2019 Sustainability Report

Thriving employees

“We have a very strong set of values and stand by them in bad times as well as good.”

Ron Mathison
Staff Director

What makes Swire Pacific a top employer in the region?

RM: At Swire Pacific, we aim to provide rewarding and fulfilling careers. We are committed to offering fair and competitive staff compensation that will attract, motivate, retain and reward high-performing employees at all levels.

We have a very strong set of values and stand by them in bad times as well as good. We recognise the importance of providing personal and professional growth in a supportive and motivating work environment. We believe that a healthy work-life balance contributes to the overall wellbeing of our employees and helps to sustain high levels of performance.

Ron Mathison

What does success look like for a top-rated employer?

RM: High levels of job satisfaction married with high performance. High levels of staff commitment and loyalty, resulting in low defection rates. One of our core values is teamwork. The working culture is highly collaborative and there is a strong sense of community and common endeavour.

How important is talent attraction and retention to Swire Pacific?

RM: Very important. People are our greatest asset and a source of competitive advantage. It is a business imperative that we remain able to attract and retain the right sort of talent, that is required to conceive and deliver the Company’s business strategy. The role of Human Resources is to equip our businesses with the requisite skills and capabilities.

Are you seeing any shifts in workplace expectations? How is Swire Pacific preparing for these shifts?

RM: We are seeing a greater importance being attached to diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Another shift in expectations is that employees want to work for a company that has a strong sense of social purpose.

There is a trend towards total rewards, where there is greater emphasis on intrinsic or experiential returns. We have always had a strong sense of social purpose, with our long-standing commitments to sustainability, our communities and our people. Our reward structure has always contained a good mix of extrinsic and intrinsic elements.

In recent years, great strides have been taken in developing greater diversity and inclusion. We have set up a Diversity and Inclusion department and published a diversity and inclusion policy and five-year plan, with clear targets and metrics. A steering group has been established and many of our human resource policies have been revamped to take account of our commitments in this area.

Why is being a good employer material to us?

Our people are integral to our business. Our success depends on them.

We aim to attract the most talented employees by providing an environment where everyone is treated fairly and with respect. We strive to recruit the best people, to offer competitive remuneration and benefits, to provide training which enables staff to realise their potential and to have a workforce that reflects the diversity of the communities in which we operate.

Staff profile

At the end of 2019, the Swire Pacific Group, including joint venture and associated companies, employed over 94,000 staff, an increase of 1.7% from the end of 2018. Most of our staff are based in Hong Kong and Mainland China.

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Hong Kong &
Macau (SAR)
Mainland China
Totals may not be the exact sum of numbers shown here due to rounding.


Region Workforce
Hong Kong & Macau (SAR) 44%
Mainland China 35%
Taiwan 3%
USA 11%
Others 6%

Attracting and retaining talent

We offer competitive remuneration and employee benefits, including medical benefits, retirement schemes, bonuses, up to 14 weeks maternity leave and five days paternity leave. The Group provides staff access to recreational facilities such as holiday homes and leisure boats.

Remuneration decisions are based on job size, roles and responsibilities, individual and business performance and conditions in the employment markets and economies in which we operate.

We try to recruit locally, searching the local market before looking internationally. Vacancies are open first to our own people, then locally and finally overseas. Cathay Pacific aims to increase the proportion of local pilot cadets to 50%.

We continue to refine our people recruitment strategies, so we can continue to attract the best talent in the market. In 2019, Swire Properties and Cathay Pacific introduced digitalised recruitment platforms.

But, it is not just about recruiting the best talent, it is about retaining them.

New staff receive presentations on the organisational structure and history of the Group and its principal operations, as well as briefings on our Corporate Code of Conduct, our SwireLIVE group intranet and our staff association. Familiarisation visits to other group businesses are made.

We do our best to ensure that employees receive regular, objective, fair and open assessments of their performance and are rewarded accordingly.

In 2019, Swire Properties started to ask its office employees to align their performance goals with Swire Properties’ SD 2030 business and sustainability strategy. It reviewed the remuneration of its employees in Mainland China with a view to ensuring it is both internally fair and externally competitive.

Cathay Pacific’s new brand values, thoughtful, progressive and can-do spirit, are linked to its Work Well Done employee recognition programme, helping to bring these values to life. Senior leaders at Cathay Pacific give thank you cards, lounge passes and upgrade vouchers to recognise staff for doing something exceptional and being excellent role models.

Cathay Pacific – Niki and Betsy awards

Cathay Pacific – Niki and Betsy awards

Every year, Cathay Pacific holds its Niki and Betsy awards. In the 1940s, Niki and Betsy were Cathay Pacific’s first two aircraft. In 2019, 15 Niki and 15 Betsy winners were chosen from hundreds of submissions and celebrated at an awards ceremony in Hong Kong. The Niki award winners work behind the scenes and are rewarded for their exceptional efforts and behaviour. The Betsy awards are presented for exceptional customer service. The winners embody the Cathay Pacific brand and have shown what it takes to deliver world leading service.

In 2019, for the fourth consecutive year, Swire Properties was named one of the top three companies to work for in Hong Kong by the Randstad Employer Brand Awards. 75 of Hong Kong’s largest companies competed in the awards. The results reflected the opinions of 3,700 local employees and job seekers. Swire Properties was cited for its career progression opportunities, its pleasant working atmosphere and its use of the latest technologies.

Staff turnover is monitored with a view to identifying and managing problems as they arise, and to retaining our talented employees. The staff turnover rate fell from 19% in 2018 to 16% in 2019.

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Total voluntary turnover rate of permanent employees (%)

*Permanent employees only

Total voluntary turnover rate of permanent employees (%)

2016 2017 2018 2019
15% 19% 19% 16%

*Permanent employees only

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*Permanent employees only


2016 2017 2018 2019
Male 14% 17% 17% 16%
Female 16% 21% 21% 18%

*Permanent employees only

Thriving employees

Our Code of Conduct demonstrates our commitment to treat all employees fairly and equally, to be an equal opportunity employer and to make ethical decisions on matters which affect our employees, those with whom we do business and the communities in which we operate. The code provides our employees with guidance on how to conduct themselves in an ethical manner.

In accordance with our Code of Conduct, we do not tolerate unlawful discrimination or harassment in the workplace. Employees must comply with applicable employment and other laws. We provide staff with training on their rights and obligations under Hong Kong anti-discrimination legislation. More information can be found in the Diversity and inclusion section of this report.

We focus on the employee journey, from arrival to departure, including training, performance management and engagement. Our goal is to enable our employees to flourish, encouraging them to take pride in our culture and to give them an experience which inspires them to do their best for our businesses.

The Group has a flexible working policy. Introduced in 2019, it covers compressed and staggered working hours, part time working, remote working and sabbaticals.

We believe in open and timely communication with our employees on matters affecting them. We aim to enhance communication and understanding and to enable views to be heard and considered appropriately. For our businesses with trade unions, we work to continue to build constructive and productive relations with employee representatives.

Employees can use our 24-hour counselling and consultation services. Our Employee Assistance Programme offers in-person counselling and a 24-hour support hotline. We arrange talks and training sessions on mental and emotional wellness and the balance between work and non-work elements of life.

Under our employee assistance programme, employees can receive counselling about concerns or difficulties at work and in their personal and family lives. Individual professional advice and coaching is provided.

Through our personal assistance and outplacement service, we provide professional counselling for employees who have received notice of termination of their employment, until up to six months after termination. The service is designed to help them in searching for new jobs and to adjust to their change of circumstances.

Our wellness promotion programmes organise talks and seminars aimed at increasing awareness of, and promoting, the mental, emotional and psychological wellbeing of our employees, with a view to improving their personal and professional effectiveness. More information can be found in the Health and safety section of this report.

Swire Hong Kong Staff Association

Swire Hong Kong Staff Association

As a way of building community and a sense of belonging, Hong Kong based employees can choose to join the Swire Hong Kong Staff Association. The Swire Hong Kong Staff Association organises and sponsors sports and recreational activities, classes for interest groups and community services. It obtains discounts for events and products, hand sanitiser for example. In 2019, it organised over 60 activities. There were more than 6,000 participants at its annual event at Ocean Park.

Engaging with our employees

We communicate with our people through our intranet, social media, newsletters, surveys, informal gatherings and staff forums. By doing so, we tell people what is happening in the Group.

Cathay Pacific has a bi-monthly magazine called The Journey and face to face forums for employees to hear from senior leaders. In 2019, an intranet called The Hub was launched, which contains company news, events, up-to-date documents and quick access to systems and platforms. They also have an annual online employee engagement survey. 40% of employees completed the survey in 2019. Shorter, twice-yearly, pulse surveys also take place to keep up with their people's sentiments.

Group pre-retirement workshops

Group pre-retirement workshops

To help employees understand and prepare for their retirement, we organise pre-retirement workshops. The aim is to give participants an understanding of what changes will happen when they retire, and how to cope with these changes, providing them with skills and knowledge intended to enable them to have a meaningful life in retirement.

Counsellors, a financial planner and insurance brokers run the workshops. Nutrition and health, financial planning and medical insurance are covered.

Looking ahead

In 2020, the staff department is reviewing our parental leave policy and will perform an employee engagement survey.

Diversity and inclusion

Creating a valuable culture