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LGBTQ: The invisible women in banking

Lesbian and bisexual women in banking in Asia struggle to win equal opportunities and defy society’s stereotypes.

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Photo: Getty

When Denise Tse-Shang Tang, an assistant professor at Hong Kong’s Lingnan University, and Celine Tan of HSBC teamed up to conduct a study on lesbian, bisexual and transwomen working in finance in the territory, they were in for a surprise.

Tang had expected it to be easier to find and interview eligible women in one of Asia’s biggest financial centres.

“I thought people would be more forward and forthcoming about their sexualities,” says Tang, assistant professor at the university’s department of cultural studies. “I was surprised that was not the case.”

Instead, Tang’s study, conducted between May and August 2020, found women to be largely closeted at work and at home, keeping their sexual orientation private.

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Denise Tang, Lingnan University

Only 46% of the responding women said they were openly out to their families, with an additional 18% partially out, perhaps only to siblings or a close family member. In the workplace, 37% of the respondents were out, with another 23% partially out to close colleagues. Likewise, 39% said they were not aware of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) colleagues that were out in their own companies, and 71% said they didn’t think there were any senior women leaders out at work.

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