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HSBC Singapore to lift female representation in senior roles to 40% by 2022, up from 30%

HSBC Singapore plans to have 40 per cent of women in its most senior positions by 2022, up from its 30 per cent currently. It has also set a target to have half of its managerial positions to be taken up by women by 2022, the bank said on Thursday.

The bank told The Business Times that it does not disclose or publish gender pay statistics. 

"We do perform reviews to ensure appropriate pay outcomes and make adjustments where required," a HSBC spokesman said.

She added that the bank continues to encourage and promote transparency over performance and pay decisions. It has also implemented several initiatives such as streamlining variable pay, which the bank said would help remove bias from decision making when it comes to salary. 

In a media statement, Tony Cripps, chief executive officer, HSBC Singapore said the bank will also be developing a "structural framework" to remove barriers and encourage equal opportunity.

"Having a diverse workplace is an absolute priority for HSBC Singapore: It lifts performance by embracing different perspectives and it’s simply the right thing to do for our people. Today’s announcement is all about working towards this commitment."

Besides launching programmes to boost group-led female leadership development initiatives, HSBC last year made flexible working programmes a priority.

HSBC joins global banking peers such as Citi and Standard Chartered in committing to a greater female representation ratio in their senior ranks.

Citi Singapore is following its global target of having at least 40 per cent of women assistant vice-president roles and the levels above by 2021. In Singapore, Citi's female representation at assistant vice-president to managing director level roles has increased from 32 per cent in December 2017 to 36 per cent in December 2019. 

Across the Asia-Pacific region, Citi promoted 14 women, or 31 per cent of the total 45 managing directors named in Asia in December 2019. That's up from only eight in 2018, or 21 per cent.

Citi globally also adjusted the pay of women at its bank who, when compared with their male peers of equal work performance, did not receive equal compensation. 

StanChart, which has sizeable operations here, has targeted to have 30 per cent of females in its senior leadership roles by the end of 2020. 

Under legislation that came into force in April 2017, UK employers are required to publish their gender pay gap. StanChart's 2019 gender pay gap report showed that the gap exists due to fewer females than males in senior roles, and in business areas where the market rates of pay are highest.

"We believe that we have fewer females than males in these roles because of a combination of the historical imbalance in gender representation in the financial services industry, and persistent gender biases in workplace and care-giving roles."

As for Singapore banks, DBS and UOB have been recognised in Bloomberg's gender equality index. Female executives at DBS comprise 60 per cent of the bank's employees, 40 per cent of senior management and a third of its group management committee.

Over at UOB, women made up about 60 per cent of its total workforce as at end-2019, and held 35 per cent of senior management positions. Half of the bank's middle management were also women. In 2018, women made up 62.9 per cent of promotions across the bank, UOB noted.

Singapore's Ministry of Manpower released a report in January showing that in Singapore, among full-time workers aged between 25 and 54, the unadjusted gender wage gap inched up from 16 per cent in 2002 to 16.3 per cent in 2018.

When differences in age, education, occupation, industry and the number of hours worked were accounted for, the adjusted gender wage gap fell from 8.8 per cent in 2002 to 6 per cent in 2018.

The ministry's report also showed that there was more occupational segregation in 2018 than in 2002. Not only do women tend to be in lower-paying jobs compared to men, men also continue to be over-represented in higher-paying occupations.