Tencent Holdings, which turned 20 on Sunday, will ensure that at least one in five promotions each year go to younger talent in a bid to refresh its managerial ranks and maintain dynamism within the social media-to-gaming giant.
The 20 per cent quota will be compulsory and managers will be assessed on their ability to discover and groom young talent, Tencent president Martin Lau Chi-ping said on Friday at a town hall meeting with employees, a company tradition that forms part of its anniversary celebrations.
“To stay young, a company must keep its metabolism strong, which means continuous movement among employees,” Lau said, according to company post on its official WeChat account.
To ensure there is mobility, a certain percentage of managers will be moved down to make room for “rising stars” each year, he said, without elaborating on what is considered “young”.
While companies globally have used quotas as a way to ensure diversity in hiring or representation on boards, the practice of reserving promotions for young employees is relatively rare in China, where seniority-based employment practices are still prevalent, though less so in the tech industry where younger employees often have an edge over their older peers in embracing the newest technologies and trends.
Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi said in September that the firm would undergo an internal restructuring to strengthen its different functions and help develop younger talent.
Tencent should focus on “things we can do but others cannot” when it comes to the integration of the consumer and industrial internet, Pony Ma, co-founder and chief executive of Tencent, said at the meeting last week.
The Shenzhen-based company’s WeChat social platform, for example, can be a tool for industries through the use of its mini-programs, or stripped-down apps that can run on the main app instantly without the need for separate downloads.
Ma stressed the importance of protecting user data during the integration, pointing out that social media platforms are “closely related to privacy and it’s more important to protect the data than to connect and exchange them”.
Tencent, started in Shenzhen as a scrappy little messaging outfit by a group of mostly Shenzhen University alumni, has become one of China’s most celebrated companies, the first Asian company to breach US$500 billion in market cap, though the recent global sell-off has cut that valuation by almost half.
“The initial dream for Tencent was to survive, and to have more people use our app,” co-founder and former chief technology officer Tony Zhang Zhidong said on Friday at the meeting. “We are now a company with huge capability and possibility that has completed exceeded our imagination, and it means that we should take on greater responsibilities, not only on business.”
Tencent confirmed the comments made by the executives at the meeting, which was first reported by Yicai.
Last week, Ma reiterated his call for internet platform companies take the lead in bearing social responsibility for their products and services in a speech at the World Internet Conference in Wuzhen, China. The company, China’s biggest game publisher, has been caught up in the cross hairs as the government clamps down on the online gaming industry amid widespread social concern that excessive playing of video games is leading to addiction and enfeebling the nation’s young.
As the company enters its third decade, Ma said he wants the company be the “most respected internet company that improves people’s quality of life”. Tencent will go in line with the direction of the country, integrate with people’s lives and develop partners with industry, he said.