"I just wonder why so few men have connections here."
"We've had a male director before, and it just didn't work."
"We have a male P.A. who looks after the board, so you won't feel so alone."
While it is all too easy to imagine such bias-loaded phrases being spoken to a woman, it is more of a challenge to think of them being directed to a man being interviewed for a board position, as is the scenario presented in this video by The Women's Foundation (TWF) and The 30% Club Hong Kong, which calls for more Hong Kong companies to appoint women to their boards.
Featuring three of the city's top female leaders — Susanna Hui, executive director and group managing director of HKT; Teresa Ko, China chairman and partner at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer; and Irene Lee, chairman of Hysan Development Company Limited and chair of The 30% Club Hong Kong — the video is a provocative way to highlight some of the prevailing attitudes that prevent more women from joining boards.
According to the most recent report by the non-profit Community Business, released this year, the representation of women on boards in Hong Kong's top listed companies has only increased marginally in the last decade, from 8.9% in 2009 to 13.8% in 2018. And of 51 Hang Seng Index companies in Hong Kong, 10 — including China Mobile, Tencent Holdings and China Resources Land — still have all-male boards.
This makes the targets sets by The 30% Club to achieve 20% female representation by 2020 and zero all-male boards by the end of 2018 seems unlikely to be met.
The video exists in both English and Cantonese versions and its title, 'Flipping The Script', is borrowed from a similar film produced by the Australian Institude of Company Directors.
“We must keep advocating for change and progress," said Fiona Nott, CEO of TWF. "Hong Kong still lags far behind other global financial centres with female directors comprising 29% in UK and 30% In Australia. Hong Kong’s progress has stalledwith only 13% female directors of HSI companies despite the strong business case that shows that gender diverse boards and management teams are good for business.”
Merchant Cantos, part of Brunswick Group, helped produce this video.