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Hong Kong has finally achieved double-digit representation of women in the boards of leading companies – however, it still lags its global peers by a wide margin.
Community Business’ latest research pegs the representation of women on the boards of 50 blue-chip companies on the Hang Seng Index (HSI) at 11.1%, up from 9.6% last year.
However, nearly three-quarters of companies have actually seen no improvement, leaving the city lagging behind its global counterparts, most notably UK (23%), US (19.2%) and Australia (19.2%).
“These disappointingly slow moving numbers clearly shows that there continues to be cultural and structural barriers facing women, denying them full participation in Hong Kong’s economic growth and excluding them from key decision-making position,” said Fern Ngai, CEO of Community Business.
Out of a total of 655 directorships on the HSI, 73 are currently held by women, and nearly three-quarters of companies now have at least one woman on their boards.
Nearly a quarter of companies (24%) have at least 15% women on their boards, a percentage often cited as being the critical mass required for companies to reap the benefits of gender diversity.
The top three companies with the highest representation of women on their boards were:
- HSBC Holdings PLC – 35.3%
- The Link Management Ltd – 30.8%
- China Resources Power Holdings Company Ltd – 27.3%
Conversely, the number of companies with all-male boards has dropped – from 16 in 2014, to 14 companies in 2015.
However, the report points out that there are still three-quarters of companies that are to show improvement.
“As many as 25 companies have seen no increase in the percentage of women on their boards since 2014. Of more concern is that eight companies have actually seen the percentage of women on their boards reduce in the last twelve months,” it stated.
It also highlighted seven companies “ignoring the call to action,” by having zero representation of women on their boards since 2009:
- China Merchants Holdings (International) Company Ltd.
- China Resources Enterprise Ltd.
- CNOOC Ltd.
- Petrochina Company Ltd.
- Tencent Holdings Ltd.
- The Bank of East Asia Ltd.
- The Hong Kong and China Gas Company Ltd.