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Now is the time for women to shine, say Harvey Nash and HKU

Upcoming Women's Directorship Programme provides insights to help female leaders avoid being set up to fail during times of change.

Hong Kong, 4 October 2016 - With women leaders increasingly being called upon to make a positive change, Harvey Nash, the global executive search and leadership consulting firm, and The University of Hong Kong Business School (HKU), have again joined forces to launch the Women's Directorship Programme 2017, helping women to break the glass ceiling and support the development of female talent. 

An increasing number of women are moving into positions of leadership. Theresa May now leads Britain, Angela Merkel was highlighted as the second most powerful person in the world by Forbes in 2015, and Hilary Clinton is the first female presidential candidate for a major party in the United States. While women are taking up an increasing number of high-profile roles, many of them have been selected to lead at moments of crisis or periods of weak performance, for example Marissa Mayer, in a phenomenon known as the 'glass cliff'. Harvey Nash and HKU are supporting women to shine in these roles and ensuring they are not being set up to fail. 

A 2013 study found that Fortune 500 companies with weak performance were more likely to promote women and minorities to CEO or board level. Researchers also speak of 'status quo bias,' where organisations only see a need to change patterns of male leadership if they are facing times of trouble. Rectifying this situation is one of the goals of the upcoming Women's Directorship Programme, organised by Harvey Nash and The University of Hong Kong Business School (HKU). Covering two three-day sessions in May and September 2017, the event is designed to unlock the full potential of female executive talent in the international workforce and help them to shine. Initiatives such as the Women's Directorship Programme are essential, as they take aim at negative practices and turn them into opportunities for women to step up and take on leadership roles in any situation.

Kirti Lad, Director of the Board Practice, Harvey Nash Executive Search APAC and co-founder of the Women's Directorship Programme, said: "This so-called 'status quo bias,' makes it much tougher for newly promoted women to prove their talents. The Women's Directorship Programme, in partnership with The University of Hong Kong, demonstrates Harvey Nash's commitment to developing the global female talent pool and arming women with the ability to succeed in any situation. By empowering female leaders to gain the confidence and skills needed to secure board positions, we can have a lasting impact on the representation of women in leadership roles across the world."

Now in its fifth year, the Women's Directorship Programme has already had an impact, with thirty per cent of the programme's alumni having since gained their first boardroom position, serving to make a lasting impact on the worldwide business community. 

The programme is supported by senior business leaders, including Donald Brydon, Chairman of the London Stock Exchange, Rick Haythornthwaite, Chairman of Centrica and MasterCard and Raymond Ch'ien, Chairman of Hang Seng Bank, and a distinguished alumni network.

Donald Brydon, Chairman of the London Stock Exchange and Sage Group, Guest Speaker on the Women's Directorship Programme, said: "Whilst we still have a long way to go in achieving boardroom equality, women are increasingly stepping into roles of power and influence. We need to ensure that when female leaders do break through the 'glass ceiling', they have the skills to thrive and make a lasting impact. The Women's Directorship Programme is a catalyst for this change, bringing together academia and practitioners to share their wealth of knowledge and experiences, so that female leaders can excel."

The 2017 Women's Directorship Programme includes six modules, taught over two three-day sessions (May 25-27 and September 14-16, 2017):  
Audit and Remuneration Essentials
Strategic Leadership and Networks
Persuasive Communication and Conflict Resolution 
Stock Exchange Rules and Market Regulations
Ethics and Compliance 
Board Simulation exercise - led by Donald Brydon, Chairman of the LSE and Sage Group 

Professor Larry Qiu, Director of Executive Education, HKU Business School, said: "The Women's Directorship Programme enables participants from different business sectors and cultures to develop the communication and management skills required to face the challenges of the boardroom.. By giving the participants access to boardroom insights and experiences of world business leaders, the programme ensures female leaders avoid the perils of the 'glass cliff' and sets them up for success." 
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About the Women's Directorship Programme:

Established in 2013, the Women's Directorship Programme (WDP) is a joint venture between Harvey Nash and The University of Hong Kong, HKU Business School. The certificated programme is designed to equip participants with the skills and knowledge needed to demonstrate they are ready for the responsibilities of the boardroom as a director or non-executive director.  Participants from broad ranging markets and business sectors, including banking and finance, telecoms, insurance, communications and logistics, have taken part in the programme to date.

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About Harvey Nash: 

Established in 1988, Harvey Nash has supported many of the world's leading organisations to recruit, source and manage the highly skilled talent they need to succeed in an increasingly competitive and technology driven world.  With over 4,000 professionals in more than 40 offices across the USA, Europe and Asia, the Group has the reach and resources of a global organisation, whilst fostering a culture of innovation and agility that empowers its people to respond to constantly changing client needs. We work with clients, both large and small, to deliver a portfolio of services: executive search, professional recruitment and outsourcing. 
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About Executive Education, HKU Business School:

Established in 1998 under the auspices of the HKU Business School of the University of Hong Kong, Executive Education specialises in providing Executive Programmes to executives of local, regional and international private and public organisations.  HKU Business School is a leading institution for business and economics education and research in Asia offering top quality degree programmes and executive education programmes that serve the needs of the business sector and the community. 

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Media Relations contacts:

Sophie Gray
Director of Marketing and Communications, APAC
Harvey Nash
Office: +852 3199 6942 / Mobile: +852 6696 1141

Muns Ip
Manager of Marketing and Communications, APAC
Harvey Nash
Office: +852 3199 6956 / Mobile: +852 9210 6009

Helen Wong 
Faculty of Business and Economics
The University of Hong Kong
Office: +852 3917 4311 / Mobile: +852 6199 6988