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KB, Shinhan first Korean companies to join Bloomberg’s 2019 Gender-Equality Index

Gender equality a rising priority at Korea’s finance sector notorious for thick glass ceiling

South Korea’s top two finance and banking groups have joined Bloomberg’s fledgling Gender Equality Index, signaling the sector’s rising commitment to promoting gender equality and female-friendly policies in the workplace.

KB Financial Group and Shinhan Financial Group said Thursday they have become the first Korean companies to be included in the Bloomberg GEI for their commitment to transparency in gender reporting and advancing women’s workplace equality.

KB and Shinhan were among the 230 companies included on the index, which also listed major global finance groups, such as the Bank of America, France’s BNP Paribas and Japan’s Mizuho Financial Group.


Based on voluntary disclosures, Bloomberg evaluates how companies promote gender equality across four areas: company statistics, policies, community engagement and products and services. Those with a security listed on a US exchange and market capitalization of $1 billion or greater are eligible for inclusion in the index.

Reporting companies that score above a globally established threshold, based on the extent of their disclosures and the achievement of best-in-class statistics and policies, are included in the GEI, according to the business media group.

KB said it was recognized for its efforts to promote more female CEOs and executives as well as its package of family-friendly policies for women, including child support and generous leave policies.

Similarly, Shinhan cited its first-ever appointment of a female board chairman in 2010, as well as its female leadership training program and family-friendly leave policies, as key reasons for its inclusion in the Bloomberg GEI.

Gender equality is becoming a growing priority for Korea’s banking sector, which is starting to see cracks in the glass ceiling with more females being appointed to senior executive roles.

In its latest reshuffle, Shinhan promoted two women to executive-level positions, naming Wang Mi-hwa as the head of the group’s wealth management unit, and Cho Kyoung-sun as Shinhan Bank’s executive vice president of its sales channel planning group.

Meanwhile, Park Jeong-rim, KB Financial Group and Kookmin Bank vice president, was appointed the co-CEO of KB Securities in its latest executive reshuffle, marking the brokerage industry’s first-ever female CEO.

KB Kookmin Bank also named three new female executives for the new year. Cho Soon-ok was named the compliance officer and managing director of the bank, while Kim Chong-ran was appointed to lead the bank’s trust division. Lee Mi-kyung was promoted to an executive role in the investment product and service division.

Woori Bank also brought in two new female executives in its latest reshuffle. The bank promoted Jeong Jong-suk, head of the wealth management strategy department, to executive vice president, and named Song Han-young, head of the Jongno corporate sales department, as director of foreign exchange.

Meanwhile, the two female executives in Hana Financial Group -- KEB Hana Bank Executive Director Baek Mi-gyeong, and Kim Nam-hee, a Hana Bank sales director -- retained their positions in the bank’s year-end reshuffle.

Despite the promotions, women are still largely underrepresented in Korea’s finance industry. As of 2017, just 3.9 percent of executives at commercial banks in Korea were women, though 58 percent of some 58,000 bank tellers were women, according to data from the Financial Services Commission compiled by Rep. Je Youn-kyung of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea.

By Sohn Ji-young (
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Korea Herald daum