Ma has been doing his best to increase gender balance in the workforce, revealing in 2015 that 47 percent of the Chinese internet giant’s overall staff – and 33 percent of those in senior roles – are female.
Speaking at Alibaba’s Gateway 2017 event in Detroit last week, the billionaire tech entrepreneur said women will be “very powerful” in the 21st century.
Ma said hiring female talent had been one of the secrets of the Chinese e-commerce giant’s success.
“Women are going to be very powerful in the 21st century. Because last century people compared about muscle [but] this century people compare about wisdom. Hire as many women possible. This is what we did, and this is the secret sauce.”
Ma advised managers to hire staff who are smarter than they are.
“I give a lot of advice to my colleagues. Whey they hire people, there’s one judge – look at the young man; if you think he will be [your] boss in five years, hire him,” he said.
He also warned the current crop of tech market leaders against complacency.
“When Netscape was so good we never thought it would disappear,” he said. “Yahoo was good; we never thought it would be like [it is] today. So don’t believe you will be good all the time – be paranoid.”