Building Inclusive Workplaces for Lesbian and Bisexual Women in Hong Kong’s Financial Services Industry


Denise Tse-Shang Tang

Executive Summary

Workplace inclusion is a core component of corporate social responsibility (CSR) in Hong Kong. Workplace inclusion points to the need for employers to recognize diversity among employees, to acknowledge their contributions to the work environment and to raise professional standards for the work force. Diversity within a workplace indicates inclusion of persons with different backgrounds as in racial, ethnic, sex, health status, sexual orientation and gender identity. Women are already less represented at senior levels across various business sectors in Hong Kong. Lesbians and bisexual women face a double glass ceiling in the workplace as a result of both their gender and sexual orientation.

Funded by Lingnan University’s Innovation and Impact Fund, and in partnership with Interbank Forum and Lesbians in Finance, Prof. Denise Tse-Shang Tang conducted an online survey and two focus groups targeting lesbians and bisexual women working in Hong Kong’s financial and banking industry. The aim of the study is to examine the specific challenges and barriers faced by lesbians and bisexual women in Hong Kong’s financial services industry.

We found that only 37% of survey respondents were out at work, with 23% partially out to close colleagues. In other words, there are still key concerns with being out at work. On the issue of a glass ceiling for LGBT+ corporate employees, 18% of the survey respondents agreed and 47% somewhat agreed that such a ceiling exists. When asked whether it is harder for lesbians and bisexual women to come out in the workplace than it is for gay men, 32% agreed and 46% somewhat agreed. 27% agreed and 39% somewhat agreed with the statement that it is difficult for lesbians and bisexual women to climb up the corporate ladder. Other findings pointed to the low visibility of lesbians and bisexual women in corporate settings, lack of mentorship, increased levels of stress and anxiety, and the fear of being judged as both a woman and a lesbian. Masculine-presenting employees face significantly more scrutiny than cisgender female employees. Therefore, even though discussion on diversity and inclusion has been on the agenda for better corporate work environment in Hong Kong, there still remain gaps in raising awareness of lesbian and bisexual women’s issues. 

Funded by
Innovation and Impact Fund - Knowledge Transfer Programme

Community Partners

Hong Kong LGBT+ Interbank Forum 
Lesbians in Finance