Women on HK Company Boards Less Than US and UK: Report
A report released by Hong Kong based non-profit “Community Business,” just ahead of International Women’s Day, shows that there is a lower proportion of women on company boards in Hong Kong than in Europe or the United States.
The report states that out of all the board positions in companies listed on the Hang Seng Index, only 9 percent are held by women. This percentage is significantly lower than the UK at 15 percent and the US at 16 percent. In Norway, 40 percent of company directors are women.
Shalini Mahtani, Founder of Community Business, says there are invisible barriers limiting women’s upward progress in companies.
[Shalini Nahtani, Founder of Community Business]:
"We coined a phrase called the 'invisible filter' and a couple of our women talked about this 'invisible filter' where they said as you progress to senior management you gradually filter yourself out. You're not being pushed out but you filter yourself out because it just gets too difficult in the corporate world to navigate all the politics and everything else."
One of the issues facing women in high powered jobs is whether to get married and take time away to have children. Many women fear being overtaken and losing their positions while on leave.
Emily Lau, the first woman to be elected to the Legislative Council agrees.
[Emily Lau, LegCo Member, Vice Chairman, Democratic Party]:
"So it's very, very difficult and that's why the worldwide trend now many women choose not to get married let alone to have kids. It's a problem in Hong Kong, in Korea, in Japan, many places."
48 percent of the work force and 55 percent of all Hong Kong university students are women. The report calls upon the Hong Kong government and companies to work together and think up measures to get more women into boardrooms.