Hong Kong News

Nonpartisan, Noncommercial, unconstrained.
Tuesday, May 30, 2023

The future is female? A third of Hong Kong companies still have all-male boards

The future is female? A third of Hong Kong companies still have all-male boards

More than half of professionals polled pessimistic about board diversity mandate achieving its goals

Hong Kong businesswoman Lily Cheng Ka-lai recalls attending her first board meeting as an independent non-executive director of a travel company in Europe in 2016 and feeling intimidated but determined to speak up.

“For a lot of women with my profile and age, they never thought this path was possible,” the 44-year-old Cheng told the Post at the Women of Influence awards organised by the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) on Tuesday. “It always seemed like you had to be in your 60s or 70s as a retired CEO or accounting firm partner [to sit on a board of directors].”

Cheng, who began her career in the technology and internet sector, is now a member of six boards, three of which were listed companies in the city, including Swire Properties.

But about a third of the city’s listed companies still have only men on their boards, despite the Hong Kong stock exchange requiring at least one female representative in all of its listed companies by the end of 2024.

Lily Cheng (left) accepts her award for leading women director from Goldman Sachs managing director Maggie Ho.

About 54 per cent of nearly 200 professionals polled by AmCham were pessimistic about whether the mandate would achieve what the exchange hoped.

While nearly 80 per cent of respondents said there were women in C-suite positions in their company, the chamber said the professionals had expressed concerns that boardroom diversity might not be boosted as companies would tap the same pool of women who were already holding board positions.

“We don’t feel it’s a case of companies not wanting to make these changes, but instead that ingrained prejudices that continue to permeate thinking among some leaders of companies in Hong Kong are challenging to address without adequate support,” said Chelsea Perino, co-chair of AmCham’s women of influence committee.

Cheng said one major obstacle to having more women corporate decision-makers in the city rested with companies’ reluctance to allow working female executives to accept invitations for non-executive boardroom roles in other firms.

Men did not face the same problem as many candidates for non-executive director roles were retired, Cheng said.

“They might be worried that if this board requires six meetings a year, that’s six days out of the executive’s time that she would otherwise be spending with the company, but the value executives add isn’t counted by the hours they spend,” she said.

“Perhaps by participating in the board of another company, they could bring fresh ideas back to their role.”

While the city’s bourse was the first in Asia to issue diversity requirements, the threshold is lower than Nasdaq’s requirement for listed companies to include at least one woman and one member from a racial minority, ethnicity or sexuality on corporate boards by last August. The European Commission approved legislation last June requiring 40 per cent of non-executive board members be women in four years.

Champion for women joint winners Felicity McRobb (left) and Mary McHale celebrate at the awards.

Responding to a Post inquiry, Tori Cowley, chief communications officer for the Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing, said the bourse was a vocal champion of diversity and would continue to advocate for greater diversity while setting an example with their board, community initiatives and diversity network.

Mary McHale, a director of data firm Equinix, said a lone female member in a male-dominated boardroom could present difficulties.

“If you only have one woman on a board of 12, how often do you think she’s going to be willing to speak up and drive change?” McHale said, adding that 50 per cent women should be the goal.

Cheng said the requirement was a good starting point, but that alone would not be enough to put more women on the city’s boards.

Cheng was awarded leading woman director or executive while McHale was crowned champion of women at the awards.


Related Articles

Hong Kong News
Nvidia CEO Huang says firms, individuals without AI expertise will be left behind
WPP Revolutionizes Advertising with NVIDIA's AI Powerhouse
Two US Employees Fired For Chasing Robbers Out Of Store As They Broke ''Company Policy''
Pfizer, the EU, and disappearing ink - Smoke, Mirrors, and the Billion-Dose Pfizer Vaccine Deal: EU's 'Open Secret
The Sussexes' Royal Rebound: Could Harry and Meghan Markle Return to the UK?
A provocative study suggests: Left-Wing Extremism and its Unsettling Connection to Psychopathy and Narcissism
Neuralink Receives FDA Approval for First-in-Human Clinical Study
Ukrainian Intelligence Official Admits to Assassination Attempts on Putin
WATCH THIS: democracy in Russia is so bad!
Ed Davey: It is possible for a woman to have a penis
Bernard Arnault Loses $11.2 Billion in One Day as Investors Fear Slowdown in US Growth Will Reduce Demand for Luxury Products
Russian’s Wagner Group leader: “I am not a chef, I am a butcher. Russia is in danger of a revolution like in 1917.”
TikTok Sues Montana Over Law Banning the App
Ron DeSantis Jumps Into 2024 Presidential Race, Setting Up Showdown With Trump
Steve Jobs introducing Apple's iPhone, exactly 16 years ago.
Banking Behemoth vs Ex-Boss: The PMorgan-Epstein Entanglement
China overtakes Japan as world's top car exporter
Talks between US House Republicans and President Biden's Democratic administration on raising the federal government's $31.4tn debt ceiling have paused
Biden Administration Eyeing High-Profile Visits to China: The Biden Administration is heating things up by looking into setting up a series of top-level visits to Beijing by top officials in the coming months
New evidence in special counsel probe may undercut Trump’s claim documents he took were automatically declassified
A French court of appeals confirmed former President Nicolas Sarkozy's three-year jail term for corruption and influence peddling
Debt Ceiling Crises Have Unleashed Political Chaos
Weibao Wang, a former software engineer at Apple, was charged with stealing trade secrets related to autonomous systems, including self-driving cars
Mobile phone giant Vodafone to cut 11,000 jobs globally over three years as new boss says its performance not good enough
Elon Musk compares George Soros to Magneto, the supervillain from the Marvel Comics series.
Warren Buffett Sells TSMC Shares Over Concerns About Taiwan's Stability
New Study Finds That Secondary Bacterial Pneumonia Is a Major Cause of Death in COVID-19 Patients Who Require Ventilator Assistance
The official tapes of Trump's deposition in the E. Jean Carroll battery (rape) and defamation case have been released.
King Charles III being crowned.
Newly released video of Donald Trump’s rape trial deposition:
Video: Ukraine MP Punches Russian Representative At Global Meet
El Paso mayor has declared a state of emergency
Russia accused Ukraine of attacking the Kremlin with drones in an attempt to kill Putin
Dutch court orders man who fathered 550 kids to stop donating sperm
Kim Kardashian Lookalike Christina Ashten Dies Of Cardiac Arrest, Hours After Plastic Surgery
Samsung has banned employees from using generative AI services such as ChatGPT
'Godfather Of AI' Geoffrey Hinton Quits Google To Warn Of The Tech's Dangers
A Real woman
Vermont Man Charged with Stalking After Secretly Tracking Woman with Apple AirTag
Elon Musk Statements About Tesla Autopilot Could Be 'Deepfakes,' Lawyers Claim. Judge Evette Pennypacker Does Not Understand How Far and Advanced This Technology Became
Ukraine More Prepared for Counterattack as Reinforcements Arrive
Tucker Carlson is back, soon!
China Unveils Construction Road Map for Lunar Research Station
NetEase Launches Low-Code Platform to Help Businesses Develop Custom Apps
AT&T's Successful Test of Satellite-Based Phone Call Raises Possibility of Widespread Coverage
CNN: "Joe Biden is asking for four more years — when 74% of Americans think the country is heading the wrong way“
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan Cuts Short Live TV Interview Due to Health Issue
5 men dressed as women agree that ALL white people are racist.
President Biden announced his campaign to run for a 2nd term.
Justin Trudeau vs. Trudeau Justin