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HKEX CEO abolishes all-male boards to promote gender diversity

This video is part of: Centre for the New Economy and Society

Bonnie Y Chan, the CEO of HKEX, the operator of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, is spearheading a significant rule change to enhance diversity within Hong Kong’s listed companies.

The importance of diversity

Chan emphasizes the crucial benefits of diversity in the boardroom. "I don't think we need to debate the benefit of having diversity in the boardroom.

It is important because it will prevent groupthink," she states. Boards of directors face problem-solving on a daily basis, and having a diversity of views is essential for effective decision-making.

Focus on gender diversity

One of the primary focuses in Hong Kong has been on gender diversity. Upon reviewing the situation, Chan and her team recognized substantial work was needed. At that time, with approximately 2,600 listed companies, about 800 had single-gender boards. This data highlighted the urgent need for change.

In response, the Hong Kong Stock Exchange took an unusual but decisive step. In 2022, it banned all single-gender boards, granting companies until the end of 2024 to comply. "I am conscious that different markets have different needs, and some other markets may choose a slightly more moderate approach. But we decided maybe we do need to whip the stick a little bit," Chan explains.

Positive outcomes

The bold moves are already yielding positive results. The number of single-gender boards has significantly reduced from about 800 to less than 400. This change has created 400 new positions for female directors, which Chan considers a notable achievement.

Globally, women occupy less than a quarter of C-suite roles. At the current rate of progress, it will take 152 years to close the global gender gap in economic participation and opportunity.

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