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Gender Equity Conference - Retaining & Returning Female Talent in HK

Posted on 8/08/2016 by Marie Swarbreck

On September 29, the first Gender Equity Conference will take place at Butterfields in Taikoo Place. It is a unique platform for professional women keen to return to the workforce or change companies, to learn more about what Hong Kong based companies are doing to offer their employees a better work-life balance. As mothers we all know how important it is for ourselves and for our children and family to find a good balance between the two. We want to be successful professionally and as a parent. 

Take advantage of this great conference to learn from the executives themselves about what flexibility they are offering and at the same time get a chance to meet with them during a networking cocktail.

To register click here.

In the coming weeks, we will publish short Q&As we held with the panelists and moderators. 

Meet panelist #1

Geoff Wilson, COO of KPMG Asia Pacific and International Ambassador of Male Champions of Change.

 Question 1 – Can you introduce yourself in a couple of sentences? 

• Australian living in Hong Kong since October 2013. 

• Family – wife Alison. Three sons (2 in Sydney, 1 in London; 2 Chartered Accountants and 1 UX Designer). 

• Career - CEO of KPMG Australia and now Chief Operating Officer of KPMG in Asia Pacific. Also Regional Head of Markets. Previously completed secondment to KPMG Silicon Valley with family for 3 years – life changing! 

• Interests – Sports fan and looking forward to Rio Olympics and keen golfer. Particular passions include diversity & inclusion, Reconciliation with Indigenous Australians, education & technology! 


Question 2 – Why is Gender Equity important? 

To me it’s simple. Gender equality is clearly about doing the right thing. I believe it’s a basic human right. But it’s more than that – it’s the bright thing to do. It’s smart for business and society. 

Talent is clearly shared 50:50 between men and women. 

Any group of people which is not 50:50 is arguably not the most talented group available, to deal with business issues, solve complex problems, or most importantly to innovate. 

The business case is strong with research showing diversity in the workplace and increasing women in leadership lead to higher company profitability and productivity. 


Question 3 – As a senior business leader how have you supported Gender Equity? 

I was fortunate to lead a gender diversity change program as CEO of KPMG Australia. It became mainstream conversation for both men and women with a variety of training programs and workshops focused on practical ways for advancing women into leadership. 

The one initiative I’m most proud of is when the Board agreed to gender targets for women in the partnership and women in leadership. 

Today KPMG Australia is an Employer of Choice for Gender Equality. 

In Asia Pacific I’ve noticed a strongly growing interest and focus on workplace gender diversity and women in leadership. 

I believe the issue is increasingly becoming a standing item on the strategic agenda for many regional corporate Boards and their Executive teams.

Governments around the region are also recognising the economic importance of gender diversity to national growth and productivity and they are beginning to develop constructive policies that support empowerment of women. 

In Hong Kong, I am contributing to our leadership through WCD (Women Corporate Director) bringing senior women on Boards together to foster greater Board diversity, and involvement through TWF and the Male Allies initiative. 


Question 4 – Who are the Male Champions of Change and what do they do? 

Male Champions of Change is a group of CEO’s and Board Chairs from Australia’s largest and most influential companies. They have a collective and individual commitment to gender equity and women in leadership. 

It was launched in 2011 by Elizabeth Broderick, Australia’s Human Rights Commissioner, and put gender diversity squarely on the Executive Strategic Agenda. I was fortunate to be invited to join this group of passionate leaders. 

Many great ideas have emerged, but the best part for me is the increased sense of peer pressure to act and to start a new productive and inclusive conversation about gender diversity, having an impact and driving change. 

Men are now talking to men more freely about why it’s a business priority. 

What’s really exciting is that we’re developing plans to launch Male Champions of Change in Asia Pacific.