As The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals states, “gender equality is not only a fundamental human right, but a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world.”
In the corporate sphere, the same principles hold: research has shown that companies committed to robust gender diversity policy and practice achieve superior financial results, Morningstar said in a report.
Regionally, the US, Hong Kong, and Japan are the lowest scoring markets for gender diversity in the Morningstar Gender Diversity indexes.
In the US, just 5% of companies report on their gender pay gap. In Hong Kong it is 4% and in Japan 2%.
Hong Kong does score well for gender balance in its workforce, with roughly 40% female representation. Gender diversity within Japanese companies is the lowest of the developed markets studied by Equileap, a specialist researcher.
“Women have fared poorly over the past two years during the Covid-19 pandemic. From exposure to the virus as frontline workers to rising domestic violence to shouldering the family care burden, women have been disproportionately affected across the globe,” Dan Lefkovitz, Morningstar’s index strategist, said.
“Companies that create inclusive cultures are tapping into the labour force’s full talent pool while benefitting from cognitive diversity. They are not only advancing the cause of human rights but could also be maximising shareholder value,” Lefkovitz added.
Morningstar uses the four categories of the Euileap Gender Equality Scorecard as screening criteria to award companies an overall score based on their commitment to equality in the workplace. All companies are given a gender equality criteria based on the 19 criteria grouped in four categories.
Sector-wise, utilities tend to score well for gender diversity at the board level, for training and career development, and inclusive recruitment. Meanwhile, the technology sector struggles with female representation and has a history of sexual harassment.
High scorers in Asia
Asian companies that score well for gender diversity and receive above-market weight in the indexes:
Hang Seng Bank, Hong Kong-based, scores well for female representation across all levels of its workforce—the general employee base, management, executives, and the board of directors. It also offers parental leave and flexible work options, which promote gender diversity.
CLP Holdings of Hong Kong stands out for its anti-abuse policies and its efforts in the areas of career development, employee training, and equal opportunity. The utility receives partial credit for gender diversity within its workforce and for its parental leave and work flexibility policies.
NTT Data of Japan scores decently on representation, especially across its workforce at large. The IT service provider’s policies promote equality within its business and its supply chain. It offers parental leave and flexible work.
City Developments of Singapore scores well for female representation within its executive and management ranks. The property business has strong policies to promote employee development and combat abuse. It offers parental leave and flexible work and scores well for promoting diversity within its supply chain.