Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business and UN Women Successfully Cohosted the 2019 Women in Leadership Forum on Gender Equality
[November 20, 2019 – Beijing] More than 500 attendees and 341,000 live-stream viewers tuned in to the 5th Women in Leadership Forum in Beijing on November 20, 2019. Twenty-six inspiring speakers – including Former Professional Tennis Player Li Na, the New Zealand Ambassador to China, Clare Fearnley, the Swedish Ambassador to China, Helena Sangeland, Chairman and President of BP China, Xiaoping Yang, and General Manager of Baidu APP, Ping Xiaoli – addressed the challenges women face in the workplace and in society.
Co-hosted by Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business (CKGSB) and the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), this year’s forum themed, “The Power of Equality” spotlights the work of inspirational leaders who are bridging the gender gap through their work in government policy, business organizations and the sports industry. Twenty-five years ago, the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the most progressive blueprint for advancing women’s rights, was signed here in the city, adding to the relevance of this year’s event and a reminder that the agenda is still a work in progress.
Distinguished speakers and guests at the 2019 Women in Leadership Forum
As China’s leading business school and an advocate of women business leaders, CKGSB and UN Women sought to create a platform to not only discuss the challenges women face at the top, but to also celebrate those who are actively promoting gender equality at their institutions.
“Over the past 20 years, the global gender gap has only shrunk by 2%. Gender wage gap stands at 20%. Women shoulder the burden of the unpaid care work in our society. We have a long way to go to challenge the stereotype. In a recently published data by the World Economic Forum, only 9% of publicly traded companies in China are women. We believe that strengthening our accountability, our solidarity will help to accelerate the change we need to see and that is why we are here today,” said Smriti Aryal, the Head of the UN Women China Office as she kicked off the event.
Head of the UN Women China Office Smriti Aryal delivering the opening speech
The dialogue on “Fostering Equality through Governance,” brings together women in government to discuss how government policies help to achieve gender parity.
In this regard, Gabrielle Williams, the Minister for Women, Youth and Prevention of Family Violence for the Victorian State Government of Australia, spoke about her efforts to lead the development of Australia’s first Gender Equality Bill that will address systemic causes of gender inequality. The Bill requires the public sector to plan for and report on gender equality in their organizations. “More gender diverse companies outperform less gender diverse companies. When women have more power over their lives, they empower their communities,” said Williams, stating that the bill hopes to address the 11% gender pay gap, and boost women’s workforce participation.
The Hon. Gabrielle Williams delivering her keynote speech
The Swedish Ambassador to China, Helena Sangeland, and the New Zealand Ambassador to China, Clare Fearnley, shared their insights on how their governments are working to bridge the gender gap. Ambassador Fearnley shared the progress New Zealand has made, saying, “We were the first country to give women the vote. We are a country focused on equality and egalitarianism.” However, Ambassador Fearnley went on to say that there is work still left to do, “I grew up assuming there was a forward movement, in terms of inclusion. It’s not necessarily a forward process. We have to work for it and fight for it.”
In Sweden, where gender discrimination in the workplace has been illegal since 1980, gender equality is not only debated but imbued into everything, with the government declaring itself a “feminist” government. Ambassador Sangeland reiterated the importance of mainstreaming gender equality.
The Swedish Ambassador to China Helena Sangeland, and the New Zealand Ambassador to China, Clare Fearnley during their panel discussion
Substantive discussions also took place on the role of women in Africa’s transformation. Hannah Ryder, CEO of Development Reimagined moderated an engaging panel with the Ambassador of Cabo Verde to China, Tania Romualdo, the Ambassador of Kenya to China, Sarah Serem, the Ambassador of Mozambique to China, Maria Gustava and the Ambassador of Sao Tome and Principe to China, Isabel Domingos. The African ambassadors explored traditional and cultural stereotypes and important mechanisms to increasing women’s empowerment in the Africa-China relationship.
“In Cabo Verde, women are in a good place but the challenge is still very huge. In our constitution, there can be no discrimination based on gender.” But Ambassador Romualdo highlighted the social stereotypes of women and biases towards paternity leave and that women still shoulder the majority of childcare and elderly care.
Others Ambassadors shared that their countries were still far away from equal representation on the government level but that progress is being made. “In Sao Tome and Principe, we don’t have equality in the government, in parliament. We don’t have this. But we have [several ministers who are women],” Domingos said.
The Ambassador of Cabo Verde to China, Tania Romualdo, the Ambassador of Kenya to China, Sarah Serem, the Ambassador of Mozambique to China, Maria Gustava and the Ambassador of Sao Tome and Principe to China, Isabel Domingos in a special dialogue discussion
To share insights into the attributes of women leaders, Zhang Xiaomeng, Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior, Associate Dean for EE, and Co-Director of Leadership and Motivation Research Center at CKGSB, presented the latest findings of her research “Chinese Business Executive’s Leadership Transformation.” Based on the survey of 4332 CKGSB students, women leaders are seen as more holistic, empathetic and resilient.
Zhang Xiaomeng, Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior, Associate Dean for EE, and Co-Director of Leadership and Motivation Research Center at CKGSB during her keynote speech
Sharing the progress made in the corporate sector, Yang Xiaoping, Chairman and President of BP China said, “At BP, we have spent a lot of time on how to build up the whole management system, from our vision, to our strategy to our policies to realize diversity and respect diversity, we have been making these efforts for many years. From a historical perspective, we have made progress in all dimensions, we’ve improved the ratio of women in leadership positions and we’ve increased the women on our board from 16-36% since 2014.
Other leaders shared examples of inclusion in their companies from the General Manager of Baidu APP Ping Xiaoli to the Founder and CEO of Teasure Liu Fang, each speaker emphasized the importance to women in tech.
Perhaps the most important topic of equality was addressed in a panel on “The Role of Male Champions in Gender Balance,” with Su Cheng Harris-Simpson, Founder and CEO of SCHSAsia, and Board of Governor of AmCham China, Greg Gilligan, Vice President and Greater China Managing Director for PGA TOUR, Daniel Boyer, General Manager and Greater China and Minister (Commercial) for Australian Trade and Investment Commission at the Australian Embassy, and Daisy Shen, Partner at KPMG Advisory China. The panelists discussed broader initiatives their organizations have adopted to bridge the gender gap to more personal aspects how they share responsibilities in the home, a role often seen as “a women’s job.”
Greg Gilligan, Vice President and Greater China Managing Director for PGA TOUR, Daniel Boyer, General Manager and Greater China and Minister (Commercial) for Australian Trade and Investment Commission at the Australian Embassy, and Daisy Shen, Partner at KPMG Advisory China during their panel discussion
The forum ended with – Achieving Personal Victories – featuring athletes who overcame gender stereotypes to compete on an equal platform, including a special dialogue with Li Na, Former Professional Tennis Player and CKGSB Alumna, who challenged the status quo of Chinese female athletes and was a trailblazer for tennis in China.
As the first Asian player to be inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame, Li Na plans to continue to achieve greater success in her life after tennis. Li said, “In the next few years I plan on working in tennis education and philanthropy. We all have a responsibility. I hope I can influence and reach more people through tennis, we can do a lot more.”
Li Na, Former Professional Tennis Player and CKGSB Alumna during her special dialogue
About the Women in Leadership Forum
The Women in Leadership Forum has become a flagship event jointly held since 2013 by the Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business (CKGSB) and United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN WOMEN). As a platform for empowering female leaders, promoting gender equality in the workplace, celebrating success stories, and offering opportunities to create positive change, the Women in Leadership Forum offers unique insights from distinguished leaders like Sheryl Sandberg (Facebook’s COO), Barbara Woodward (British Ambassador to China), Jan Adams (Former Australian Ambassador to China) and Jean Liu (President of Didi Chuxing Technology Co), among many others.
About Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business (CKGSB)
Established in Beijing in November 2002 with support from the Li Ka Shing Foundation, CKGSB is China’s first faculty-governed and independent business school. CKGSB boasts more than 40 full-time professors, many of whom previously held tenured faculty positions at leading business schools such as Wharton and Yale. Their research has provided the basis for more than 400 case studies of both China-specific and global issues. CKGSB also stands apart for its unmatched alumni network. More than half of CKGSB’s 13,000+ alumni are at the CEO or Chairman level and, collectively, they lead one fourth of China’s 100 most valuable brands.
Headquartered in Beijing, CKGSB is also located in Shanghai, Shenzhen, New York, Hong Kong and London. The school offers the following innovative courses: MBA, Part-time MBA, Executive MBA, Master of Entrepreneurship and Technology Innovation (METI), Business Scholars Program, Chuang Community and Executive Education programs in several languages.
For more information, please visit https://english.ckgsb.edu.cn/.
About UN Women China Office
UN Women is the UN organization dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women. A global champion for women and girls, UN Women was established to accelerate progress on meeting their needs worldwide. Working in China since 1998, UN Women provides technical and financial assistance to innovative programmes and strategies for gender equality and women’s empowerment. UN Women’s China Office in Beijing supports and carries out work on (i) enhancing women’s economic empowerment; (ii) providing support for advancing normative agenda on gender equality and women’s empowerment, particularly to address gender based violence and discrimination; and (iii) innovative partnerships to address gender issues in China and bring good practices from China to other countries globally. In addition to the above, UN Women also actively participates and contributes to various UN inter-agency processes and collaborates with UN organizations around specific programme areas.