S. Korean women comprise 3.6% of top corporate executives

Posted on : 2019-10-30 16:52 KST Modified on : 2019-10-30 17:00 KST
44 of 100 companies don’t have a single female executive

Women account for just 3.6% of executives at South Korea’s top 100 companies this year, a new survey has found. Though this represented a 0.4 percentage point year-on-year increase, the figure remains below 5%, indicating that the glass ceiling is still in place. Among affiliates at the four largest conglomerates, Samsung Electronics was a little higher than average, at 5.2%, but there were only a handful of female executives at Hyundai Motor Company (0.9%) and LG Electronics (2.1%).

Companies with highest proportion of female executives
Companies with highest proportion of female executives

An analysis of the semi-annual reports of Korea’s 100 largest public companies (in terms of sales) released by recruitment firm Unico Search on Oct. 29 found that there were 244 female executives, only 3.6% of the total of 6,932 executives (not including members of the controlling family or outside directors). Although the tally has increased 18 fold over the past 15 years since the survey was begun in 2004, it’s still stuck below 5%. Even worse, 44 of those 100 companies didn’t have a single female on their executive team.

The highest percentage of female executives was found at AmorePacific, where 16 out of 73 total executives were women, or 21.9%. It was the only company ranked among South Korea’s top 100 where the proportion exceeded 20%. The percentage of female executives at AmorePacific previously rose from 14% in 2016 to 18.3% in 2017 and 18.7% in 2018 before crossing the 20% mark for the first time this year. Next highest was CJ CheilJedang, where 14 out of 92 executives (15.2%) were women. Naver also ranked high with 14.1% female executives (12 out of 85). Samsung SDS joined the list of companies with over 10% female executives at 10 out of 86 (11.6%).

Among the four biggest companies, Samsung Electronics exceeded the average of 3.6% with 5.2% female executives (55 out of 1,049).The total of 55 was the highest in numerical terms out of the top 100 companies. SK Innovation was also higher than average with 6.2% female executives (five out of 81). In contrast, the rate for Hyundai Motor stood at 0.9% (four of 450), while the rate for LG Electronics was less than hold of Samsung Electronics’ at 2.1% (seven out of 327).

Among the 244 female executives identified, 39 were 48 years old (born in 1971), making it the most frequently represented age. Another 26 were born in 1970, 24 in 1969, 22 each in 1972 and 1968, and 18 in 1973. Women in their 40s and younger who were born in 1970 or later accounted for 60.7% of the total. SK Innovation Vice President Kang Seon-hee was the longest-serving, having held down an executive position for 15 years since 2004.

By Song Gyung-hwa, staff reporter

Please direct comments or questions to [english@hani.co.kr]

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