Hong Kong businesses stand to lose millions due to the loss of female talent

Hong Kong businesses stand to lose millions due to the loss of female talent
Hong Kong’s female talent pool nearly halves by the senior management level – representing a huge opportunity cost for businesses, 2019 study finds Gender diversity at the top is proven to boost the bottom line , challenge conventional thinking and serves to drive innovation and transformation HKU creates the Women’s Development Programme to tackle the fallout of female talent from the corporate world
Tuesday 18th June 2019 – Hong Kong – Hong Kong’s Female Talent Pipeline Study developed by The University of Hong Kong, Faculty of Business and Economics (HKU FBE) and Meraki Executive Search & Consulting, has unveiled that the departure of female talent from Hong Kong businesses is costing the city dearly.
Hong Kong companies stand to lose 45 per cent of their female talent over the course of their careers, representing a huge opportunity cost (from 53 per cent total workforce female representation to 29 per cent at senior management level). Large organisations (with >500 employees) in particular are facing the greatest challenge – they are at risk of losing, on average, 57 per cent of their female talent over the course of their careers (from 52 per cent total workforce female representation to 22 per cent at senior management level) resulting in a loss of more than half a million US Dollars, on average, per senior leader.
“Nine out of every 10 Hong Kong women report barriers to reaching their career aspirations. From a lack of promotional opportunities in their companies / industries and not being recognised and valued, to the burden of family commitments.” said Kirti Lad, Executive Director, Meraki Executive Search & Consulting.
Meraki Executive Search & Consulting.
Hong Kong has some of the longest working hours in the world, presenteeism is rife and there is a lack of flexible or part-time roles in the city. In order to increase the participation of women in the workplace and to retain their skills and experience within the talent pool, we must rethink the structure of work – in terms of how, when and where employees work. Without concerted focus on managing the female talent pipeline, companies stand to merely reinforce the status quo, losing out on opportunities to challenge conventional thinking and drive innovation and business transformation.” Lad continued.
Large organizations employing more than 500 people in Hong Kong face the largest loss of female talent at the top level. Large companies have an average of 22 per cent woman at senior management level, compared to small organizations (employing less than 50 people) with 61 per cent female senior management representation. “Smaller companies in Hong Kong attract senior female talent who require greater flexibility and time.” Suggested Lad.
Prof. Haipeng Shen, Associate Dean, Executive Education, The University of Hong Kong, said: “At The University of Hong Kong, we see 54 per cent women at the undergraduate level, yet despite the abundance of talent in Hong Kong, this study shows the female representation at senior management level in companies across the city, stands at only 29 per cent. Companies benefit from the wealth of talent on offer in Hong Kong at entry to mid-level management, only to slowly lose female talent through the ranks as they drop out of the workforce, or seek greater flexibility and environments where their contribution is valued.”
The Women’s Development Programme
In light of the recent findings, The University of Hong Kong, Faculty of Business and Economics (HKU FBE) in partnership with Meraki Executive Search & Consulting, have announced a new programme to enable organisations to develop, retain and motivate their high-potential female talent. As an extension of the Women’s Directorship Programme, the leading board governance programme, the new Women’s Development Programme serves to address the talent need at the management levels below the C-suite, serving to shore up the female talent pipeline and increase the number of women executives available to eventually take on the boardroom challenge.
“Companies that have at least 30 per cent gender diversity overall, outperform their less diverse counterparts in key leadership and business outcomes. In the disruptive era in which we operate, it is now more important than ever for companies to have innovative leaders who can challenge conventional thinking.” Commented Lad. “To support future female leaders, Meraki and The University of Hong Kong have developed a programme to support high potential female talent during the transformation journey from mid to senior management.”
The Women’s Development Programme will provide tools to enable women to manage multiple competing priorities at work and home, ensuring they are best positioned for success. As Hong Kong’s Female Talent Pipeline Study shows, mid to senior level management is when most female executives are at risk of leaving the workforce, resulting in companies losing vast amounts of experience, insights and potential. The Women’s Development Programme serves to inspire, engage and open up new networks to support women as they advance in their careers.
This new six-day programme will kick off in September 2019, including teaching modules such as: Strategic Leadership, Negotiation and Collaboration, Strategies for Future Business, Persuasive Communication, Managing Your Ecosystem, Ethics and Compliance. The programme is supported by a number of senior female role models including top female executives from Standard Chartered Bank and Walmart Asia with the intention of supporting high potential women. As Hong Kong’s Female Talent Pipeline Study demonstrated, Hong Kong is battling with a lack of role models, 59 per cent do not have any inspirational figures in their lives.
For more information on the WDP Series of programmes, key findings from the study, or a copy of the report, please visit: www.wdpinternational.com.
Notes to Editors:
About the Hong Kong Female Talent Pipeline Study
Many gender diversity studies are led out of the West and as we face a unique set of challenges in Asia when managing our female talent pipeline, it was imperative to create an annual study that tracks Hong Kong’s progress (from entry level to the board). The study encompasses three elements – a company tracker, a ‘women in HK’ survey and a series of qualitative interviews with Hong Kong business leaders – and represents more than 200,000 Hong Kong employees (approx. 5 per cent of the total workforce). Opportunity cost of lost senior talent calculated using an annual package basis of $600k USD, including hiring costs, onboarding and training costs, plus accounting for loss of productivity as the old employee exits and new employee learns the ropes. If accounting for team disruption, relationship equity and loss of company IP etc then this figure could easily double. For more information, or to sign up for the 2019 study, please visit www.wdpinternational.com.
WDP Series:
Meraki Executive Search & Consulting run the Women’s Directorship Programme (board governance programme) and the Women’s Development Programme (high-potential management programme) in partnership with The University of Hong Kong. The Women’s Directorship Programme features contributing speakers including the Chairmen and board directors of Mastercard, Schneider Electric, MTR, Hang Seng Bank, the London Stock Exchange, Blackrock and Deloitte. The Women’s Development Programme serves to challenge conventional thinking and engage women during the transitionary period from mid to senior level management. For more information on the WDP programmes, please visit: www.wdpinternational.com.
About Executive Education, The University of Hong Kong
Established in 1998 under the auspices of the HKU Business School of the University of Hong Kong, Executive Education specialises in providing Executive Programmes to executives of local, regional and international private and public organisations. HKU Business School is a leading institution for business and economics education and research in Asia offering top quality degree programmes and executive education programmes that serve the needs of the business sector and the community. For more information, please visit: www.fbe.hku.hk.
About Meraki Executive Search & Consulting
Meraki Executive Search & Consulting works with leading companies to transform their business – through diversity, innovation and technology. Meraki offers four service lines; Executive Search, Board Advisory, Leadership Consulting and Leadership Development. Seek the extraordinary, visit www.merakiexecutive.com for more information.
Spokespeople from Meraki and HKU are available for interview or comment. We can also arrange interviews with Hong Kong business leaders who are supporting the WDP Series of programmes.
Media contacts:
Sophie Gray
Executive Director – Head of Marketing
Meraki Executive Search & Consulting
E: sophie.gray@merakiexecutive.com
T: +852 55979776 (HK) / +84 93132 9919 (VN)
Tiffany Lau
E: tiffany.lau@edelman.com
T: 2837 4725


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