Grant Thornton Hong Kong: Higher proportion of women in senior management in China than in Europe

Latest Grant Thornton International Business Report (the Report) reveals that 30% of the senior roles in businesses are held by women in China compared with the 24% in Europe, 22% in the Group of Seven (G7) and the global average of 24%. However, the increase in this ratio in Asia Pacific (APAC), including China, continued to be slow. Presently, 31% of the corporations in the region even appoint no women to the senior management.

The data in this report are drawn from 5,520 interviews with businesses in 36 economies. The Report reveals that women hold only 23% of the senior management roles in APAC. The top three Asian countries with the highest proportion of women in the high-level corporate positions are the Philippines (39%), Thailand (37%) and Indonesia (36%), whereas Japan (7%), New Zealand (19%) and Australia (22%) areat the bottom of the ranking.

Joyce Lee, audit partnerat Grant Thornton Hong Kong commented, “There is a growing global trend towards diversification of the composition of the top management in businesses, which is even more pronounced in APAC. Women with higher education qualifications are well recognised generally in work. Nonetheless, around one-third of the businesses across the region still appoint no women to their senior management.”

Although the report had not covered the number of women who held positions in the senior management in businesses in Hong Kong, according to Grant Thornton Hong Kong’s recent Corporate Governance Report, more than half of Hong Kong Hang Seng Index and Hang Seng Composite Index companies still had none or less than 10% of female directors on their boards. Furthermore, out of the Legislative Council’s 70 members, only 11 members are female (approximately 16%), indicating that proportion of women in leadership is still low in Hong Kong.

However, an encouraging trend was reported according to a survey conducted by the Census and Statistics Department of Hong Kong – managers, administrators, professionals and associate professionals as a percentage of the female working population rose from 16% in 1993 to 31.4% in 2014, as compared with the 44% of the male working populationin 2014. Ms. Lee regarded the difficulty for women to climb up the corporate ladder to the leadership and to attain a higher social status was probably because women are more often facing the tough task of juggling their jobs with their family needs. According to the Research Brief 2014-2015 by the Legislative Council Secretariat, over 80% of women aged between 30 and 59 in Hong Kong chose not to work because they had to take care of their families.

Ms. Lee suggested the government to step up the efforts in promoting a more family-friendly employment practice among the corporations so as to provide a better work environment for women, which would help eliminate the barrier to women’sparticipation in society and in turn elevate their social status. She continued,“As mentioned in the report, the success in enhancing women’s social status and bringing more labour resources to enterprises hinges on the cooperation between corporations, the government and the ladies themselves.”