Bloomberg People and Performance - Diversity and Inclusion, Hong Kong

3 Minutes

Bloomberg’s People and Performance series, hosted in partnership with Elliott Scott HR and s...

By Phillip Welburn

Managing Director, Asia Pacific

Bloomberg’s People and Performance series, hosted in partnership with Elliott Scott HR and spearheaded by Jig Ramji, Regional HR Leader, was held in Hong Kong on Wednesday 13th July.

Launched in 2015, this is the sixth event in the series and marks the third event of 2016. The event provided the opportunity for over 80 senior-level HR professionals to network over drinks and canapés, before hearing insights from thought leaders on the challenges most pertinent for HR in the region.

The theme was on diversity and inclusion in Hong Kong.

The audience heard perspectives from the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) on their current and anticipated guidelines. Speakers from different organisations then discussed how they address the challenges surrounding D&I within their own businesses.

Hayden Majajas, Bloomberg’s APAC Head of D&I, moderated the event, which began with a unique opportunity to hear from Professor Alfred Chan Cheung-ming, SBS, JP, Chairperson of the Equal Opportunities Commission. Professor Chan focused on Hong Kong’s ageing demographic. With nearly 40% of Hong Kong’s population over 50 years old, he believes that asking mature workers to retire between 50 and 60 is a waste of their wisdom, skills and capability. As Hong Kong turns into a more knowledge-based economy, training mature workers is an opportunity to utilise their experience and extend their contribution to our economy.

He also raised the issue of how the rich-poor divide disproportionately disadvantages elderly women. With the average lifespan of a woman being longer than men, women who retire are often not well supported economically into old age. Professor Chan explained that the EOC will be focused on new policies and increasing the retirement age to help combat these issues.

A panel discussion followed, including Roula Rozakeas, Senior Vice President, Human Resources, Asia Pacific at LVMH, and Emily Smith, COO at Elliott Scott Group. The conversation addressed the challenge organisations in Asia face not only in promoting gender diversity, but also gender equality at all levels across the business. Women tend to lose representation the higher you go up the corporate ladder, yet with the majority of spending decisions typically made by women, consumer organisations need to consider how closely their leadership teams mirror their respective customer base. The response to the gender equality challenge doesn’t have to be quota driven. Organisations can also focus on initiatives such as flexible working and specific coaching programs to enable women to clearly articulate and achieve their ambitions.

Women returning to the workforce was another focus of the panel. Emily noted that in Japan, 70% of women who have a family take more than 10 years out of the workplace. Comparatively, factors such as support from extended family, as well as access to affordable child-care, make women more likely to return to work in Hong Kong, despite considerably less maternity leave entitlement. Providing specific training to managers on how they can best support a returning-to-work mother is important and many organisations fail to do this While Hong Kong is a mature market in Asia, Professor Chan noted that it is often a place where business comes first, meaning policies that support family-friendly work environments have lagged behind. The government recently implemented a policy requiring organisations to provide a space for breastfeeding for returning-to-work mothers, which may help pave the way.

The panel concluded with questions from the audience followed by an opportunity to network. In their closing comments, the panellists offered one piece of advice for how organisations can create a more diverse and inclusive workforce. Professor Chan encouraged organisations to hire people based on their talent and capabilities, #regardlessofage. Emily noted that organisations need to #equipyourmanagers as they play a critical role in supporting women returning to the workforce while Roula advised on building awareness, empowerment and dialogue.

Elliott Scott HR would like to thank Bloomberg and the speakers for their contribution to making the event a success.

To find out when the next event will be held, or for more information, please contact Group Marketing and Communications Manager, Malinda Zerefos atmz@elliottscotthr.com.