China’s biggest commercial banks lag far behind in gender balance in top positions

China’s largest state-owned commercial banks may have featured in the top ranks of the Forbes Global 2000 annual ranking of the world’s largest publicly traded companies last month, but they don’t do as well when it comes to to promote women in leadership positions.

A new report from Deloitte has found that the top six – Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (No. 1), China Construction Bank (No. 4), Agricultural Bank of China (No. 9), Bank of China (No. 14 ) Postal Saving Bank of China (No. 28) and Bank of Communications (No. 57) – have a total of only four women in senior positions. Management positions are defined as chairman, managing director and deputy managing director. Collectively, the six have a total of 50 senior executives, which means that only 8% of the top positions are held by women.

The results of a survey of 54 banks were presented on Friday at the FutureBoards Cross-Border Dialogue in Shanghai. About a hundred people joined the discussion.

One of the main reasons for this imbalance is a 1978 rule that women should retire at 55, compared to 60 for men, said David Wu, vice president of Deloitte China. Companies prefer to promote a framework that will stay 10 years rather than five. In this environment, “women give up their career endeavors,” Wu said. The problem is not that Chinese men are unwilling to work with female leaders, he noted.

National “joint-stock” commercial banks that have more than one dominant shareholder had an even lower rate of 7.6% of the top positions held by women – 10 banks in the group have a total of only six women in positions. managerial positions, according to figures from Deloitte. Urban commercial banks held 19.8% and rural commercial banks 17%.

The solution, Wu said, requires “conscious” action by institutions to promote more women in the absence of an increase in the national retirement age. Wu said China should require all banks to have at least one woman in a managerial position and raise the retirement age for women to the same level as men.

Women make up 48.9% of China’s 1.4 billion people, according to figures from Deloitte.

Other participants in the event included Lise Nordgaard, Norwegian Consul General in

Shanghai, Lin Jialei, Program Manager for UN Women China, Turid Solvang, Founder of FutureBoards Norway, David Wu, Vice President of Deloitte China, Therese Trulsen, President of the Norwegian Business Association, Jonas Jolle, Co-Head of Governance at Norge Bank Investment Management, Wang Dequan, CEO of Governance Group, Matts Johansen, CEO of Aker Bio Marine, Xiao Lingxiao, chief of staff at McKinsey Greater China, and Charline Liu, founder of Ladies Who Tech. Forbes China, the Chinese edition of Forbes, was a supporter of the media.

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