Case Study: Hongkong Land

Hong Kong
1,500 Employees
0 women on executive leadership team, multiple women at senior manager level
Visible and Challenging Job Assignments
An Inclusive Culture
Leadership Training
Objective Hiring, Performance Reviews, and Promotion

Founded in 1889, Hongkong Land is one of Asia’s oldest, most established property groups. The company has weathered many different economic climates and has evolved to build a strong real estate portfolio, primarily consisting of office and retail buildings, in Hong Kong and other key Asian cities.

While Hongkong Land does not have any women on its management board, it does have a number of women at the general manager level and at the next highest rank, the senior manager level. Overall, the company is 40 percent women at the managerial level. These numbers indicate a pipeline of women who could potentially grow into leaders in the company over the coming years.

For employees who show high potential at any level, an opportunity to participate in the Jardine Matheson[1] leadership program exists. Individuals are nominated for this program by their department heads and then, depending on the structure of the program, participate in classroom training and work on special projects about the real estate industry. Some programs span several months, while others are structured to take place over the course of one week.

Iris Chan, an asset manager for Hong Kong Commercial Property, participated in the Jardine Matheson leadership program and felt she learned a great deal from the program’s classroom trainings. In Chan’s experience, the support she receives from leadership to further her education by obtaining professional certificates, and the company’s open, communicative culture, are informal approaches that have helped her achieve success during the ten years she has worked at Hongkong Land.

Chan also attributes her success, and the success of other women at Hongkong Land, to a relentless commitment to the job and a strong sense of professionalism. These themes come up a lot at Hongkong Land. Wendy Chim, a senior property manager who has been at Hongkong Land for nine years, says of the company, “We advocate equality of men and women. As long as you have a great background and are professional, we’ll give you opportunity.” Chim takes it upon herself to develop her employees, and particularly the women she manages, providing them with opportunities to work in stretch roles that will push them to have new experiences and develop different skills.

In terms of the overall company and its ability to provide career growth and development to women, Chim suggests that Hongkong Land can continue exploring the addition of child care support tools, such as on-site nursing rooms, and could offer flexible work arrangements.

Furthermore, the company’s expansion outside Hong Kong, and particularly into China, has been and could continue to be a critical strategic shift for Hongkong Land, since the Hong Kong real estate market is very mature. Not only has this shift allowed the company to continue on a growth trajectory, but it may also be the key to offering enhanced career growth opportunities to women within the company. Stephanie Wong, assistant asset manager, and Raif Chan, an assistant property manager, emphasize this point, saying that mobility to Mainland China or South Asia will be the best way for women to achieve career development and growth.

Yet both women acknowledge that moving from Hong Kong to China or another country in Asia can be a difficult decision for women to make, especially if they have family commitments in Hong Kong. Raif says that, for those women who want to advance within Hong Kong, one of the benefits to working at Hongkong Land is that there are many employees who have worked at the company for 20 to 30 years and are eager to educate new people.

Through the ongoing exploration and addition of resources to support the balance of work and family, as well as a continued focus on bringing women up through the talent pipeline and getting them the best career experiences—either in Hong Kong or in a high-growth region such as China—Hongkong Land is making strides toward growing its female workforce.

[1] Jardine Matheson is a diversified Asia-based group composed of a broad portfolio of leading businesses. Founded in China in 1832, it now primarily operates in Greater China and Southeast Asia. Hongkong Land is a member of Jardine Matheson. As such, employees are able to participate in its leadership development programs.

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