What you need to know before working in Thailand


  • A women’s perspective.

  •  Equality in the work place and business culture

If you are thinking about working in the International Relation field or any International Business as a Woman and you don’t know yet, which country to work in later maybe you should consider working in Thailand and will explain to why and what you need to know about the business culture in Thailand.

The Hierarchy System in Thai Companies

“You must recognize low and high- know your place in the hierarchy “

If you are from a western country, you might be used to having a relaxed relationship with your boss and feel like you are working together and are on a friendly basis with each other, it could also happen that employees stand up against their boss sometimes or do not so as much respect. In Thailand this would be unacceptable. The society in Thailand has a clear hierarchy, and it depends on various factors what is your societal score and where you rank in the hierarchy. The simplest hierarchy order to keep in mind is that elder people always above you and you must pay respect to them. But also, other factors like occupation, wealthy and your family name are defining your pace in society. And the people of Thailand know their place and know how and to who they must show respect.

So, what does this mean in the context of the Workplace. As well as in society, also in the workplace there is a clear hierarchy order. From the lowest position to the highest boss in the company, everyone Knows their place and how to behave. If you start working in the company, make sure you know who you are working with and who is above or below you and behave accordingly with respect.

Maybe co-workers that are on the same level with you, you would assume you have the same rank, but that co-worker is significantly older than you, has a better degree and a better social status than you, will be treated with different respect than you. Besides having arguments with your boss, in the western world that is acceptable. In Thailand although like mentioned before you should avoid conflict and since the boss is the highest position, you should not argue with him or her nor criticize them. The top management should be looked up to by the employees and not questioned.


Conflict Avoidance

Another important aspect to Know about the society and behaviour of this with each other, is that conflict avoidance is a big thing. The term “Jay yen” which means translated “cool heart” is one of the highest defining rules of behaviour. The meaning behind it is that Thai’s belief that there is no reason to get angry about something that you cannot change anyway. This is also part of the Thai culture of “saving face”. How you behave and show emotion is very important to keep your dignity and reputation. Therefore, showing negative feelings like anger or criticizing others is an embarrassment and would you “lose your face”. So, if you are some that is very expressive with emotions and get annoyed and angry fast if something is not going well then you should reconsider working in a Thai workplace.


It is a different system than in western countries, not necessarily any worse or better, also depending on own preference and upbringing if you can adapt to different environments. The hierarchy in Thailand will never change, you will be working “for” and not “with” your bosses. Nevertheless, the Thais genuinely respect their superior and are happy in their workplace. And maybe you would be too, since Thai people are mostly very happy and smiling people and it can be a great experience to work in Thailand.

Working in a Thai Team

A few things we have already learned but there are some other things that might help you in a future Thai workplace and to understand your colleagues. You need to understand the difference and understand that there might be frustrations in the differences. Thai people are very non-confrontational and try to maintain a good and relaxed atmosphere within the team. Furthermore, Thai people like to build relationship in business and not just keep it professional and sticking to business.

What if you have decided that the work culture is something that you enjoy in Thailand, there are other aspects to consider as a woman when working in different countries and business and of it is

Gender Equality.

As we know in many countries there is still a gender pay gap and Gender inequality. What does this mean? Basically, Men get paid higher wages as a woman, for the exact SAME Job. Besides that, also difference in opportunities for men and woman in terms of positions or the way they get treated in companies. Gender equality aims for both genders (any gender) to have the same rights, the same opportunities, the same wages or whatever it is, the gender should not be defining and bring a difference and Men should not be superior simple because of their gender.

How unfair is this that men just get paid more simply because he is a man?? This implicates still those men would somehow be more qualified than woman or able to a better job. But we all know that’s not necessarily true. Just look at the first female chancellor in Germany, she did a better job than any other Men before her and was great between all does Male leaders in the world.

Back to the topic, why this important for Thailand. First of all, In Thailand woman and men have equal rights in the workplace. In 1985 Thailand had ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and through law advanced the rights of Women. Besides that, in Thailand 32% of Senior Leadership Positions are held by Woman. Comparing this to global measure only 27% are woman and in Asia its 26%, according to the 2020 women in business report. That means Thailand is already better in giving opportunities and leading position to women, which is a good start.

Thailand also made other initiatives to further develop gender equality and women rights, such as the Gender Equality Act In 2015[1]  and the women Development strategy 2017-2021 [2].


“Inclusive Policy means Sustainable Growth”

Now to the newest Development concerning that topic.  Thailand has recently presented a new policy at the WeEmpower Asia Event in Bangkok. The roadmap present aims for business to have a guideline to implement policies to improve women empowerment in their Company. This is a milestone for woman in Asia and globally. It has the title “Women’s empowerment Principal: Thailand Policy. Three important aspects are written about in the policy. Firstly, that companies report on their gender indicators, that the companies promote corporate leadership for woman and to also advance and support business that are led or owned by women in a global and national scope.

Nevertheless, Thailand still ranked 75th place out of 153 countries in the Gender Gap Report, the reason for this is mostly the gap in the political empowerment. Not a lot of women are working in the government and are representing the country. Hopefully with the new initiatives this will change in the future as well.

For the future this can be a big advantage for you working in business in Thailand, having companies that implement policies for gender equality and women empowerment, helping you to make it in the work field and hopefully ending in a leadership position, whereby you are at the top of the hierarchy of the company and society.




Before Traveling to Asia, You Should Understand the Concept of Face. TripSavvy. (2022). Retrieved 20 March 2022, from https://www.tripsavvy.com/saving-face-and-losing-face-1458303.

Businesstimes.com.sg. (2022). Retrieved 25 March 2022, from https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/government-economy/why-thailands-women-are-so-successful-in-business.

Chau, C. (2022). Thailand plots roadmap to gender equality in business | HRM Asia. HRM Asia. Retrieved 19 March 2022, from https://hrmasia.com/thailand-plots-roadmap-to-gender-equality-in-business/.

Hays, J. (2022). THAI SOCIETY: HIERARCHY, STATUS, CLASS, HI-SO CULTURE AND THE PATRON-CLIENT SYSTEM | Facts and Details. Factsanddetails.com. Retrieved 25 March 2022, from https://factsanddetails.com/southeast-asia/Thailand/sub5_8c/entry-3228.html.

How Does Hierarchy Work in Thai Companies? – Tasty Thailand. Tastythailand.com. (2022). Retrieved 13 March 2022, from https://tastythailand.com/how-does-hierarchy-work-in-thai-companies/.

Limited, B. (2022). Addressing the gender pay gap. https://www.bangkokpost.com. Retrieved 11 March 2022, from https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1410782/addressing-the-gender-pay-gap.

Thailand embraces gender-equal business as key to sustainable growth. Thainews.prd.go.th.  (2022). Retrieved 16 March 2022, from https://thainews.prd.go.th/en/news/detail/TCATG220316225240665.

Women in Business 2020 Report: Thailand’s Private Sector Leads the Way, While Government Still Lags Behind Despite Minor Improvements. Grant Thornton Thailand. (2022). Retrieved 25 March 2022, from https://www.grantthornton.co.th/press-releases/press-release-2020/women-in-business-2020-report2/#:~:text=Bangkok%2C%205%20March%202020%20%E2%80%93%20Grant,region%20and%20the%20global%20average.


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