Boardroom demarcation for the unfair sex

PUBLISHED : Monday, 15 May, 1995, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 15 May, 1995, 12:00am

LAST week, Lai See commented that Jardine director Sir Charles Powell was generally reckoned to be one of the best-looking gents in the City of London and it drew the following aggrieved response: This is sexist. Would you have written the same thing about Sir Charles if he were a woman? To which the obvious response is: if Sir Charles were a woman, he wouldn't be on the board of Jardines.

Five Jardine companies issued annual reports this week, showing a total of 60 directorships. Of which, not one was held by a woman.

This provides an excuse to update the little survey from last year on what proportion of Hong Kong directors are women. Last year, the figure among the top 10 listed companies in the territory was that among 145 directorships, eight were held by women.

This year, it has gone to eight among 146. Lydia Dunn accounts for 25 per cent of the female directorships.

While the all-male Jardine groups have dropped out of the listed companies list, one firm on it has managed to lose half of its female directors, dropping from two to one.

Hongkong Telecom, Wharf (Holdings) and Sun Hung Kai Properties have no female directors at all.

The total proportion of posts held by women has stayed unchanged at one in 18, and at this rate, by the time women hold up half the sky in the territory's boardrooms, rising sea levels will mean the Star Ferry will be shuttling between Caine Road and Kowloon Park.

While 2.5 million women hold between them eight directorships, former stock exchange head Charles Lee Yeh-kwong manages to have three on his own.

Dressing down NIKKEI Weekly has been peering into offices to see how casual-dress days are doing in Japan after their success in the US.

The idea is that to unlock creativity, breed office spirit etc, people won't wear ordinary office clothes. It seems some employers haven't quite grasped the idea.

One has started issuing guidelines on what to wear on casual-dress days.

Each-way bet DODGY Hong Kong tycoons who fear being thrown out of the ex-Royal Hong Kong Jockey Club if convicted of something nasty now have an option: buy their own racecourse.

We've heard a couple of times of racetracks in China being up for sale, but this is something much better: British accountancy Grant Thornton has been made receiver for three British tracks and is trying to find buyers.

The most aristocratic-sounding one is Dumpton Park, Ramsgate, which sounds an elegant, grand old place. Unfortunately, the only things to race around there these days are dogs and motorcycles with no silencers.

Still, it would enable the owner to set up his or her own jockey club and bar entry to anyone he didn't like, even if the person involved had never applied to join in the first place.

Greek gift READERS of PC User magazine have got an extra little surprise on the free floppy disk on the current issue, issue 15.

It's called AntiCMOS.A, and it's a computer virus.

The publishers have been desperately trying to get the copies of the magazine back since it went on the newsstands late last month, and if you've got one, we suggest you give them a ring.

The folks from PC User magazine were a bit embarrassed to explain what had happened on Friday.

We understand they sent a clean disk to a disk duplication facility in Shenzhen, and got back thousands of infected disks, which they then taped to the front of the mag.

The magazine is considering suing the duplication house.

Meanwhile, it is getting new disks with green rather than purple background.

It seems that anyone getting disks duplicated by an outside firm had better check them when they come back.

One problem is that Hong Kong-registered companies who offer disk duplication services often subcontract the work to a mainland firm, which may be a bit hazy on how to keep viruses off its system.

The main programme on the PC User disk was a demo version of one of the leading virus-buster programs.

Up down THE old jokes about economists being unable to agree came dramatically to life on the World Service's Business Briefing on Saturday.

It rang two economists and asked them about the recent bounce in the value of the US dollar.

First economist: The dollar has got cancer. It may rise a little but will continue sliding, because of irreversible economic forces.

Second economist: The dollar was oversold and it is now going up to where it should be - the exact opposite viewpoint.

And who were they? The first was Kenneth Curtis, an economist with Deutsche Bank in Tokyo.

The second was Bronwyn Curtis, an economist with Deutsche Bank in London.

How does Deutsche Bank management decide which to listen to? Toss a coin?