March 25, 2016 11:50
Hyundai Motor, the nation's largest automaker and second-biggest conglomerate, stands accused of a rock-solid glass ceiling for female staff.
As of the third quarter of last year, the carmaker had 266 executives, but only two of them were women, and one of them later quit. However, there are now three.
The automaker boasted late last year that one woman was appointed to an executive position after rising through the company ranks, as if that was unheard-of.
But Hyundai isn't the worst case. Affiliate Kia has no female executives at all among its 176 top managers.
Hyundai has pledged to boost the number of female executives this year, but it is hardly on the cutting edge of equal opportunities.
The glass ceiling is still a widespread reality in Korea. According to a recent report by the Economist, Korea had the severest workplace discrimination against women in the OECD.
At Samsung Electronics the situation is marginally better with female executives accounting for four percent of the top managers, although the figure is nothing to be proud of either.
Hyundai points out that carmaking is different to other industries and naturally attracts more talented men, but in other countries female CEOs like Mary Barra at General Motors are thriving.
Female customers are also becoming an important market for the car industry, and a company like Hyundai that is so welded to the old ways could find its fortunes sinking in this segment.
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