A first-of-its-kind gender equality ranking of leading companies in Japan, Hong Kong, and Singapore

2019.3.22

TOKYO, 22 March 2019 – It is a moral imperative that we work towards a society wherein both men and women are provided with an equal opportunity to thrive. As countless studies have shown, advancing gender equality is not just a good thing to do, it is the smart thing to do, given the wide ranging economic and social benefits that come along with an equitable society. Nevertheless, countries in Asia are falling behind, and women experience barriers to participating in the economy at their full potential. Measuring how well companies perform in offering equal opportunities to all employees regardless of their gender is an important way to identify the root causes and to tackle the high levels of gender discrimination in Asian societies.

The Sasakawa Peace Foundation has commissioned Equileap, a leading organization providing data and insights on gender equality in the corporate sector, to evaluate and compare the gender equality performance of 100 leading public companies in three advanced economies in Asia: Japan, Hong Kong, and Singapore. This special report ranks the top 100 companies for their gender equality practices and compares them against a global benchmark composed of the top 200 companies that are leading the way for gender equality across the globe. For this special report, Equileap used the universe of companies underlying its 2018 Gender Equality Global Report & Ranking, which includes over 3,000 companies globally and 745 companies in the 3 countries with a market capitalisation of over 2 billion USD. Equileap then analysed and ranked the top 100 companies in Japan, Hong Kong, and Singapore.

Of the top 100, companies in Singapore are best performing with an aggregate score of 42%, with Japan and Hong Kong trailing at 35% and 29%, respectively. However, the gender equality performance of the top firms in all three countries is significantly lower than the global benchmark of 53%. The report also identifies that none of the top 100 companies have achieved gender balance (between 40% - 60% of each gender) in the upper levels of management, namely senior management, executive staff, and board members.

The report highlights the significant lack of transparency among firms in Japan, Hong Kong, and Singapore in their gender equality practices, with only 10% of companies reporting on gender-segregated pay information and only 16% having an anti-sexual harassment policy.

StarHub, a Singapore based telecommunications company, ranks first with a score of 53%. Singapore leads the pack with six other companies in the top 10, followed by two companies from Hong Kong and one from Japan. With 56 companies in the top 100, Hong Kong occupies the largest share of firms with Li & Fung scoring the highest. On the other hand, in Japan – the largest economy among the three with 438 firms eligible for ranking – only 24 have made it to the top 100. The best performing Japanese companies are Shiseido, Japan Airlines, and Takeda Pharmaceuticals.

Diana van Maasdijk, CEO at Equileap, explains: "This research pinpoints strengths and weaknesses of leading companies in three major Asian economies, thus providing a baseline for companies to improve their performance and evidence to enable policy makers to design new, effective measures on gender equality, and lastly a foundation for the creation of gender-lens investment products locally."

The Gender Equality Bureau of the Cabinet Office, Government of Japan commented: "This is the first report that highlights the levels of gender equality among Japanese companies in comparison with other Asian corporations and we appreciate the initiative of the Sasakawa Peace Foundation. The government is in the process of reviewing the Act on Promotion of Women's Participation and Advancement in the Workplace to promote corporate information disclosure about women's advancement and is researching about the relevant factors that institutional investors would look for when pursuing ESG analysis. This special report is hence in line with the government's activities to pursue women's advancement. Through such efforts, we look forward to seeing further acceleration among Japanese corporations towards the promotion of gender equality in the workplace."

Nobuo Tanaka, chairman of the Sasakawa Peace Foundation, further emphasized: "We hope this ranking will motivate many companies in Asia to publicize gender disaggregated data and as a result improve their performance in relation to gender equality."

About the Sasakawa Peace Foundation

The Sasakawa Peace Foundation (SPF) is a Japanese private foundation established in 1986 with an endowment from the Nippon Foundation to enhance international cooperation. After merging with the Ocean Policy Research Foundation in 2015, SPF has set its focus on five key areas: addressing a variety of societal challenges that fast-emerging Asian countries currently face, stimulating greater socioeconomic progress through women's empowerment, promoting understanding and strengthen relationships with Muslim-majority countries, further strengthening Japan–U.S. relations, and developing programs to promote the long-term sustainability of the world's oceans.

In 2017, SPF carved out about 100 million USD from its endowment to establish the Asia Women Impact Fund. The Asia Women Impact Fund envisions a future where all women in Asia are empowered to reach their full potential. The fund aims to realize this vision by making investments to achieve favourable outcomes for women across Asia and to support women entrepreneurs in Southeast Asia.

About Equileap

Equileap is an organisation aiming to accelerate progress towards gender equality in the workplace, using the power of investments, grants and knowledge. Headquartered in Amsterdam and London, the organisation is a registered charity and all profits are used to support women through social impact projects that tackle the root causes of gender inequality. Equileap is the leading organisation providing data and insights on gender equality in the corporate sector. Products & services are tailored for companies, governments and investors. To date, USD 620 million has been invested in financial products powered by Equileap data.

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