Lai See

PUBLISHED : Friday, 18 May, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 18 May, 2012, 12:00am

Climate study fails to address the weather

Since yesterday was International Day Against Homophobia, we attended a press conference organised by non-governmental organisation Community Business and was enlightened by the study it prepared with the University of Hong Kong's public opinion programme and sponsored by Barclays.

The report - Hong Kong LGBT Climate Study 2011-12 - has nothing to do with climate, but concerns the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, and how it relates to the business community. This is unfamiliar territory for Lai See but we learnt that between five and 10 per cent of the workforce in most companies can be considered LGBT.

The survey also showed that while the Hong Kong community appears more accepting than previously thought when it comes to LGBT individuals, there is still widespread discrimination against them within the community and the workplace. Some 22 per cent of those surveyed say they are not 'accepting of LGB individuals', with 25 per cent saying they are 'not accepting' of transgender individuals.

At least 13 per cent of LGBT individuals say they have experienced negative treatment in the workplace because of their sexual orientation - in the form of being treated with less respect, verbally insulted or mocked, anti-LGBT jokes, and bullying and harassment.

The survey found that 44 per cent of LGBTs were women and 54 per cent men, with most aged between 18 and 35. International companies were rated by LGBT individuals as providing the best working environments, while those working for the government and the public sector, saw the lowest.

The point of the study was to raise awareness of the LGBT issues with a view to making workplaces more inclusive. Amanda Yik of Community Business noted that the Hong Kong government did not recognise same-sex marriages or partnerships when granting work visas. Homosexuality was legalised in Hong Kong in 1991, and the age of consent was equalised with heterosexual acts in 2006. The Hong Kong Bill of Rights Ordinance 1991 outlaws government discrimination, but not private discrimination.

Hitting heady heights

We see that Jing Ulrich's global stature continues to rise. Ulrich is JPMorgan's managing director and chairwoman of global markets, China, but she has received further elevation in being one of the two women recently appointed to the board of GlaxoSmithKline as an non-executive director with effect from July 1. She was appointed along with Lynn Elsenhans, who was president and chief executive of Sunoco, a transportation fuel provider in the United States.

Commenting on the appointments, Christopher Gent, chairman of GSK, said: 'Today's announcement also reflects the board's priority of appointing candidates who have deep knowledge of emerging markets or experience of running global companies.'

Readers will recall that Ulrich has been named as one of Forbes magazine's 50 power businesswomen in Asia, one of the 100 Most Powerful Women in the World in 2010, and also as one of the 20 youngest global power women.

A citizen on the move

Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin has recently given up his US citizenship and moved to Singapore, and is now a permanent resident. He apparently gave up his US citizenship in September in a move some people have mistakenly believed to have been aimed at reducing his exposure to US capital gains tax following today's hotly anticipated IPO of the social networking site.

Saverin 'has found it more practical to become a resident of Singapore since he plans to live there for an indefinite period of time', his US-based press agent Tom Goodman told AFP. Saverin has apparently invested in a number of Singapore tech companies. He is no longer directly involved in Facebook following an acrimonious spat with co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, though according to the Daily Mail he retains a stake worth some US$3.4 billion.

The newspaper also notes that should the US tax authorities believe that he gave up his citizenship to avoid tax, he could be banned from returning to the US. There are worse fates.

Publisher clarification

Yesterday's item on Ezra Vogel inadvertently stated that the Chinese version of his new book, Deng Xiaoping and the Transformation of China was published by the Hong Kong University Press. This should have read the Chinese University Press.


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