WHEN it comes to female representation in the corporate boardroom, Singapore still trails most key cities in Asia, says global recruitment firm Hays.

Announcing the survey finding in its 2015 salary guide - and ahead of International Women's Day this Sunday - Hays says only slightly more than one in four, or 27 per cent, of management positions here are filled by women. This is unchanged from a year ago and below the Asian 29 per cent average, according to Hays.

It found China to be still the region's gender diversity leader this year, with 36 per cent of management roles held by women, the same number as in 2014.

Malaysia has the next biggest share of women in management - 34 per cent, up from 29 per cent in 2015. Hong Kong ranks third with 31 per cent, down from 33 per cent.

Singapore is only ahead of Japan in the gender diversity stakes. Japan is still falling behind with women in the country filling just 19 per cent of management jobs, though the number is up from 15 per cent one year ago.

Hays says that while progress is being made, gender diversity remains a critical business issue.

"It seems remarkable in this day and age, given all the research espousing the benefits of a gender diverse workforce, that women are not equally represented in leadership positions and supported and encouraged to reach their career goals," says Christine Wright, managing director of Hays in Asia.

"Make it happen" is the International Women's Day 2015 theme, which calls for greater gender equality.

"To do that, there still needs to be more workplaces that embrace flexible working practices, highlight female role models, change organisational policy in support of gender diversity, and give better board backing for diversity issues," Ms Wright says.

The Hays survey covered 2,361 employers with over four million employees on their payrolls.

The survey found salary increases in Singapore and Hong Kong were "more moderate" in their review, compared with China and Malaysia.

China stood out, as it did last year, with half of the employers polled there giving a pay rise of 6-10 per cent, and a further 16 per cent giving a salary increase above that level.

Chinese bosses are also a bit more generous when looking ahead, with 20 per cent planning to offer pay jumps of over 10 per cent.

Almost a third of Malaysian employers handed out salary increases of 6-10 per cent in the review; another 10 per cent went beyond that.

In Singapore, only 8 per cent of the employers raised salaries by 6-10 per cent, and an even smaller 5 per cent gave higher pay rises. Most - 59 per cent - increased pay by 3-6 per cent.

Some 10 per cent of bosses here indicated they intend to increase pay by 6-10 per cent, while 54 per cent said they would give a pay rise of 3-6 per cent. In Hong Kong, 64 per cent of the employers increased salaries by 3-6 per cent in the review, and 13 per cent gave 6-10 per cent increases.

Japanese bosses were the least generous, with only one in five raising salaries by 3-6 per cent in the review. Most - 56 per cent - paid out less than 3 per cent.

The majority - 83 per cent - of employers in Asia continued to give staff benefits, with health perks the most popular. Interestingly, China is more restrained with benefits, though it is most generous with salary hikes.

Bonuses also remain popular, with 51 per cent of the employers across Asia handing out bonuses to more than half of their staff. In most cases, the bonuses were tied to performance.