Also on our panel was Harjeet Baura, Financial Services Consulting Leader, PwC Hong Kong. He suggested that while policies and diversity measures are significant, it is important to build a workplace culture that enables inclusion and empowerment for all employees.
From senior management's perspective, everyone says ‘Yes, we have this policy’, but as you get further down in the organisation, staff do not feel empowered,” he noted.
Policy is the enabler of normalising a culture of diversity and inclusion. But culture and tone from leadership is the driver.
As Harjeet said: “People need to work as a team and trust each other. Policies can’t do that. It’s all about the culture and DNA in the organisation. “
Companies also need influential male and female leaders to drive the top-down cultural change. “We need to change their mindset and convince people that it’s the right thing to do,” said Harjeet.
The survey also revealed the perception men are paid more than women. 72 per cent of senior female employees felt they do not earn as much as senior men while only 23 per cent of senior male employees agree with this. However, all of the surveyed organisations confirmed they have internal processes to review and ensure there is no pay disparity between men and women.
Fiona shared the mandatory report requirements on gender pay gap in the UK and how it helps reduce the gap because of the transparency. “The way we should address the [pay gap] perception is that companies can be more transparent about their policies on pay parity and talk to employees about what it actually means for them.”
As the convener of an informal group of Women Chief Executives among the financial institutions in Hong Kong, I think there are a number of things the group has planned to address some of the findings. We have strategies around three different levels:
- First, as the survey was conducted among 15 organisations, we will look into the findings and share best practices among this smaller group to help improve our gender diversity.
- Second, we would like to engage more financial institutions to have that conversation. We have shared the findings with 152 banks in Hong Kong through the Hong Kong Association of Banks (HKAB) to help start the conversation.
- Third, we hope to link up with the relevant departments of the HKSAR government to make a broader impact across other industries in Hong Kong. The government is keen to maintain Hong Kong’s position as an international financial center and I think gender diversity might be something that we can work further on.
Fiona’s final point was worth emphasising: “There are incredibly important findings from this report which are specific to Hong Kong. We can share them with other industries and they can take a deep dive through the findings and question whether [these issues] are present in their organisation. There are also fantastic recommendations and I’m sure they can help move the conversation forward.”
Ivy Au Yeung is CEO of Hong Kong at ANZ