Accelerate Action on Board Gender Diversity

Company boards are facing unprecedented challenges: geopolitical risks, human capital shifts and rapid acceleration of technology and digitisation. Navigating these complexities meaningfully and urgently requires the full spectrum of talent available.

This is why last week TWF and 30% Club Hong Kong called on companies to set meaningful targets and take concrete steps to achieve greater gender parity on boards during its 10th Anniversary 30% Club HK Boardroom Forum.

Since the founding of the 30% Club Hong Kong in 2013, the number of women holding board seats on Hang Seng Index (HSI) companies has only modestly increased from 10.5% to 18.9%. And whilst Hong Kong has undergone key reforms by HKEX including that will eliminate single-gender boards for all listed companies, Hong Kong still lags far behind other leading financial centres. The UK and US have achieved over 30% women's representation on corporate boards, with 40.5% and 32.6% respectively. In Asia Pacific, women currently hold 38.1% of board positions in Australia, 29.7% in Malaysia, and 21.5% in Singapore.

How do we accelerate progress in Hong Kong?

Boards and companies should be proactive and take significant steps to unlock the benefits of diverse leadership and promote strong corporate governance to address increasingly complex issues that boards are faced with. A concrete next step is for companies to set targets of at least 30% by 2027.

TWF has - and will continue to be - active advocates for more diverse boards. Our programmes, in particular our Boardroom Series for Women Leaders, aim to develop the pipeline of women for board roles, connect senior women leaders to board opportunities, and provide women with executive leadership skills for the transition to the boardroom and leadership positions.

With more than 500 board seats opening up to women leaders over the next year from the new HKEX gender diversity requirements for listed company boards, companies in Hong Kong have a critical opportunity to make meaningful progress towards gender diversity on their boards and eliminate all-male boards for good. We are determined to break down closed circle networks that limit female board appointments which is why our Women To Watch directory, comprised of senior women leader board candidates, will be expanded and made available to listed companies beginning this Autumn, increasing the visibility of talented women and helping companies identify and recruit diverse board members.

We recognise the onus for action is not just on companies. The Government needs to make a bolder commitment to advance board gender diversity. Investors and wider societal stakeholders need to voice this as a priority. Diversity is a hallmark of good governance and we all recognise strong corporate governance is crucial for Hong Kong to remain competitive as an international financial hub.

With persistence and action, we can make substantial progress and reap the benefits of gender diverse leadership on boards.

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P.S. Connect is going on summer break until August 23. In the meantime, we'll be sending out a short survey to hear your views on our newsletter – stay tuned!


Written by

The Women's Foundation