Survey report: Substantial rise in status of Hong Kong business women

Hong Kong – Seizing the occasion of the International Women’s Day, Grant Thornton Jingdu Tianhua released a survey report on the status of women in the business sector. The latest Grant Thornton International Business Report (IBR) surveyed a number of medium to large privately held businesses in Hong Kong and revealed that women currently hold 35% of the senior management positions, up seven percentage points from 28% in the last survey held in 2009. Globally, Hong Kong’s ranking also jumps from the 12th position in 2009 to the 4th this year, reflecting that Hong Kong women are playing vital roles in the workplace.

The status of women executives in mainland China is comparable to that of their Hong Kong counterparts: the percentage of mainland Chinese women holding senior positions has increased from 31% in 2009 to 34% in 2011, showing a rise in their status. In contrast to Hong Kong and the Mainland, globally only 20% of the senior management positions in the business sector are held by women, which is a drop of four percentage points from 2009.

Status of business women from emerging markets leads the world
Thailand boasts the highest percentage of women in senior management (45%) among the 39 economies surveyed, followed by Georgia (40%), Russia (36%), Hong Kong (35%) and the Philippines (35%). The economies with the lowest percentages are India (9%), the United Arab Emirates (8%) and Japan (8%).

The survey results reveal that working women in emerging economies enjoy a higher status than those from developed economies. For examples, merely 16% of senior management positions in the G7 countries are held by women, well behind the global average. In contrast, the average for Asian Pacific economies (excluding Japan) is 27%. Moreover, in Hong Kong, Thailand, Greece, Belgium and Botswana, the percentage of business women in senior roles has risen by at least 7% compared to results from 2009.

Female senior business executives hold top financial roles
Many of the female senior executives in the Hong Kong companies surveyed are financial talents: as many as 34% of them are finance directors or chief financial officers. This is followed by human resources directors (30%), sales directors (17%) and marketing directors (15%).

Globally just 8% of the surveyed businesses with women holding senior managerial positions have a female chief executive officer (CEO). The situation in Asia, however, is quite different. Thailand tops the list with 30% of the businesses employing female CEOs, followed by the Mainland (19%), Taiwan (18%) and Vietnam (16%). With only 8% of the businesses having a female CEO, Hong Kong is on a par with the global average.

Daniel Lin, managing partner of Grant Thornton Jingdu Tianhua, says, “The results of this survey indicate that, in employing people, Hong Kong and Mainland companies are having an eye on strength and work performance. Currently the finance directors and chief financial officers of many of our publicly listed clients are females, pointing to the encouraging fact that more and more Hong Kong and Mainland women are holding senior managerial positions.”

“As for Grant Thornton Jingdu Tianhua, about two-third of all our new recruits are female,” continued Daniel Lin, “We expect these female staff members will be risen to position of a director or partner. We would be pleased to see more females taking up senior management positions in our firm. In fact, to excel in the accounting sector requires not only professional knowledge and experience, but also good communication skills. In this last aspect, females often excel. We have also found that most female candidates have better language skills than male candidates, and this has accorded them with advantage during interviews.”