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State-run banks lag in gender representation

By Kim Bo-eun

Korea Development Bank's headquarters on Yeouido, Seoul / Korea Times file
Korea Development Bank's headquarters on Yeouido, Seoul / Korea Times file
The Moon Jae-in government has emphasized the importance of gender representation at public institutions, but three years in, state-run banks still have some of the lowest numbers of female executives.

The Korea Development Bank (KDB) and the Industrial Bank of Korea (IBK) have no female executives, according to the government's classification of executives as being board members.

This is the poorest representation among the eight institutions under the Financial Services Commission ― women make up 10 percent of the executives at the institutions.

This compares with the 21.1 percent at all 129 state-run and quasi-government institutions.

State-run lenders show poor representation despite growing movements around the world to improve gender representation.

Citigroup stated last week it appointed retail banking head Jane Fraser as the group's next CEO, becoming the first among the top 10 U.S. banking groups to appoint a female chief.

Korea's financial sector has also begun seeing increasing appointments of female executives, but public institutions lag behind private firms.

Industrial Bank of Korea headquarters in central Seoul / Yonhap
Industrial Bank of Korea headquarters in central Seoul / Yonhap
Regarding the matter, an IBK official said "If you broaden the classification of executives, we have a female vice president."

However, she is the only one among 18 vice presidents at the IBK.

"We also have many women in management positions at the bank's headquarters, as well as heading branches," the official said.

The IBK stated female employees in branch vice-managerial positions and above account for 26 percent, which exceeds the 20 percent minimum figure recommended by the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family.

The IBK set a milestone in 2013, when it made Kwon Sun-joo the first female CEO of a major bank here.

When broadening the definition of executive, the KDB also has one female executive who serves as a compliance officer.

The Export Import Bank of Korea (Eximbank) has a female outside director among its board members.

Some say it is difficult for state-run banks, which have been the most conservative of institutions, to appoint women to leadership positions given the lack of women in higher-level positions.

"The serving executives are part of a generation that joined the bank decades ago, when the percentage of female entrants was low," a KDB official said.

"We have been making efforts to appoint women to key positions in recent years."

"The banks would want internal figures to take executive positions, but if they lack women at the higher level, the institutions can appoint external figures," said Kim Sang-kyung, chief of the Korea Network of Women in Finance as well as the Korea International Finance Institute.

"This may be met with a backlash from within the bank, but achieving better gender representation needs to be an important value for the institution," she said.

A female vice president of a state-run bank said, "Along with gender representation figures, institutions need to set up programs to foster competent figures, which is a long-term effort to achieve gender equality."


By Kim Bo-eun

Korea Development Bank's headquarters on Yeouido, Seoul / Korea Times file
Korea Development Bank's headquarters on Yeouido, Seoul / Korea Times file
The Moon Jae-in government has emphasized the importance of gender representation at public institutions, but three years in, state-run banks still have some of the lowest numbers of female executives.

The Korea Development Bank (KDB) and the Industrial Bank of Korea (IBK) have no female executives, according to the government's classification of executives as being board members.

This is the poorest representation among the eight institutions under the Financial Services Commission ― women make up 10 percent of the executives at the institutions.

This compares with the 21.1 percent at all 129 state-run and quasi-government institutions.

State-run lenders show poor representation despite growing movements around the world to improve gender representation.

Citigroup stated last week it appointed retail banking head Jane Fraser as the group's next CEO, becoming the first among the top 10 U.S. banking groups to appoint a female chief.

Korea's financial sector has also begun seeing increasing appointments of female executives, but public institutions lag behind private firms.

Industrial Bank of Korea headquarters in central Seoul / Yonhap
Industrial Bank of Korea headquarters in central Seoul / Yonhap
Regarding the matter, an IBK official said "If you broaden the classification of executives, we have a female vice president."

However, she is the only one among 18 vice presidents at the IBK.

"We also have many women in management positions at the bank's headquarters, as well as heading branches," the official said.

The IBK stated female employees in branch vice-managerial positions and above account for 26 percent, which exceeds the 20 percent minimum figure recommended by the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family.

The IBK set a milestone in 2013, when it made Kwon Sun-joo the first female CEO of a major bank here.

When broadening the definition of executive, the KDB also has one female executive who serves as a compliance officer.

The Export Import Bank of Korea (Eximbank) has a female outside director among its board members.

Some say it is difficult for state-run banks, which have been the most conservative of institutions, to appoint women to leadership positions given the lack of women in higher-level positions.

"The serving executives are part of a generation that joined the bank decades ago, when the percentage of female entrants was low," a KDB official said.

"We have been making efforts to appoint women to key positions in recent years."

"The banks would want internal figures to take executive positions, but if they lack women at the higher level, the institutions can appoint external figures," said Kim Sang-kyung, chief of the Korea Network of Women in Finance as well as the Korea International Finance Institute.

"This may be met with a backlash from within the bank, but achieving better gender representation needs to be an important value for the institution," she said.

A female vice president of a state-run bank said, "Along with gender representation figures, institutions need to set up programs to foster competent figures, which is a long-term effort to achieve gender equality."


Kim Bo-eun bkim@koreatimes.co.kr

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