Family commitments hold women back from leadership positions, say 56% of female professionals in Hong Kong

56% of female professionals in Hong Kong believe that family pressures or commitments outside of work is the primary reason for the lack of women in leadership positions in business, according to the latest whitepaper from international recruiter Robert Walters entitled ‘Empowering Women in the Workplace’.

Although women make up almost half of the workforce in many countries, they continue to face issues limiting their career growth trajectory. According to the survey, 80% of female respondents in Asia Pacific (ex-Japan and Korea) thought that women are under-represented at work; only 32% of respondents agreed that women make up more than one-fifth of leadership positions in their organisations. 

Family a key concern for female professionals 

The under-representation of women at work can be attributed to various reasons, such as workplace culture, management preference, and family reasons – a standout factor in Hong Kong. 56% of female professionals cited family pressures and commitments outside of work as the main reason women are under-represented in business (versus 50% in APAC), while 41% cited difficulty returning to work after having children (versus 36% in APAC). 

“As working hours tend to be long in Hong Kong, women often lean back or leave their job to make time for family commitments. This is one of the key reasons for the lack of female leaders in business, and organisations should address this to help retain their top performers,” commented Matthew Bennett, Managing Director – Greater China, Robert Walters. “Some of the measures employers can consider implementing include improved paternity and maternity leave, flexible work arrangements, and policies to attract mothers returning to work.”

Empowering women in the workplace

To unlock the full potential of the workforce, it is also important to identify what helps to develop women in the workplace. In Hong Kong, female professionals believe that the opportunity to network with senior management is the most helpful measure (61%), followed by mentoring and sponsorship at senior management level (58%). 

“As gender diversity has proven to improve team performance and success, leaders at every organisation should take the lead in ensuring that the views and needs of all employees are well-represented. Our research has shown that professionals value the opportunity to interact directly with senior management, companies can consider organising more networking events that allow employees to communicate with different stakeholders in the business,” said Bennett. 

About the report

The whitepaper – ‘Empowering Women in the Workplace’ – surveyed over 4,400 clients and job seekers across APAC (Australia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam). The research explores issues including: career priorities of working professionals, how female leaders are regarded in the workplace, the need for equal representation of female leaders within an organisation, and what companies can do to empower women in their careers. 

Please click to download a full version of the Robert Walters Whitepaper – Empowering Women in the Workplace

For further information or interview requests, please contact Virna Chung on +852 2161 9430 or virna.chung@robertwalters.com.hk.

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