Wavestone finds women in start-up sector in Hong Kong drawn by culture

12 July 2018 Consultancy.asia

With women now playing a prominent role in Hong Kong’s flourishing start-up sector, the digitally-minded management firm Wavestone has looked into what insights can be drawn for the corporate world in its effort to attract and retain female talent.

Hong Kong has in recent times established itself as a global centre for innovation, supported by local regulators and attracting the big players of the digital sphere. Earlier this month, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority signed a strategic agreement with the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Abu Dhabi to promote fintech innovation across jurisdictions, while market-shapers such as PwC have been investing in local emerging technologies.

Such a landscape has seen the Hong Kong start-up sector flourish, with the island rapidly welcoming new additions to its more than 2,000 currently active start-up enterprises – as well as, in just 2017 alone, some $1 billion in venture capital investment at an average value of $42 million. A huge factor in Hong Kong’s establishment as a thriving innovation hub has been the participation of women, making up 45% of the local number of entrepreneurs.

In a recent survey report on the role of women in innovation in Hong Kong, and what corporates can learn from start-ups, the global management and digital innovation consultancy Wavestone – which has a primary office in Hong Kong and a partnership presence in Singapore among its 16 locations worldwide – has concluded that the attraction for women to the start-up realm centres on three key motivating factors; culture, flexibility, and career progression.Key drivers for female entrepreneurship in Hong KongWith respect to developing a participative leadership style and culture, the Wavestone report notes five specific points for corporates looking to emulate the success of start-ups in attracting and retaining talent; namely, the creation of a horizontal structure – with the leading reason for women joining start-ups being the active participation in a company’s vision and culture; creating a culture of continuous learning opportunities; giving space to create projects around new ideas; the encouragement of women to be more vocal, and; the demonstration of respect in communication.

In addition, flexible hours and a better work-life balance was cited by 23 percent of the participants in the report survey (which included extensive interviews with start-up founders and industry leaders) as the primary reason for job satisfaction in the start-up sector – with 78 percent in turn saying that their organisations allowed workplace flexibility, such as with flexible hours, remote working possibilities, and a more casual approach to business attire. Lastly, another 21 percent of women identified the simple recognition of their work as a number one factor for feeling more satisfied in the start-up environment.Top reasons for job satisfaction for females in Hong Kong start-upsAs for the founders of start-ups, the triggers cited for females starting their own businesses roughly correlated with the general workplace motivations, with 42 percent stating that they wanted to create a company with a strong vision and culture from scratch, 30 percent saying they desired a more direct impact than possible with a corporate job, and a further 28 percent noting the persistent glass ceiling in inhibiting career progression for ambitious women. As the report adds, only 29% of management positions as of 2016 in Hong Kong were held by women.

These motivations for greater participation by women in leadership in the business environment align with numerous reports in recent times, (along with the constant recent stream of analysis which now clearly demonstrates that leadership diversity drives innovation and profitability), including a BCG report conducted in Vietnam, Singapore, and Malaysia which identified work flexibility and an inclusive environment as key areas for promoting female leadership. And it’s no small matter for corporates; another recent report from McKinsey calculated that enhanced gender equality in the workplace holds a $4.5 trillion potential in collective GDP for the APAC region by 2025.

As the Wavestone report concludes, the analysis indicates that women are important drivers of economic development and innovation, and; “As such, it is worthwhile to explore the motivations of women within the start-up world, and use the outcome of this study to help corporates create and implement similar enablers. This should allow corporates to attract, retain and promote women, and to flourish in the same way as start-ups.” Wavestone, too, is leading from the front, with its US arm increasing its female employee ratio from 15 percent to 21 percent last year – with the keen intention to continue to keep up this trend.

As the Wavestone report concludes, the analysis indicates that women are important drivers of economic development and innovation, and; “As such, it is worthwhile to explore the motivations of women within the start-up world, and use the outcome of this study to help corporates create and implement similar enablers. This should allow corporates to attract, retain and promote women, and to flourish in the same way as start-ups.” Wavestone, too, is leading from the front, with its US arm increasing its female employee ratio from 15 percent to 21 percent last year – with the keen intention to continue to keep up this trend.

Private equity sector in emerging markets massively male-dominated

01 April 2019 Consultancy.asia

China leads the way for gender balance in private equity according to research from global management consultancy Oliver Wyman, but at just fifteen percent of firms it’s a far cry from parity.

Senior private equity and venture capital professionals are by and large all male in both the emerging and developed markets according to a fresh study from global strategy and management consultancy Oliver Wyman, making up nearly 90 percent of the total mix. While China features the highest ratio of female senior decision-makers at 15 percent, that figure drops to 12 percent for the rest of East Asia and just 7 percent in South Asia.

These are just some of the figures revealed in the Oliver Wyman report ‘Moving Toward Gender Balance in Private Equity and Venture Capital’, which in association with the International Finance Corporation and investment firm RockCreek looked into the performance of gender balanced leadership teams – defined as those with at least 30 percent each of men and women – in the private equity and venture capital sector in emerging markets.Percent of Senior Investment Professionals Across Private Equity and Venture Capital who are FemaleAltogether, in respect to both private equity and venture capital firms, only 15 percent were determined to be gender-balanced at the upper-levels – well below the number of all-male-led investment teams which accounted for nearly 70 percent of the cases. As a further breakdown, 16 percent of the teams surveyed were all considered male-dominated, while there were no female-dominated teams noted in the study and just 1 percent found to be all-female-led.

Meanwhile, those receiving investments in emerging markets also tend to be men, with women led-businesses receiving only 8 percent of the deals and less than 10 percent of the investable capital – delivered in median sums which are at around 65 percent of that distributed to male-led businesses. These portfolio companies, also, were found to be mostly imbalanced, with lower than average rates of 20 percent.

“Women are significantly underrepresented as leaders in PE/VC firms, and their lack of representation means that the decision-making teams allocating capital in emerging markets are acutely imbalanced,” state the authors of the Oliver Wyman report. “Our research suggests that this imbalance may not only be reducing the returns of PE/VC firms, but could also be reducing female entrepreneurs’ equal access to capital.Percent of Capital Recipients who are Female by GeographyWomen, of course, remain under-represented in a range of roles across industries, and improving the level of representation has various normative benefits, such as creating stronger role models for future generations. For business, better representation can also have a number of benefits, from additional perspectives to improvements to the bottom line. And such is the case for the private equity sector, with the analysis finding that gender-balanced teams generate as much as 20 percent higher returns.

“Through our research, we have showcased the benefits of making gender balance an organisational priority,” the report concludes. “Moving the PE/VC industry toward gender balance will require action from both general and limited partners, and steps can be taken today by individual organisations interested in changing the male-dominated status quo. Actions taken today can help partners, women-owned and -led businesses, and the PE/VC industry as a whole reap the benefits of gender diversity.”