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Women make up 3.1 percent of top chaebol executives

May 17,2018
Korea’s notorious glass ceiling may be showing a few cracks, though the big picture doesn’t look much different.

The proportion of female executives at Korean conglomerates topped 3 percent last year for the first time, but nearly 7 out of 10 of their subsidiaries didn’t have a single woman in their top ranks.

An analysis of 2017 business reports by 268 subsidiaries of Korea’s top 30 conglomerates by CEO Score, a corporate management information provider, showed that only 274 of 8,835 executives were women. The percentage of women is up 0.6 percentage points from a year ago to 3.1 percent.

Korea is notorious for having one of the toughest glass ceilings in the 29-member Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

The country has ranked at the bottom of the Economist’s OECD glass-ceiling index since the list was introduced in 2012.

Retailers were the most active promoters of women in 2017. Hyundai Department Store Group had the largest proportion of female executives, at 9.5 percent, as 11 out of 116 executives were women. Seven of them were from Handsome, the company’s fashion retail unit, and Hyundai Department Store had three and Hyundai Green Food had one female executive.

Hyundai Department Store Group’s competitor Shinsegae was close behind with 7.9 percent and CJ followed with 7.5 percent.

Other businesses with a relatively high proportion of female executives were KT at 6 percent, Samsung at 5.1 percent, Mirae Asset at 4.3 percent, Kyobo Life Insurance at 3.8 percent, Lotte at 3.6 percent and Hanjin at 3.6 percent.

Nonghyup, LS, Young Ppong, KT&G, S Oil, Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering and Korea Investment Holdings didn’t have a single woman in power. Regulatory filing analysis done by the Financial Supervisory Service also showed there were only three female executives at the country’s top 10 construction companies by revenue as of Wednesday.

Only 80 of the subsidiaries evaluated, or 29.9 percent, had at least one female executive, meaning all the executive posts at 70.1 percent of the companies were held by men.

Handsome had the most women executives, with 53.8 percent, the only company among the 286 surveyed that had more female than male executives.

A separate analysis conducted of the board of directors of 31 conglomerates in March by the JoongAng Ilbo showed that women accounted for a mere 1.6 percent of the 245 directors as of last September.


BY SEO JI-EUN [seo.jieun@joongang.co.kr]


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