Ma in a statement ahead of the conference.

In attendance were over 500 women from all over the world, including Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington, actress and Honest Company founder Jessica Alba, Yahoo’s Chief Development Officer Jacqueline Reses, Barbara Woodward – British ambassador to China, and actress, singer and director Vicki Zhao.

Given that half of Alibaba’s customer base is female, it only makes sense to have an increasing number of female representation in management and amongst its employees.

“Without women, there would be no Alibaba. Women have been an integral part of Alibaba Group since its inception, and without them, we would not be where we are today,” Jack told reporters at the event. Out of the company’s 18 founders, 6 of them are women.


He event went as far as telling the Huffington Post that women were Alibaba’s not-so-hidden secret.

“I feel proud that more than 34% of senior management are women. They really make this company’s yin and yang balanced. Women balance the logic and the instinct. I would say this is the ‘secret sauce’ of the company.”

Jack believes that gender diversity brings in a diverse range of managerial strategies which has clearly helped his company reach the heights it has.

“Men think about themselves more; women think about other more. Women think about taking care of their parents, their children,” he said.

The presence of Jessica Alba may seem odd to some who only know her from her Hollywood career, but ever since having children with her husband Cash Warren, Jessica has added another major credit to her resume: businesswoman.


Her online business The Honest Company sells organic and toxin-free products for mothers and children, borne out of a desire to want to give her own children the best products without the harmful chemicals.

What Jessica and co-founder Christopher Gavigan are doing is clearly resonating with many other families who have made The Honest Company their go-to destination for baby products. In 2014 the company received some major investment money, putting the company’s worth at just over $1 billion!

“The reason why I went into business was really to create a safer and healthier world for my children and for all children. The rise of toxic chemicals in our everyday life has contributed to so many serious and chronic illnesses. I felt someone really needed to make better products that are safe, non-toxic, healthy, beautifully designed, affordable and easy to get,” she told the Huffington Post.

Despite having many people in the entertainment industry to choose a different path or put her name on a perfume like many other celebrities, Jessica was adamant about her business idea. This is the kind of entrepreneurship that Alibaba wants to support in women.

Take a look at the highlights of the conference below featuring Arianna Huffington, Jessica Alba, and many other badass female entrepreneurs sharing their advice with those in attendance about their secrets to success.

We all talk about people Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, as Mark Zuckerberg as tech revolutionaries for the way they changed the world with technology, and we predict that Jack Ma is going to become a household name not only for his revolutionary business acumen but for his leadership in bringing gender equality to an industry that has for so long been a boys club.

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