PIONEER INITIATIVE TO BRING ALL SECTORS ON FAMILY FRIENDLY POLICIES AT WORKPLACE
Hong Kong as one of the most well developed global financial centers is far lagging behind in terms of female participants in the workforce especially at the senior level. Only 1 in 7 board of directors of HKEx listed companies is female that is far behind other developed countries in the region. In 2017 only 55% of the women in Hong Kong are in the workforce comparing to Mainland China (61.5%), Singapore (59.8%) and Japan (69.7%). Gender biases, social and family pressures for women to be primary carers, and the lack of work-life balance are among some reasons why women don’t stay in the workforce.
On May 10, the first ever roundtable event in Hong Kong to bring together stakeholders from governmental, civil, corporate, social and professional sectors to discuss and to put forward more family friendly workplaces in Hong Kong. The event was kicked off by the conveyer of the event, Hong Kong Momtrepreneurs Founder, Ms. Lena Wong, shared her own career challenge with the dilemma of choosing full commitment to career or completed dedication to family. “My options seem limited, either I am a 24/7 mother or I am a fully committed professional in the battle field,” remarked Wong at the Opening.
A diverse panel was invited to drill into the issues and challenges of having family friendly workplaces in Hong Kong. Ms. Fiona Nott of The Women’s Foundation, Ms. Sindy Leung of HK Association of Business and Professional Women, Prof. Joyce L. C. Ma of The Chinese University of Hong Kong and Ms. Eunice Yung of Legislative Council of Hong Kong moderated by Ms. Tonia Wong Kee of Bank of America. The panel brought inspiration from government intervention to corporate involvement as well as the social and civil sectors participations.
The recent proposal from one of the professional bodies to provide financial subsidy to their members in supporting for their maternity and paternity leave was a good start. “We (Barristers) are not entitled to any paid maternity leave as we are self employed; yet we still have to pay for the chamber overhead while being away from the job when the baby was born,” Legislative Council member, also a barrister, Yung shared, “Although it is still in consulting period, I look forward to see how this may bring positive effects to other professional bodies.”
Family friendly policies do not only consider those who have children; family care also include elderly care. “Women are often the major caretakers in any household so we often see many women left their career not only for the children but also for the aging elderly at home,” said, Nott, CEO of The Women’s Foundation which recently launched a report of “Eldercare Hong Kong: The Projected Societal Cost of Eldercare in Hong Kong 2018 – 2060”. With the population of eldercare recipients set to more than double from 5% to 11% by 2060, the cost to society will increase by 6 times from HK$38.8 billion to HK$222.4 billion and the cost to individuals quadruple from HK$1.8 billion to HK$7.2 billion, with women sharing a greater proportion of the cost as 62% of caregivers are expected to be women in 2060.
The event wrapped up with a full participations from the audiences which also were invited to take part and discuss on the real actions each stakeholders can do in bringing Hong Kong more family friendly workplaces. “Being the first employee in the office being pregnant and giving birth, I had 10 month to plan and to discuss with my boss about what I may need at the office including a nursing room and flexible working hour,” suggested by one participant from the social innovation sector, “an employee also needs to be vocal about your need and communicate well with the management. At the end you also have a responsibility to fight for your own rights.”
With participants from various sectors and diverse background, the Future Work in Hong Kong was well received and concluded with practical plan of actions each could bring home. This pioneer initiative was conveyed by Hong Kong Momtrepreneurs, a non profit organization supporting moms and families by educating entrepreneurship and engaging children’s involvement in parents’ works. Advocacy on policies regarding women empowerment and family issues is among one of the missions of the organization.
For more information on the organizer, please visit: www.hkmomtrepreneurs.com
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Hong Kong Momtrepreneurs Limited
For event photos: CLICK HERE