SEOUL, July 9 (Yonhap) -- Women accounted for 1 out of 5 employees at South Korea's top 600 companies as the country moves to take full advantage of talented workers irrespective of their gender, a local think tank said Sunday.
The finding that excludes financial and insurance firms showed 22.6 percent of employees in large businesses were women as of last year.
This represents a steady increase from 21.3 percent tallied in 2012, with numbers rising to 21.7 percent in 2014 and 22.5 percent in the following year.
"There were 227,028 women employees in 2012, with numbers hitting 254,452 last year, representing an increase of some 27,000.
By type of business, 57.7 percent of women were in retail and wholesale.
It said the number of female employees shot up the sharpest in retail and information technology, while posts in real estate and rental services, as well as manufacturing, contracted last year when compared with 2012.
KERI's findings then showed Hyosung ITX, Woongjin Think Big, Shinsegae International, Shinyoung Wacoal Inc. and AmorePacific Corp. had the highest percentage of women workers.
IT solutions provider Hyosung ITX reported women make up 82.4 percent of its workforce, with numbers for the other top five companies all in the upper 60 percent to 70 percent range.
Others, such as GS Retail and Daemyung Corp., witnessed sharp increases in female workers from 2012 to last year.
The private research institute under the Federation of Korean Industries said that companies with large numbers of women retained their workforces by offering various programs to support working mothers.
"Many companies offered long maternity leave and time off to take care of children, with others providing reduced work hours for women with young kids," KERI said.
It said with South Korea ranking 30th among 34 countries checked within the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in terms of economic participation of women, there is a pressing need to overhaul the male-oriented business environment.
"With a fifth of married women being forced to quit work because they have to care for kids, more efforts must be made so women can hold onto their jobs while taking care of their families," the research institute said.
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