DAY 2- Bridging Asia’s gender gaps: Building future on HIStory and HERstory
Comparing the differences between men and women in their approach towards leadership and the impact on economies, this session explore how countries, businesses and communities can learn from each other to close this gender gap. The panel leading this discussion includes Chiara Corazza, Managing Director of the Women’s Forum for the Economy & Society, Heng Chee Chan, Ambassador at Large for Ministry of Foreign Affairs Singapore, Hayden Majajas, Head of Diversity & Inclusion APAC Bloomberg, H.E Eva Nguyen Binh, Ambassador of France to Cambodia and Helene Von Reis, CEO and President IKEA Japan.
Ambassador Chan started by saying that men and women view the things of the world differently. For example, when we look at the topic of security and stability, men would most likely focus security on military assets and efforts, while women would take a more inclusive, well-rounded perspective which would include not just military, but also economic, investment and development efforts. She quoted a simple story of how Hillary Clinton started an alliance to review the safety of cookstoves and come up with solutions for clean and efficient solutions because millions, mostly women, die annually from lung and heart ailments caused by cooking with solid fuels, according to the WHO. (You can read more about it here).
Another example was given in the context of negotiation. Women bring a more natural sense of cultural intelligence to the negotiation table compared to men. Why so? Mothers are able to teach and impact culture on their children more naturally, and anthropologists call women “culture carriers”. Women have a greater ability to understand the cultural situations and navigate through cultural differences more effectively. By tapping on the cultural intelligence that women carry, more positive impact could be done in our businesses and communities.
In Bloomberg, they believed that driving inclusion and embracing diversity is about maximising performance in teams and do have an impact on the bottomline of the company. And it is not only limited to gender equality, but also other forms of diversity like cultural, age and disability. Hayden thinks it is about giving a voice to all people groups so that diversity of ideas and thoughts can be used more productively to drive tangible results. Otherwise, it is easy for like-minded, similar people to default into group-thinking, and this is not what he believes is healthy for an organisation. Bloomberg created in 2016 the Bloomberg Gender Equality Index (GEI) to help investors and companies evaluate reputation, risk and performance with a standardised gender index which serves to bring transparency to the opaque areas of social data. Hopefully these data can be used to help companies measure their gender equality efforts and bridge the gap between male and female in the workplace.
When we think about the actual impact, a McKinsey study showed that companies with 30% female leadership could expect to add up to 6 percentage points to its net margin when compared with a similar business with no female leaders. So it is time for companies to take a more committed approach to encourage diversity and start to put in place some concrete strategies that would ultimately help in their bottom-line.
By Rachel Kee
As part of our efforts to engage young and emerging leaders, students and alumni from INSEAD, HEC, Sciences Po attended and reflected on sessions over the course of the two-day Women’s Forum Singapore. Opinions expressed are solely writers’ own and do not express the views or opinions of the Women’s Forum.