Working women in Asia continue to seek positions at the head of the corporate table, but the sad fact is that Singapore and Hong Kong fall far behind their counterparts in the West when it comes to counting females in its boardrooms. This is even though there are more than enough talented women and statistics have shown there are great benefits by supporting female executives, promotions are still hard to come by.
A new report strongly emphasizes the need for business owners to ignore market pressures and correct the out of balance condition, perhaps with quotas.
Based in Washington, DC, United States (US), Corporate Women Directors International (CWDI) confirmed recently that Asia is one of the world’s least significant areas for women on boards of directors, with this being behind only Latin America and the Middle East. Concentrated local data gathering found that women comprise only 12.4 percent of directors at 50 biggest organizations in Hong Kong and with top 108 companies in Singapore coming in at 10.8 percent. Western Europe boasts of a 25 percent or more guideline for quotas for most women on boards.
With the 50 big Hong Kong companies dragging along throughout eight years to bring just 26 female directorships to the table even though there is a big selection of 700,000 women graduates in the area, change has been slow. However, an group called the 30% Club in Hong Kong mean that fewer corporations with only men on their boards. But technology companies like PetroChina and Tencent still have an all male bastion in their boardrooms.
At this rate, an entire generation would have to pass so as to be toe to toe with those in the West. Also, worse still, discussions in both Singapore and Hong Kong are only working toward 20 percent as the desired outcome for women directors by 2020.
India and Malaysia have utilized a more rigid protocol and, in so doing, are making faster progress. They have adopted bigger mandatory quotas which lower the possibility of a corporation adding the proverbial “token woman” to a board of directors. These quotas will mandate more women entering top roles coupled with typical niches such as legal and human resources.
It is critical that Asian financial hubs more forward with quotas or at least support the promise of them in a more effective way.