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Blog | 3 Jun 2021

The Importance of Increasing the LGBT+ Leadership Pipeline in Hong Kong

This opinion piece forms part of our IMPACTxAsia blog series

The Importance of Increasing the LGBT+ Leadership Pipeline in Hong Kong

In January of 2021, Community Business launched its pilot 9-month LGBT+ Mentoring Programme with a cohort of 42 participants including 21 Mentee and Mentor pairs. The programme consists of monthly professional development sessions, monthly check-ins between Mentees and Mentors and group networking sessions.

The positive response we have received for the programme demonstrates the gap that this programme seeks to address in fostering the pipeline of LGBT+ leaders in Hong Kong. Our information sessions were attended by over 100 people, leading to 79 applications from 6 countries and 60 interviews.

The participants, who take part as individuals, not as representatives of their respective companies, represent 15 industries ranging from entrepreneurs to finance and legal services. This year’s cohort is 36% women and 64% men. Our mentors bring a collective work experience of 376 years. They are either from the LGBT+ community, or demonstrated allies, and come with over 10 years of professional experience. Mentees though, are all part of the LGBT+ community and are early in their career, with between 3-10 years of experience.

Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, meetings have been conducted virtually thus far. Given the personal and interactive nature of mentoring, we had planned to conduct sessions face to face, giving participants the opportunity to connect in person and build the bonds that are so vital to successful mentoring relationships.  However, we, like everyone else this past year, had to pivot and make the best of a challenging situation. We are fortunate to have a very talented and engaged group of professionals who have risen to the challenges and are thriving.

The Benefits of Mentoring

The benefits of mentoring are well documented. For mentees, the benefits include increased confidence, higher self-awareness, exposure to new ways of thinking, giving and receiving feedback, job satisfaction and growth of their personal networks.

For companies, the benefits include a positive impact on company culture, greater diversity in leadership, knowledge sharing and employee attraction, engagement and retention.

Additionally:

  • Mentees are promoted 5 times more often than those without mentors (Source)
  • Mentors are 6 times more likely to be promoted (Source)
  • 79% of millennials see mentoring as crucial to their career success (Source)
  • Of those with a mentor, 97% say they are valuable (Source), yet only 37% of professionals have a mentor (Source)
  • 89% of those who have been mentored will also go on to mentor others (Source)
  • 67% of businesses reported an increase in productivity due to mentoring (Source)
  • 55% of businesses felt that mentoring had a positive impact on their profits (Source)

Why do we feel that it’s important to increase the LGBT+ leadership pipeline in Hong Kong? We hear repeatedly from clients that their companies often have robust DE&I strategy and initiatives in Europe and North America, but their APAC offices are not as far along in their journeys.  We see the need for leaders who will understand the true need and benefit of a diverse perspective and equitable workplaces; we need leaders with lived experience to appreciate the impact of visible representation and inclusivity in every aspect of the business.

In Hong Kong, there are other excellent mentoring programmes serving different populations. Fruits in Suits and Queer Straight Alliance conduct an LGBT+ mentoring programme for university students and The Women’s Foundation runs a programme for professional women. Through our work with clients in Hong Kong, we have heard many wished they could start a programme of this nature, but lacked the resources to do so. We felt that it was the right time for us to fill this gap in the market, by creating a safe space for early career LGBT+ professionals, to explore topics related to their careers and lives, taking into consideration the unique challenges they face.

The more LGBT+ people, and other underrepresented groups, are visibly represented through programmes like this and in everyday contexts, the less inclusion will be seen as a ‘sensitive’ or special topic. After all, LGBT+ people do not want special rights or attention. They merely want equal treatment and the ability to be their authentic selves at work, and in the world, like their non-LGBT+ colleagues.

Get Involved in the 2022 LGBT+ Mentoring Programme

Promotion for the 2022 LGBT+ Mentoring Programme will begin later this summer. Information Sessions will begin in September and applications will be open online in October.

If you want to support young LGBT+ talent and showcase your organisation’s commitment to inclusion, our corporate sponsorship opportunities may be of interest to you.

If you are interested in being either a Mentee or Mentor, please sign up for our newsletter to receive the latest news, watch our website for updates or contact Scot Jones to find out more.

About the Author: Scot Jones, Programme Associate of LGBT+ at Community Business