Hong Kong "Ring the Bell" event highlights business case for gender equality
Author: Aijamal Duishebaeva
Hong Kong — Hong Kong’s main stock exchange and many businesses have demonstrated support for efforts to give women more opportunities and leadership in the private sector.
To celebrate International Women’s Day on 8 March, Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited (HKEX) hosted a market-opening bell ringing ceremony to raise awareness of the pivotal role businesses can play in achieving United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 5 on gender equality and women’s empowerment. About 300 representatives of businesses attended the event.
“Investing in women’s empowerment presents many benefits to business. It means better talent, higher productivity, and more customers”
HKEX committed to further promote gender-friendly business practices in listed companies and announced it had just signed the Women’s Empowerment Principles, a joint initiative of UN Women and UN Global Compact. The principles guide CEOs and companies to promote women’s leadership and opportunities in the workplace, marketplace and community.
HKEX operates the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Futures Exchange. UN Women sees stock exchanges as uniquely positioned to influence capital markets to achieve gender equality.HKEX Chair Laura Cha said: “Diversity is a cornerstone of good corporate governance, and good corporate governance benefits shareholders. Good governance can also play a key role in making Hong Kong an attractive place to do business in, and with. It can reinforce Hong Kong’s reputation as a developed and well-respected international financial centre.”
“Empowering women is not just the right thing to do to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals – it is also a smart thing to do for business. Investing in women’s empowerment presents many benefits to business. It means better talent, higher productivity, and more customers,” said Mohammad Naciri, Regional Director for UN Women Asia and the Pacific, opening the event.
Ivy Au Yeung, CEO of Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited, made a presentation based on a report by PwC and the Women’s Foundation on gender diversity and preconceptions in Hong Kong. She encouraged the financial services sector to move from talking to taking action.
In line with this year’s theme for International Women’s Day, “Think equal, build smart, innovate for change”, #InnovativeChangeMaker fireside chat session was organized with Amy Cho, Hong Kong CEO & Head of Intermediary Clients, Asia Pacific at Schroders, who shared her own story on promoting change and overcoming challenges as a female CEO.
Wom en account for half of Hong Kong’s university enrolment, and nearly half of the city’s entrepreneurs, but only 13 per cent of company board members.
Ring the Bell for Gender Equality 2019 is a joint global initiative among UN Global Compact, UN Women, Sustainable Stock Exchanges Initiative, International Finance Corporation: IFC, World Federation of Exchanges and Women in ETFs.