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Advancing Hong Kong's focus on achieving greater gender balance in the workforce


Diversity is not seen as a business priority in Hong Kong

More than half of Hong Kong companies are not even actively tracking their female talent pipeline data – of the 200 companies engaged in the study, just over a quarter are tracking their female talent.  Despite gender diversity being considered as a business imperative on the worldwide stage, a declining birth rate and aging population in Hong Kong, companies in the SAR seem intent on continuing to underutilize a valuable core segment of the workforce – women.


Only 45% have made a formal commitment to improving the representation of women in the workforce.


Large corporates losing out in the war for senior female talent

Large organizations employing more than 500 people in Hong Kong have an average of 22% female representation at senior management level, in comparison to small organizations (those employing less than 50 people) at 61% female senior management representation.


Smaller companies in Hong Kong are benefitting from this trend due to the flexibility and stretch opportunities they can offer.  They are attracting senior female talent who require greater flexibility and control of their time and an increasing desire to be part of a culture where their contribution and potential is valued.


Losing female talent is accepted

The study has captured Hong Kong's systemic bias – losing women from the talent pipeline is seen as acceptable.

On average, companies in Hong Kong see a 24% decline in female representation in their workforce from total representation to senior management.  There is an attitude that this is acceptable.  Many companies don’t recognize they have a problem with the management of the female talent pipeline, yet in reality only 28% exceeded the Hong Kong average across all levels of management.


9 out of every 10 HK women face career barriers 

9 out of every 10 Hong Kong women report barriers to reaching their career aspirations:  We surveyed over 100 women at different stages of their career. From family commitments, to a lack of promotional opportunities in their companies / industries and not being recognised and valued, women in Hong Kong share their stories of the uneven playing field they face.

The University of Hong Kong, Faculty of Business and Economics (HKU FBE) in partnership with Meraki Executive Search & Consulting, today announce the results of the Hong Kong Female Talent Pipeline Study, to coincide with International Women’s Day 2019, striving for #balanceforbetter.


On a day when the world’s attention is focused on women, the Hong Kong Female Talent Pipeline Study reveals the true extent of the situation facing women in the Hong Kong workplace and the retention and hiring challenges facing employers.  


On average, Hong Kong companies stand to lose 24% of their female talent over the course of their careers, representing a huge opportunity cost (from 53% total workforce female representation to 29% at senior management level). 











“The fall out of female talent is a well-known challenge, but through this study, we have taken a magnifying glass to Hong Kong’s female talent pipeline, investigating a number of key industries. The picture is stark” said Kirti Lad, Executive Director, Meraki Executive Search & Consulting.  “The study has captured the systemic bias that exists in Hong Kong – many companies appear comfortable with having so few women at senior level. This is what we found most shocking and we hope the data will serve as a wake-up call to the Hong Kong business community to take action. Although the majority know they need to do more to address the issue, many are still finding it a challenge to transform the business culture to one of inclusion. We also recognise the efforts of some companies in challenging the status quo of how we engage, empower and develop diverse talent - this we applaud and encourage more of these behaviours.”  


Prof. Haipeng Shen, Associate Dean, Executive Education, The University of Hong Kong, said:“As an institution at the heart of Hong Kong we are committed to ensuring the ongoing progress of our city.  At The University of Hong Kong, we see 54% 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%. 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.  Typically, local Hong Kong companies are behind the curve in terms of seeing diversity as a business priority.  It’s time for change. As a first step, all Hong Kong companies need to ensure their female talent pipeline data is tracked.”

For more key findings:

Industry key findings:

Insights from TWFHK:

Leading practice:


More data and insights will be shared from the study in due course.  For a copy of the key findings report please contact us below.

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Thank you for requesting a copy of the report - Hong Kong's Female Talent Pipeline.

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