Gender discrimination is rife in Hong Kong’s financial industry, reveals the results of eFinancialCareers' 2012 Diversity Survey. However, nearly half of finance professionals are not aware of gender diversity initiatives put in place by financial institutions to address this issue.
This lack of awareness may undermine the competitiveness of Hong Kong as a regional finance center and gateway for the Greater China market.
According to the survey, over half of respondents (52%) claim that gender discrimination takes place within financial services. Women are even more definite, with two thirds (66%) agreeing that gender discrimination occurs, against 44% of men.
While nearly two thirds of all respondents (64%) agree that women are equally represented at senior levels in their company, over half (54%) think the proportion of women sitting on their company board is not equal to that of men. However, 7 in ten respondents (70%) believe the number of women in top management positions in the finance industry will increase in the next five years.
The need for gender diversity programs is obvious. Over half of women (54%) surveyed state that a clear policy and established practices in diversity are very important when selecting a future employer. This compares to just over a third (34%)among men. However, nearly half of respondents (49%) say they do not know whether their firm has an explicit gender diversity program or targets.
Overall, over a third of respondents (37%) believe pay inequality between men and women in Hong Kong’s financial services persists. The sentiment is even stronger among women, with nearly 6 in ten (56%) agreeing that an income gap does exist.
Nonetheless, Hong Kong-based finance professionals remain optimistic, and half of surveyed respondents (50%) believes that the income gap will narrow over the next five years.
“Hong Kong is the Greater China hub for many multinational banks and financial institutions and plays a strategic role for expansions into Mainland China. As global banks continue to grow their presence in China, their local operations and HR policies will be required to comply with international standards,” says George McFerran, Managing Director, Asia Pacific, eFinancialCareers.
"The survey reveals that Hong Kong banks need to raise greater awareness for workplace diversity. Putting the right employee diversity initiatives in place to support gender equality is important to Hong Kong’s competitiveness as a global financial player and gateway to the growing China financial services market.”