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Harvey Nash tackles gender imbalance in Asia Pacific board rooms

Harvey Nash tackles gender imbalance in Asia Pacific board rooms

Hong Kong,  October 2012 - The Harvey Nash Inspire network has been launched to bring together female leaders across the region to contribute ideas and best practice with the aim of promoting more female leadership. 

Inspire is Harvey Nash's business network of senior board-level women, launched in 2008, which now has over 3,000 members across the UK, Continental Europe, the U.S. and Asia Pacific. The cross-industry network aims to enable members to share knowledge and hear from business leaders, providing a forum for support and career guidance. 

At the inaugural Asia Pacific event on 9th October at the China Club in Hong Kong, more than 40 senior female leaders from across the region, representing a range of sectors - from FMCG, Banking, Technology, Publishing and Education - came together to discuss pressing issues in their industries and to share ideas on how we can encourage more women to become board-ready.  Issues discussed included ensuring enough female candidates are put forward for board level positions and the pressures on women to make tough choices in their careers, particularly in the Asia Pacific region where the balancing act of dual careers and the need for mobility are major issues.

The key note speaker Umran Beba, President Asia Pacific from PepsiCo, shared her experiences and challenges with building a diverse leadership team in the region, as well as her personal views on what else women can do to prepare themselves for the responsibilities of the boardroom.

"In Asia Pacific we see a vast number of exceptional female leaders and we aim to harness their knowledge and expertise for the benefit of future female role models," said Nick Marsh, Managing Director, Harvey Nash Asia Pacific. "We believe the majority of senior male and female Board Directors deem judging candidates solely on merit and providing equal opportunities remains the best way forward in tackling the historic gender imbalance at board level. However, as executive recruiters we see a bottleneck of talent in the middle layers of management; high performing, qualified women who are simply not being offered the chance to pursue a career on the Board - this is an important issue we aim to address through Inspire."

The debate surrounding the changes that can be made to ensure more women reach board level positions was in full swing at the Inspire event with many guests sharing their thoughts with the on-site film crew*
  • 54% of female leaders in the region feel that Asia is behind the West, in terms of diversity and balanced teams (18% felt Asia was advanced and 27% felt it was the same situation) 
  • Respondents felt that in order to drive a change in boardroom gender diversity we need to have more visible role models to inspire the next generation. There is a huge responsibility on current female leaders to pave the way and be vocal about the challenges senior women face
  • The majority of attendees agreed that the drive of a CEO in championing gender diversity is crucial in influencing the organisational culture and altering the current state of play.  Diversity and inclusion has to be led from the top
  • Of those respondents who currently sit on boards, 36% said they didn't feel prepared when they first took on the role, instead they learned on the job.  Board preparedness courses and mentoring programmes were highlighted as useful ways to prepare for the pressures and responsibilities of the boardroom.

"Inspire aims to bring together board leaders from across industries to share knowledge and expertise, resulting in better business," said Kirti Lad, Director at Harvey Nash Asia Pacific and Leader of the regional Inspire network.  "As a platform for change, there is no better forum, as evidenced by the work of Inspire in other regions.  We are committed to making a change and to encourage more women to put themselves forward for board positions and for their companies to get behind them and offer their full support."  

The next Inspire event is planned for early 2013.

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*For access to photographs and the original video footage from the event please contact Ogilvy Public Relations.

To access edited videos from the event please use the following links:
Highlights video: 
Interviews: Part 1   Part 2 

About Inspire:

Established in 2008 and supported by Harvey Nash, Inspire is an executive business network for women at the most senior board level.  The network has over 3,000 members across three continents 

For more information please visit:  

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 4,000 professionals in 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. 

To learn more, please visit 

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Media Relations contacts:

Sophie Gray
Ogilvy Public Relations
Office: +852 2884 8517
Mobile: +852 9384 3226

Angela Kor
Ogilvy Public Relations
Office: +852 2884 8552

Posted on October 31, 2013 8:13 AM |