Korean companies can't seem to find any women for boards

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Korean companies can't seem to find any women for boards

A recruiting company started scrolling through Linkedin after a Korean company requested a list of female director candidates.
Because so few candidates were found in the country, the recruiter had to consider international candidates.  
“Companies prefer people who have actually worked in the field, but there is a very limited list of potential candidates when it comes to women directors,” said a spokesperson for the company.
“We have always looked for professors for director positions before, but we now have to even reach out to international candidates since it’s difficult to find suitable candidates in the country.”
Under a new law, which will be effective next month, listed companies with assets of 2 trillion won ($1.5 billion) or more should appoint at least one woman director.  
There aren’t any specific punishments mentioned but it may serve as a minus factor in the company’s ESG evaluation.
Industries that are normally male-dominated, such as construction and petrochemistry, have mostly appointed professors or lawyers as directors.
Appointing a female director, particularly in this field, is very difficult as the candidate pool is very small due to a limited number of female professors who have studied the area, the recruiter claims. Lawyers with client conflicts are disqualified.
Due to these reasons, many companies have not been able to appoint female directors yet.
According to CEOscore, a company evaluation website, 30 out of 172 listed companies with more than 2 trillion won of assets had all-male boards. Among companies with less than 2 trillion won of assets, only 8.2 percent had at least one woman director.
“It has been only a decade since women started occupying executive positions,” said a human resource employee at a big corporation in Korea.
“There are not many senior executives that are women, so it is difficult to hire female directors when considering factors such as work experience and age.”
In the first quarter, women executives accounted for 6.3 percent out of 14,612 executives in Korea, according to the research agency Leaders Index.
At Samsung Electronics, the biggest company in Korea, 6.5 percent of executives globally are women and 5.5 percent domestically.
Hyundai Motor stood at 4 percent, LG Electronics at 3.8 percent, Posco Holdings 2.9 percent and SK hynix 2.5 percent in the first quarter.  
International companies did better.
Meta had 35.5 percent, Apple 23 percent, Intel 20.7 percent and Taiwan's TSMC 10 percent.
“The EU agreed to impose a 40 percent board gender quota last month, but in Korea, there are even companies that are unable to appoint one female director,” said Kim Woo-Chan, a business professor at Korea University.  
“Female directors should make efforts to create human resource policies that will nurture more female workers.”  

BY BAEK IL-HYUN, CHO JUNG-WOO [cho.jungwoo1@joongang.co.kr]
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