Date
24 August 2017
Women make up more than half of the workforce in Hong Kong but occupy just under 30 percent of senior management positions, according to a Community Business survey. Photo: Bloomberg, HKEJ
Women make up more than half of the workforce in Hong Kong but occupy just under 30 percent of senior management positions, according to a Community Business survey. Photo: Bloomberg, HKEJ

It’s still a long way to the top for HK women executives

Women are making up more of the workforce in Hong Kong but few are moving up the career ladder, according to a report on gender diversity by not-for-profit group Community Business.

The group found that on average, women outnumber men and account for 50.9 percent of the city’s workforce, an increase of 6.6 percentage points compared with a similar survey in 2011.

But many were failing to move up the career ladder, with women filling 57.5 percent of junior management positions, 45.7 percent of middle management posts and 29.4 percent of senior management jobs.

Nevertheless, the results were an improvement on the 51.6 percent, 44.3 percent, 22.8 percent of corresponding management positions filled by women in the 2011 study.

The findings were contained in Community Business’s Gender Diversity Benchmark for Asia report, a survey of 32 companies in China, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Malaysia and Singapore. Data was collected between October, 2013 and March.

Community Business chief executive Fern Ngai said the results could reflect a lack of strong role models for women in the senior corporate ranks.

“Typically it’s about work-life balance and a decision between career and family … but I think there is probably also a lack of strong role models at the top in companies. If you look at Hong Kong companies, there are not too many female CEOs,” Ngai said.

She added that in Hong Kong’s culture, women do not always put themselves up for career advancement but it’s seen as more natural for men to do so.

Across the six markets, Hong Kong ranks third in the study in terms of women’s share of the total workforce, as well as at middle and senior levels. This puts it behind China and Malaysia, but ahead of Singapore, Japan and India.

Steven Victorin, head of Asia-Pacific corporate banking and global head of corporate banking subsidiaries at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, a sponsor of the study, said there have been improvements in gender diversity in Hong Kong but more needs to be done. 

“It’s important that gender diversity develops organically, because it’s part of the firm’s culture,” Victorin said.

At Bank of America, four of its 10 global management executives are women and about one-third of the bank’s senior directors are female.

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EJ Insight reporter

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