EOC Releases Findings of Equal Opportunities Awareness Survey 2021
The Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) today (11 November 2021) released the findings of the Equal Opportunities Awareness Survey 2021, which found that about 90% of the general public perceived the issues relating to “sexual harassment” and “disability” were of high importance in the forthcoming equal opportunity (EO) work. In addition, half of the general public considered age discrimination were “very/quite prevalent” in Hong Kong. Among those responding general public who had experienced discrimination or harassment during 12 months before enumeration, relatively more people (54.3%) had experienced age discrimination.
Mr Ricky CHU Man-kin, Chairperson of the EOC said, “To address the needs in strengthening the work of anti-sexual harassment, the EOC established a dedicated Anti-Sexual Harassment Unit in November 2020 to enhance the effort in combating sexual harassment through prevention, research, policy advocacy, policy guidance and training. We also launched an Anti-Sexual Harassment Hotline to provide first port of call service for those affected by sexual harassment. We will continue to put effort into this area in order to meet public’s needs.”
There was an increase in the perceived prevalence of age discrimination among the responded public over the past 10 years (49.9% in 2021 vs. 41% in 2012). In addition, one in eight of the general public (12.7%) claimed that they had experienced discrimination or harassment during the 12 months before enumeration (higher than 9.1% in 2015). Among them, relatively more people had experienced age discrimination (54.3%), followed by sex discrimination (20.8%) and sexual harassment (16.2%).
“Age discrimination is the most common type of discrimination encountered by those reported to have experienced discrimination or harassment in Hong Kong in both Equal Opportunities Awareness Surveys conducted in 2015 and 2021. Therefore, the research team suggested that the Government should consider conducting regular large-scale prevalence surveys of age discrimination to collect public views and launching public consultation on introducing legal protection against discrimination on the ground of age,” said Dr Rizwan ULLAH, Convenor of Policy, Research and Training Committee of the EOC .
Dr Ferrick CHU Chung-man, Executive Director (Operations) of the EOC said, “The top priority area that the public perceived as a very / quite important forthcoming equal opportunities issue was ‘to urge the Government to amend Disability Discrimination Ordinance (DDO) by introducing a distinct duty to make reasonable accommodation for persons with disability’ (92.5%). This suggestion was identified as one of the higher priority areas for legislative amendments by the EOC’s Report on Discrimination Law Review made in 2016. Given a strong social consensus observed in the findings of this 2021 Survey, legislative reform in this area and additional resources for public education would further show the commitment of the Government to issues of equal opportunities and anti-discrimination.”
This is the sixth similar survey that the EOC has conducted since 1998. The aim of the survey is to understand the latest public perception about EO issues and the work of the EOC. The survey was carried out between February and April 2021 and a total of 1 501 respondents aged 15 or above were successfully interviewed via telephone interviews.
Overall anti-discrimination attitude
The survey showed that the general public indicated a positive attitude towards EO. The responding public were asked whether they agreed with ten examples related to various forms of discrimination or equal opportunities, and their attitude towards these examples was calculated into an index. The overall index of anti-discrimination attitude was 60.7 (100 denotes the highest). The public’s attitude towards examples related to discrimination on the grounds of sex, marital status and breastfeeding tended to be more certain. However, respondents’ anti-discrimination attitude towards the examples related to disability discrimination varied and was less certain.
Public’s perceived prevalence of different aspects of discrimination in Hong Kong
Regarding the prevalence of discrimination in Hong Kong, half of the general public considered that residency status (55.2%), race (51.5%) and age (49.9%) discrimination were prevalent in Hong Kong, while only 32.5% and 26.9% of them perceived sex discrimination and family status discrimination as prevalent respectively.
Results from the current survey demonstrated residency status discrimination was perceived as prevalent in Hong Kong as there is no protection from discrimination on grounds of nationality, citizenship, or residency status. It is suggested that the Government might consider introducing protection from discrimination on ground of residency status under the Race Discrimination Ordinance. “The EOC has conducted an internal study to explore how to strengthen the protection of anti-discrimination laws to deal with discrimination, harassment and vilification against mainland residents and new immigrants in Hong Kong. The EOC has submitted the findings of our report to the Government and will continue to follow up with the Government on this matter,” Mr Ricky CHU supplemented.
Awareness of the current discrimination ordinances in Hong Kong
A good proportion of the general public were aware of current ordinances prohibiting discrimination on the grounds of disability (68.0%), race (61.8%) and sex (61.8%), while relatively few could correctly point out that the Family Status Discrimination Ordinance (25.8%) has been enacted. Many of the public (65.7%) knew that the current law did not provide protection from residency status discrimination, while fewer knew that the current law did not cover discrimination against sexual orientation (48.4%) and age (46.9%).
Awareness of the EOC and evaluation of the EOC’s work
In the areas of awareness of the EOC and evaluation on the performance of the EOC, the awareness level of the EOC remained at a very high level (97.2%). The public’s view on the overall performance of the EOC tended to be positive with an average score of 6.30 (from 1 denoting “very bad” to 10 denoting “very good”). About 65% of the respondents scored 6 to 10 on the overall performance of the EOC.
Compared with the results of the previous survey conducted in 2015, the proportion of respondents who agreed that the EOC “initiates suggestions on policy changes for promoting EO and anti-discrimination” (62.7% in 2021 vs. 57.8% in 2015) increased by about 5 percentage points.
Further analysis showed that the more the public recognised the work of the EOC in certain aspects, the better their perception on the overall performance of the EOC. These aspects were: “keeps pace with the development of the society”, “responsive to the demands of the society on promoting EO and anti-discrimination” and “initiates suggestions on policy changes for promoting EO and anti-discrimination”.
The EOC has made the following recommendations with reference to the findings of the survey:
Further promotion for the Family Status Discrimination Ordinance and its scope of protection, as it is the least known anti-discrimination law among the general public;
As relatively more members of the public were aware of the EOC’s TV Announcements in the Public Interest, advertisements in the MTR and channels on the Internet, the EOC can further use these media as means of promotion and education; and
To address the expectations of the public, the EOC may make reference to the top three aspects which were highly correlated to the evaluation of the overall performance in planning its work and strategies, i.e. “keeps pace with the development of the society”, “responsive to the demands of the society on promoting EO and anti-discrimination” and “initiates suggestions on policy changes for promoting EO and anti-discrimination”.
Please refer to the following link for the details of the survey report:
Equal Opportunities Commission
11 November 2021
(From left) Dr Ferrick CHU Chung-man, Executive Director (Operations) of the EOC; Dr Rizwan ULLAN, Convener of the Policy, Research and Training Committee of the EOC; Ms Dorothy CHUNG, Associate Research Director of the Mercado Solutions Associates Ltd. (MSA) and Mr Tommy Leung, Executive Director of the MSA presented the findings of the “Equal Opportunities Awareness Survey 2021” at the press conference.