HR & EDUCATION | Staff Reporter, Hong Kong

Lady boss: Hong Kong trails developed countries in female c-level representation

The number of women on HSI boards rose to 13.8% but Canada and US boards are over 20% female.

Although female representation on Hang Seng Index boards rose from 12.4% to 13.8% YoY as of January 2018, Hong Kong still trails Singapore and other developed countries in terms of female c-level representation, according to the latest Women on Boards Hong Kong Report released by non-profit Community Business. 

For the first time, almost a third (29.4%) of 51 HSI companies have reached 20% or more female representation on their boards, while the number of all-male boards has dipped to 10. The number of all-male boards which have never had any female directors has also reduced slightly from four to three.

Despite these improvements, overall progress for female representation in Hong Kong’s upper management levels remains slow over the last nine years. Malaysia, for instance, registers the highest number of women on its boards at 19.1%. Close regional competitor Singapore also accelerated feminine representation from 10.9% to 13.1% even without a mandated quota.

Hong Kong’s sluggish trajectory stands in even starker contrast when pitted against global counterparts as the UK is now voluntarily targeting 33% represntation on FTSE100 boards by 2020 whilst other markets with over 20% representation of women on their boards include Australia, Canada, the United States, and Norway.

“As an important global financial centre with high standards of corporate governance and a favourable business environment, Hong Kong risks losing its competitive edge with its continued complacency on this issue. Other jurisdictions are making significant progress, including regional counterparts. Singapore and India look well placed to overtake Hong Kong very soon. This should ring alarm bells for Hong Kong’s business community as companies ignore this important issue at their peril,” said Community Business CEO Fern Ngai.

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