For Immediate Release
Gender equality in Hong Kong is progressing in the right direction but still has a long way to go, according to speakers at the HeForShe Forum held today to celebrate the International Women’s Day and to promote gender equality under the United Nations’ global HeForShe initiative.
The Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce (HKGCC) and The French Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Hong Kong (FCCIHK) engaged senior executives of leading local and multinational Hong Kong and French companies to share their views on this global initiative.
This second HeForShe forum follows the successful launch of the “HeforShe” conference by FCCIHK in 2017. This year, more than 500 C-Suite executives and heads of French and Hong Kong companies and their delegates attended the event at HKEX’s recently opened Connect Hall.
Mr Matthew Cheung, Acting Chief Executive of the HKSAR, delivering the keynote address at the event, said that gender equality is vital to Hong Kong’s continued success as the premier business hub in the Asia-Pacific region. “The significance and benefits of a gender inclusive and family friendly working environment to developing, attracting and retaining the best talents, both males and females, are enormous,” he said.
Mr Cheung added: “The Government is committed to promoting women’s development and advancement in all fields and accords high priority to creating a more enabling environment for women to make an informed choice to join or remain in the workforce.” He also thanked the Hong Kong Exchanges for supporting the establishment of the Gender Focal Points and spearheading reforms to promote board diversity in order to raise awareness of gender mainstreaming in the business community.
HKGCC Chairman Stephen Ng highlighted the significant achievements that women have been achieving in the workplace. “While about one-third of Hong Kong’s solicitors and public accountants were females 20 years ago, the percentage has risen to some 50%. Also, one in three managerial positions are currently taken up by females. While we can rightly take pride in these figures, there is absolutely no room for complacency and we should always be aiming to do better. This is especially true at board level, where only 14% of our board directors are females, just slightly ahead of Singapore at 10%.” He added that HKGCC has long encouraged businesses to increase diversity in their boardroom and also recommended policies for the Government to increase female participation in the workforce.
President of FCCIHK Rebecca Silli said: “Empowering women and improving gender equality are imperative for companies that want to perform at the highest level. I am proud that The HKGCC and HKEX join us to engage men and boys in removing the social and cultural barriers that prevent women and girls from achieving their potential in Hong Kong.”
HKEX Chairman C K Chow said: “We all benefit when everyone has an opportunity to make the most of his or her abilities. Businesses should consider both women and men equally for their leadership positions. Women's Exchange of HKEX has advocated gender equality in our company and community since it was formed by members of our staff in 2013, and it continues to remind us of the importance of fairness and a level playing field in the workplace.”
To gain a clearer picture of how women contribute in fostering disruption and innovation in the workplace in Hong Kong, HKGCC and FCCIHK commissioned a research study that was conducted by a global consultancy firm, Wavestone. The firm examined the role of women in startups in Hong Kong and how corporates can attract and retain women, and by doing so achieve more innovation within their own organization:The study found that the primary reasons for women choosing to work in a startup are because they face a glass ceiling in corporations and that they want to make an impact on the company. Furthermore, women highly value organizations demonstrating a participative leadership style where their ideas are being heard and where they are being recognized for their work. Lastly, women surveyed said they are looking for an environment that offers work-life balance, career flexibility and the ability to work from home.
If corporates can embrace some of these findings, they will accelerate the way that female employees in their organization innovate, excel and grow through the ranks.
“HeForShe” is a solidarity campaign for gender equality that was launched in September 2014 by the United Nations with the purpose of inviting and engaging men in removing the social and cultural barriers that prevent women from achieving their potential. The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, known as (UN Women) was established to accelerate progress on meeting women’s needs worldwide.
In line with HeForShe, FCCIHK organised two workshops in 2017 with Schneider Electric, worldwide Impact Champion of HeForShe and Kering to showcase their diversity and inclusion best practises. For 2018, FCCIHK and HKGCC will organise sharing sessions for supporting companies’ representatives and other interested participants to inspire and foster implementation of gender equality policies in their companies.
For more information, visit www.heforshe.org/en .
Photo 1: The Hon Matthew Cheung, Acting Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, delivers the opening keynote address.
Photo 2: President of the French Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Hong Kong Rebecca Silli; Chairman of the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce Stephen Ng; and Chairman of Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited CK Chow, pose for a group photo with the Hon Matthew Cheung, Acting Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.
Photo 3: Olivier Blum, Chief HR Officer of Schneider Electric, gives the official presentation of HeForShe.
Photo 4: Speakers on the C-level Panel: Luc-Francois Salvador, Executive Chairman, APAC & Middle East, Capgemini; Allan Zeman, Chairman of Lan Kwai Fong Group; Lincoln Leong, CEO of MTR Corporation Limited and Steve Clark, CEO of SUEZ Asia. The panel is moderated by Angelina Kwan, Managing Director and Head of Regulatory Compliance, Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited.
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