The Korea Herald


Majority of big listed firms have no women on boards

By Shin Ji-hye

Published : Jan. 19, 2020 - 13:53

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Eight out of 10 listed Korean companies with assets of more than 2 trillion won ($1.7 billion) were found to have no women on their boards of directors, showing that the invisible barrier to top management is still strong, data showed Sunday.

Local corporate tracker found that 114 of the 143 listed companies with total assets of more than 2 trillion won had no female directors based on the lists of executives submitted at general shareholders meetings last year. 

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Hyundai Motor, SK hynix, Posco, Kia Motors, Samsung C&T, Hyundai Steel, LG Electronics, Hyundai Mobis, LG Display, and Korean Air all had all-male boards.

The remaining 29 companies had female directors, but far fewer than the number of men on each board. Twenty-four firms, including SK Telecom, Lotte Shopping, Kakao, Naver, Amorepacific and Hotel Shilla, had one female director each. Samsung Electronics and Shinsegae had two.

From the second half of this year, the companies with assets of more than 2 trillion won are required to appoint a female director under the revised Capital Markets Act, which was passed early this month and will take effect in July. The revised law requires at least one woman to participate on the board of directors.

But companies that violate the provisions will not be punished.

Local business association Korean Business Governance Forum said, “From a corporate governance perspective, gender diversity can reduce errors from uniform collective thinking by breaking away from existing male-centered boards.”

“This leads to improved corporate governance, such as increased board independence, efficient monitoring, and improved corporate performance.”

According to a survey released by the Ministry of Gender Equality & Family in October last year, the total number of executives in listed firms was 29,494. Among them, the number of male executives was 28,595 with an absolute majority. The female executives were 1,199, accounting for 4 percent of the total.

The Gender Equality Minister Lee Jung-ok vowed to pursue policies to increase gender diversity in the enterprise, saying gender balance still lacks in the practical decision-making process in the private sector. 

By Shin Ji-hye (