Empowering Women and ESG: Insights from Samsung Electronics HK Managing Director YiYin Zhao on Sustainable Innovations and Inclusion

As the first local female leader within the company, Samsung Electronics Hong Kong Managing Director YiYin Zhao shares valuable insights into the company's unwavering commitment to promoting diversity and inclusion, ensuring that every individual has equal opportunities to thrive and contribute. 

Samsung places a strong emphasis on sustainable innovations and fostering an inclusive corporate culture, as evident from the leadership of YiYin Zhao. Committed to  empowering women and upholding ESG principles, Samsung is actively driving positive change in the industry. 

Discover how Samsung leads the way in sustainable innovation while cultivating an inclusive work environment.

Text: Goosie Lam
Photo: Raymond Chan 

Samsung Electronics is a Korean brand, and Korea has been seen as still not a gender-equal country, especially in the working environment. As a female head of the company yourself, have you experienced any obstacles on your way to this title?

I am actually the first local female managing director at Samsung Electronics Hong Kong (hereinafter referred to as "Samsung"). Being with Samsung since 2009, I joined as the head of product marketing for the IT and mobile unit. In 2014, I was promoted to the head of that business unit. And fast forward to five years ago, I was promoted to be the managing director overseeing operations in Hong Kong and Macau. I am now responsible for both markets as well as the IT, mobile and consumer electronics unit. Based on my experience, I believe that Samsung as a company values the skill set and performance of a person rather than solely considering their gender. My story is a testament to the gender equality within this company.

What factors contribute to the gender balance and inclusive working environment in the management level at Samsung Electronics Hong Kong?

Corporate-wise, we prioritize maintaining a diverse and inclusive working environment as a key focus. When looking at management on a global level, we strive for a 50/50 gender proportion, ensuring equal representation of males and females. This gender balance is also reflected within my own team, where the ratio of male to female is equally distributed. It's worth noting that we not only have local employees but also Korean expats working in different business units.

Personally, I believe that my position as a senior female leader is a result of the corporate direction, and I am always conscious in making decisions to empower women. As the IT and mobile industry is known for its fast pace, I lead a team of senior leaders while also being a full-time working mom. Technology has played a crucial role in improving our multitasking abilities, making it even more important for everyone to have equal opportunities to contribute their ideas and advance their careers.

In your office, are there any accommodations or support specifically for women?

Absolutely. We have a breastfeeding room and maternity leave policies in place to cater to the needs of women. As we operate in the telecommunications industry where our customers require 24/7 support, there are times when the team needs to be present in the office. However, we offer flexible work hours to make it easier for everyone, including working moms, to manage their responsibilities. It may require some additional juggling for working moms, but these accommodations are not limited to women only; they are available for anyone with specific needs.

As for me, I have an open-door policy. With more than 200 employees, I always encourage everyone, regardless of their position, to come forward and share their ideas. This approach fosters a better working environment, which ultimately contributes to the overall improvement of the company.

Do you find it similar to be a mother and a leader?

Yes, I do find similarities between being a mother and a leader. I have a teenage girl, and through my relationship with her, I gain insights into the thoughts and inspirations of teenagers today. Being a mom allows me to understand the needs and concerns of younger generations. Similarly, as a leader, it's essential to possess a similar skillset and mindset. Empowering women in the workplace is not limited to just internal initiatives; it extends to understanding the needs of our female consumers. One valuable lesson I've learned from my daughter is the importance of sustainability.

Can you introduce us to the sustainability practices of Samsung and how the company addresses the concerns of the younger generation?

Samsung is committed to sustainability and understands the growing importance of this issue, particularly among the younger generation. Today's youth are more focused on the story behind the brands and whether they support sustainability practices. To ensure we align with these values, we invest significantly in technology and innovation. This investment is crucial because implementing sustainability in our products requires advanced technology. At Samsung, we prioritize everyday sustainability by incorporating recycled or up-cycled materials in our products, including the components and packaging. By connecting the dots and understanding the concerns of our consumers, we strive to bring sustainable solutions to the market.

I know there are some unique features of the Samsung TV packaging and remote controls that contribute to sustainability and also creativity?

I am glad you mentioned it! Samsung TV packaging boxes are designed in such a way that they can be transformed into creative items like cat house, bookshelf, or even a Christmas trees. The box design incorporates a LEGO-like structure, and the paper is designed with perforated dots, making it easy to fold in various ways. Our staff members have even created a Christmas tree using these boxes and displayed it at our service center. Also, our TV remote controls are solar-powered, eliminating the need for batteries. We are continuously working on introducing more sustainable and innovative solutions in the future.