This indicates that compensation growth is playing little part in reducing the wealth divide, the firm said. The nine markets are China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea and Thailand.
Indonesia saw the widest gap increase. Top management there earned around $US190,000 a year – 15.8 times that of professional-level staff who earned about US$12,000. This is higher than the 12 and 11.8 times differentials in 2015 and 2014, respectively.
Thailand ranked second, as top management there earned US$202,000 a year or 14.9 times that of US$13,600 for professional staff. This was higher than the 8.7 times figure in 2015.
"Income gap is something that both governments and institutions like the WEF [World Economic Forum] look to address to ensure that ordinary people on the street can tangibly benefit from economic growth to ensure sustainable globalisation," said Sambhav Rakyan, Data Services Practice Leader, Asia Pacific at Willis Towers Watson.
"For businesses, it's essential to have a strategy that addresses this issue. That includes having a clear career path and objectives for junior staff so they can feel confident about their future and understand their targets. It is especially important for listed companies if their business performance isn't good enough, because they can easily become targets of shareholder activists when bloated CEO pay packages fail to produce better outcomes."
Elsewhere, the salary divide in Mainland China rose from 9.7 times in 2015 to 10 times in 2016., Hong Kong's salary gap also rose from 6.2 to 7.5 times. The change in Singapore was minimal, rising from 6.3 to 6.5 times.
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The salary gap between top management and junior staff has widened across nine Asian economies in 2016, according to research by Willis Towers Watson.