EOC Statement: In response to media enquiries about the organizational restructuring of the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC)
In response to media enquiries about the organizational restructuring of the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC), the Commission has made the following statement today (27 February 2015):
1. As a publicly-funded statutory body, the EOC has the responsibility to regularly review and enhance its corporate governance through various means, including organizational restructuring, so as to cater for the society’s changing needs and perform its functions effectively and cost-efficiently.
2. The EOC initiated the organizational restructuring review in early 2014, with due consideration to the trends and concerns of discrimination in the society. It was decided that in addition to handling complaints and litigations, the EOC would also put greater emphasis on advocacy, public education, research, training and consultancy in order to further spread and entrench the messages of equality and non-discrimination in society.
3. Throughout the 9-month review process, the EOC thoroughly consulted both Board Members and staff members at different levels. Views from external parties, namely ex-Board Members, were also sought. The changes to the organizational structure were carefully considered by the EOC Board and endorsed at its meeting in December 2014.
4. In respect of the position of the Chief Operating Officer (COO), the post of Chief Executive Officer (CEO) existed, along with that of the Chairperson, when the EOC first came into operation in September 1996. The CEO post was later removed due to a restructuring exercise in 2000 to streamline the EOC's operation. Nevertheless, in a review by the EOC in 2004, as well as an Independent Panel of Inquiry and a review by the Home Affairs Bureau (HAB) in 2005 and 2006 respectively, it was recommended that the posts of the Chairperson and the CEO should be separated, and that the post of the CEO should be reinstated.
5. Later, the Director of Audit pointed out in the Audit Report No. 52 in March 2009 that the results of the past reviews conducted by three different parties (the EOC, the Independent Panel of Inquiry and the HAB) had all pointed to the need to separate the posts of the Chairperson and the CEO, in order to provide an effective system of checks and balances. The Director of Audit recommended that the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs should expedite action on the matter. As such, the re-instatement of the COO post in the current organizational restructuring exercise of the EOC was in line with the recommendation by the Director of Audit. In fact, the EOC has been asked by both the Government and the Legislative Council about the progress of the matter.
6. The additional funding for the COO post was already approved by the Administration a few years ago. As for the other changes to the structure, these are based on the operational needs of the EOC and considerations of creating better synergy between different divisions. There will be no additional staff cost as a result of implementing the new structure, or impact on the resources and positions of middle- and junior-ranking staff.
7. The EOC will closely monitor the impact and effectiveness of the restructuring, as well as staff feedback, upon implementation, and continue to look for ways of further enhancing its corporate governance.
For media enquiries, please contact Ms Lisa CHAN at 2106-2179.
Equal Opportunities Commission
27 February 2015