Justin D’Agostino

This year, Justin championed the introduction of a market-leading shared parental leave policy which is available to the firm’s employees across its nine Asia offices, supporting all parents, regardless of gender, sexual orientation or other circumstances. The policy creates a ground-breaking “sharing” arrangement that allows working parents to organise their families as they see fit rather than being cast in typical “maternity” and “paternity” gender roles. Justin is also focused on breaking down barriers that prevent women from reaching the highest levels, advocating for the introduction of gender targets in the firm, resulting in 33% women in the Asia partnership. He was instrumental in the introduction of new, stretch global targets in May 2019, stating that women will comprise 35% of the global partnership and partner leadership roles by 2023. Justin is also a personal sponsor and mentor to numerous high-performing women across the firm, and Executive Sponsor of the firm’s IRIS (LGBT+) Network, and led the development of the firm’s Asia Multicultural Network in 2018. Beyond Herbert Smith Freehills, Justin is a member of the 30% Club HK as well as BritCham’s HK Women in Business Committee, through which he acts as a vocal ally and champion of gender equity across Hong Kong.

May Tai

May, the first female managing partner in Asia, has been instrumental in creating a more diverse and inclusive working environment at her firm, and promoting and protecting individual rights in Hong Kong. In 2018, May led the firm to sign up to a Code of Practice against Discrimination in Employment on the Grounds of Sexual Orientation. She has simplified and updated the firm’s agile working policy to allow more flexible and efficient ways of working for employees. The firm has also seen improvements in terms of maternity and paternity leave policies under May’s leadership. May represented the firm’s Hong Kong office to sign the Fair Hiring Pledge, committing the firm to encouraging their employees in Hong Kong to hire domestic workers fairly. Externally, May is passionate about nurturing new generations of legal talent including a number of young female lawyers-to-be, and she leads the firm’s efforts in developing home-grown PRC lawyers under the firm’s PRC Scholarship Programme.

Teresa Ko

Teresa is executive sponsor of Freshfield’s Asian women’s network, through which she hosts activities, International Women’s Day celebrations and sponsors initiatives by members. She regularly mentors female associates, guiding them in their work and strategic thinking and helping them to navigate the world of M&A and IPOs. She supported the women’s network’s ‘Every Day Gender Equality’ initiative (EDGE), a set of ten everyday actions that everybody in the firm can take to demonstrate gender inclusion and to break down the current unequal status quo. The actions include championing women as a fundamental part of business success, making sure everyone can fully participate and be heard, calling out inappropriate behaviour and representing these values to clients. Teresa ensured that maternity and paternity leave entitlements are substantially above market norms for Asia, promoting a better work-life balance. Externally, Teresa is a leading voice in combatting Hong Kong’s board culture, where women represent only 13% of directors. She is a founding member and steering committee member of the 30% Club Hong Kong and is an active supporter of The Women’s Foundation. Teresa was the first female chair of Hong Kong’s Stock Exchange Listing Committee, where she introduced initiatives to promote board diversity throughout Hong Kong’s listed companies.

Pauline Wong

Pauline leads State Street’s asset servicing business in Hong Kong and is a champion for diversity in all its forms. She is the executive sponsor of State Street’s Hong Kong PRIDE network, which creates a safe networking environment for LGBT+ employees and their allies. Previously she was also the executive sponsor of the Bank’s Hong Kong Professional Woman’s Network. Externally, Pauline is a member of the steering committee of Women’s Foundation’s Life Skills Programme. Together with some friends, she also set up a social enterprise that brings together young designers to design upcycling products produced by women from minority groups. Finally, Pauline has been a mentor to many female mentees within and outside the company.

Carol Liao

As the leader of BCG in Greater China, Carol is responsible for four offices and over 500 staff members. In the past three years, 11 women have been elected partners in China—one-third of their partner group in the region. Through investment in recruiting, women comprise more than 50% of the entry-level cohorts in the region. Carol leads a cross-functional committee dedicated to providing career support to women, including programs focused on sponsorship for mid-level and senior women and flexible working arrangements. Externally, she is involved in a number of organizations that promote women in business, including the Mu Lan Club, an organization of female entrepreneurs sponsored by China Entrepreneur magazine. The group comes together to discuss topics impacting women in business. In 2017, she attended Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Conference in Hong Kong, and has spoken on gender-equality issues at the Women of Our Time conference, sponsored by the South China Morning Post. In addition, she co-authored the BCG research paper Creating the Diverse Organization: How to Thrive in a Complex World (April 2016), in which they advocated that a diverse workforce is imperative for meeting the demands of diverse customers.

Teresa Ko

Teresa Ko has spoken on many platforms, from the firm’s women’s events celebrating the London Olympics, to the firm’s second ever Global Women Partners Conference when she called for “a mindset change” amongst male colleagues. Her efforts to highlight gender inequality and to champion women and inclusiveness in the workplace are global, having spoken in New York, Hong Kong, and Dusseldorf, to name a few. She regularly coaches aspiring female colleagues with work, career and life issues to help them realise their fullest potential. Teresa also spearheaded the first ever Asia Women Partners Conference in Tokyo this year and helped organise the largest ever women’s networking event in theTokyo office. She is an executive sponsor of the Asia Women’s Network, and hosts female colleagues and client events to mark International Women’s Day.  As the first woman to chair the Hong Kong Stock Exchange’s Listing Committee, she initiated the disclosure requirement of listed companies on diversity policies. She was the first to sign up as a founding member, and is on the steering committee, of Hong Kong’s 30% Club, she collaborates often with The Women’s Foundation, and speaks regularly on gender equality.