Lai See
PUBLISHED : Saturday, 25 January, 2014, 5:29am
UPDATED : Saturday, 25 January, 2014, 5:39am

The Women's Foundation seeks those with blue-chip credentials

BIO

Howard Winn has been with the South China Morning Post for two and half years after previous stints as business editor and deputy editor of The Standard, and business editor of Asia Times. His writing has also been published in the Far Eastern Economic Review, the Wall Street Journal, and the International Herald Tribune. He writes the Lai See column which focuses on the lighter side of business.
 

The Women's Foundation is looking to boost its brand and spread its message further by hiring a marketing and communications manager. Last year, it made something of a splash with a number of high-profile initiates that attracted some attention. Together with leading headhunters, the foundation announced "a code of conduct for board searches", which was essentially an undertaking to adopt a more professional approach to selecting boardroom candidates. That is, instead of seeking candidates by running through a list of the chairman's friends, conducting a proper search to select candidates on merit and also with a view to increasing gender diversity on the board.

Then it launched the 30% Club in Hong Kong, which was an extension of the one started in London in 2010 to increase the number of women in boardrooms. Then, together with the Ivey Executive MBA programme in Hong Kong, it offered scholarships annually to outstanding women.

Candidates for the foundation's job must be "passionate about the advancement of women in Hong Kong". The advertisement says the organisation is a "committed equal opportunities employer," so no need for men to shy away from this challenge. Interestingly, candidates are required to have a degree from a "blue-chip academic institution" and ideally experience of "marketing within blue-chip organisations".

 

HK should raise cigarette prices

The Office of the Surgeon General in the United States recently issued a report entitled "The Health Consequences of Smoking -50 years of Progress". The forward states: "This report highlights both the dramatic progress in reducing tobacco use and the continuing burden of disease and death caused by smoking." Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius says smoking has "killed 10 times the number of Americans who died in all of our nation's wars combined". Smoking has killed more than 20 million Americans since 1964 when the first surgeon general's report was published. However, control measures reduced smoking from 42 per cent of the population in 1965 to 18 per cent in 2012, which means about 42 million are smokers at present.

The 2004 report concluded that smoking affected nearly every organ in the body. The latest one takes this further with a long list of further diseases that are caused or exacerbated by smoking. It draws attention to the use of electronic cigarettes. Their use by US middle- and high-school students more than doubled between 2011 and 2012.

About 11 per cent of the population smoke in Hong Kong, which is low by world standards. Nevertheless, although its cost of living is one of the highest in the world, the cost of buying a packet of cigarettes, at HK$50 for a packet of Marlboro, remains too affordable. High prices are one of the biggest disincentives to smoking and are particularly effective in discouraging children. In Brisbane, a packet of Marlboro is the equivalent of HK$130, New Zealand HK$103, New York HK$100, London HK$90 and Singapore HK$78. Hong Kong should increase prices.

 

Illegal parking signs ignored

A reader has alerted us to developments outside Prince's Building with respect to illegal parking. Those who have been following this saga will know it is a black spot. Signs have now been posted telling drivers that "vehicle waiting will be prosecuted without warning". Yellow cross-hatchings have been painted on the road to reinforce the point. However, as our picture taken yesterday morning shows, these signs have not had the desired effect.

However, our spotter reports that he espied a policeman ticketing a car illegally parked in the lay-by. As usual, it was one without a driver. Those with drivers are usually moved on.

It will be interesting to see if the new technology the police will be deploying shortly will lead to a rise in ticketing. But the devices seem cumbersome by today's standards. The police officer inputs the vehicle's details and when he returns to the station, the information is automatically uploaded to servers. You wouldn't have thought it too hard to produce a device that could take a picture of the vehicle's number plate and wirelessly zap the information to the police servers, together with its location. But clearly the glacial approach is more favoured.

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