WPLA marks International Women’s Day 2015

This year to mark the International Women’s Day, WPLA in collaboration with the LKYSPP Bridging Gender and Policy Group partnered with the leading tech companies to host a panel discussion. The event was widely attended by the students, staff and members of the public.

Photo Courtesy of Bridging GAP Group

The panel discussion focused on “Women Leaders in Technology: Why We Do What We Do?” and featured a panel of four remarkable women leaders from such tech companies as Microsoft, HP, Twitter and ConneXionsAsia.

  • Amelia Agrawal, Regional Director of OEM Marketing, Microsoft
  • Elizabeth Hernandez, Vice President, Corporate Affairs, Asia Pacific & Japan, HP
  • Frederique Covington, International Marketing Director, Twitter
  • Rosaline Chow Koo, Founder and CEO, ConneXionsAsia

Dr. Astrid S. Tuminez was the moderator of the discussion.

The panelists shared their unique personal stories of how they achieved career success in the technology sector and the challenges they encountered along the way, whether the work-life balance is a myth, and how they contributed to the success of their companies.

One of the takeaways of the event relates to the risk women associate with the career in tech: “Are women less risk-taking, therefore less attracted to high-stakes tech industry? There is a steep learning curve that requires some confidence to take, not just in tech. Mentors need to convey to girls that it’s important to take risks.”

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Photo Courtesy of Bridging GAP Group

 

Women Leaders and the New Asian Century

Women Leaders and the New Asian Century[1]

Astrid S. Tuminez, Maria del Mar Garza and Lilia Saetova

Gender equality in Asia has advanced significantly in the last three decades, as measured by the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report. More women in Asia have access to tertiary education and consequently enter the labor market, with a chance to advance to leadership roles. However, a gender gap still persists: the more senior one goes up the leadership ranks, the fewer women there are.  And, in Asia, gender inequality is rooted in entrenched cultural variables such as the tendency to value girls less than boys.  This disparity in valuation of female versus male lives leads to continued female feticide, family decisions to invest less in girls’ than boys’ education, and continuous obstacles to women’s leadership.

To continue the discussion of possible solutions to promoting female leadership in Asia initiated in 2012 with the launch of the Rising to the Top? Report,[2] the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, Microsoft, Rockefeller Foundation and Oxfam brought together senior leaders from government, corporations and non-profits at a symposium in Bangkok, Thailand, in April 2014. While Asia has been advancing economically, it confronts complex problems pertaining to severe inequality, widespread environmental degradation, and intractable conflicts. To effectively address these challenges, Asia needs to tap all of its human and leadership capital, male and female.

At the Bangkok symposium, participants from the government, corporate, and non-profit sectors sought to explain the ongoing problem of gender inequality in leadership in Asia and highlight potential solutions.  Participants from the corporate sector (Microsoft and CIMB) noted that diversity and inclusion are conducive to building a competitive advantage for teams and organizations, and to promoting creativity and innovation in the workplace. Women’s leadership must be at the core of any discussion of diversity and inclusion. A recent Fortune 500 analysis showed that organizations with higher female representation delivered 53% more return on equity to shareholders than those with fewer women[3]. However, to achieve genuine diversity and inclusion, Microsoft’s experience suggests that diversity must begin at the top and must also be part of managers’ performance targets. Generous and supportive maternity leave policies and flexible work conditions for women also help maintain work-life balance and helps women in their child-bearing years to stay in the workplace and continue to advance as leaders. Nonetheless, experience from the financial sector also emphasizes the need for not only institutional change, but, more importantly, change of attitudes. In Singapore, for example, only 30% of corporate leaders think it is important to have women on the board. A shortfall in creating the value proposition for gender diversity in the corporate sector still remains and must be addressed.

Women inspired to pursue careers in the public sector also find it challenging to make it to the top echelons of authority and decision-making.  Research conducted in Thailand revealed that, in many cases, organizations have no discriminatory policies and women perform as well as men.  Women also enter public sector careers at roughly the same numbers as men.  But after a certain point in time, the career paths of men and women diverge: men continue advancing to leadership roles, while women are left behind. One of the main reasons for this is that women continue to bear greater responsibilities at home and, with motherhood, those responsibilities increase intensively.  This is the “first hidden barrier to leadership” that women face. In sum, the unequal distribution of family responsibilities prevents women from moving forward in their careers.

Further evidence suggests that less female representation in leadership roles is not due to lower levels of education among women compared to men; on the contrary, in countries such as Malaysia and Thailand, more women than men are enrolled in universities. However, the overall picture in Asia-Pacific shows that 14% of women enrolled in tertiary education do not work at all and only a negligible number of well-educated women reach leadership positions. These factors are deeply rooted in prevalent cultural norms, values and attitudes, concludes Dr. Juree Vichit-Vadakan from the National Institute of Development Administration of Thailand. In many cases, women do not receive the approval and support at home that they need to enable them to invest more fully in their professional roles. These cultural factors result from a long and large socialization process involving family, school, university and media. Thus, changing cultural values by transforming how people think, perceive and believe will enable a positive shift towards greater gender equality.

In Thailand, continuous advocacy efforts for gender equality have resulted in an 8% increase in women’s participation in the public sector in the last 24 years. Such advocacy work targets three levels: 1) the general public—to increase social acceptance of women’s achievements and changes in gender roles; 2) political parties—to conduct activities prior to elections, generate space to discuss specific policies for women, and increase women’s representation in political parties; and  finally, 3) women candidates—to provide intensive mentoring and training, and to create  networks among elected women leaders and women organizations to create awareness of challenges that women face.

A representative of UNDP emphasized some of the contributions of women as leaders.  Higher female participation in the public sector, for example, helps better prioritize health-related issues in policy-making. Women are also better at creating a collaborative environment within different parties, and their involvement in peace-making processes enhances the chances for long-term success. However, notwithstanding these positive contributions, Asia still lags behind in female participation in the public sector. The 2010 Regional Human Development Report identified three broad areas sustaining this trend: stereotypes of women’s traditional roles, political barriers, and economic barriers. Moreover, the report also suggested that economic development and democracy are a necessary, but not sufficient, solution to women’s participation in the public sector. Examples from Afghanistan and Japan confirm this statement and underline the need for design and intentionality when addressing the issue of gender inequality.

A speaker from UN Women argued that the low participation of women in the public sector is also due to prevalent unconscious bias and gender stereotyping that privileges men over women. A strong and well-documented evidence for this is the persistent wage gap between men and women. Another example is persistent discrimination against women as public sector leaders. To address cultural bias and gender stereotyping in the public sphere, some countries have resorted to affirmative action in the form of quotas for women participants and leaders. In countries where such quotas have been adopted, the number of women in parliament and other elective offices has increased.

Representatives from media emphasized the lack of female representation in leadership roles in their sector. Young female journalists have difficulty finding female leadership role models.  It is particularly important to have more women decision-makers and leaders in media because what they do could potentially promote gender inclusion, educate the general public, and raise the level of debate on such gender-related issues as sexism, teen pregnancy, violence against women and women’s leadership.

Civil society is also a driving force in improving gender diversity in leadership. A representative from Cambodia noted that civil society has underpinned efforts to increase women’s political representation in Cambodia. From 2005 to 2012, the percentage of women elected in local governments increased from 8% to 17%. These figures are encouraging, but more needs to be done.  Many male political leaders in Cambodia remain reluctant to support more women leaders because they view the situation as zero-sum:  if women reach higher levels of authority, men will be left behind.  A discussion is needed to help male leaders appreciate better the unique perspectives and contributions of their female counterparts, and to help advance the notion of healthy competition based on merit rather than gender.

Oxfam, a development organization that works in Asian countries where gender inequality is the largest challenge to poverty reduction, addressed the issue of women residing in rural.  A core challenge these women face is limited access to markets, information, credit and mobility. Oxfam works to empower rural women by investing in rural companies and cooperatives, and providing training to their members. These companies promote women’s participation at all levels, including in decision-making positions. However, culture, including traditional gender roles and traditional beliefs, remain a difficult barrier to overcome. To help overcome cultural variables, Oxfam has established women-led cooperatives, with the goal of changing perceptions of women and their potential contribution as leaders.

Finally, the non-profit sector, while having more women leaders than other sectors, exemplifies vulnerability in leadership.  Salaries offered in non-profits are significantly lower compared to the private or even public sectors. This tends to exclude men from pursuing non-profit careers because the compensation offered is not enough for them to sustain their roles as breadwinners. Thus, the main challenge faced by non-profits has less to do with the underrepresentation of women than with building more savvy and competitive human capital. Women leaders in the non-profit space need to learn better and do more to sustain what they do without having to rely constantly on the good will and generosity of external funding agencies.

To advance women’s leadership and promote greater gender equality in Asia, strong political will and commitment are critical in the private, public and non-profit sectors.  The region has already made progress in gender equality, but it is not enough.  For all of its new affluence, a “rising Asia” can continue to rise in a more sustained manner only if it is able to tap the talents and leadership contributions of all its men and women.

[1] For a full version of the report from which this article is derived, please see the following link: http://lkyspp.nus.edu.sg/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Women-Leaders-and-the-New-Asian-Century_Final.pdf

[2] Tuminez, A. S. (2012). Rising to the top? A report on women’s leadership in Asia.

Available at: http://issuu.com/nuslkyschool/docs/wpla?e=2655212/2688250

[3] Carter, N.M. (2011). The bottom line: Corporate performance and women’s representation on boards.

 

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Mr. Haresh Koobchandani, Managing Director, Microsoft Thailand

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Symposium participants

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Symposium speakers (from left to right): Dr. Maytinee Bhongsvej, Secretary General, Association for the Promotion of the Status of Women, Thailand; Ms. Caitlin Wiesen, Regional Manager, UNDP Asia-Pacific Regional Center; Ms. Roberta Clarke, Regional Director, UN Women Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific; Mr. Jeff Bullwinkel, Associate General Counsel and Director of Legal & Corporate Affairs, Asia Pacific/Japan, Microsoft

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Symposium speakers (from left to right): Ms. Sasiya Sophastienphong, Regional Enterprise Development Program Coordinator, Oxfam; Ms. Chaliya Sophasawatsakul, Global Digital Vision Producer, Oxfam; Ms. Srisak Thaiarry, Executive Director, National Council for Child and Youth Development, Thailand; Ms. Thida Khus, Executive Director, SILAKA Cambodia; Ms. Fern Uennatornwaranggoon, Senior Program Associate, Rockefeller Foundation

 

 

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Symposium participants

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Dr. Astrid S. Tuminez, Regional Director, Legal and Corporate Affairs, Southeast Asia Microsoft

 

 

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Dr. Juree Vichit-Vadakan, Advisor and former Dean, Vice-President and President, National Institute of Development Administration, Thailand

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Symposium participants

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Symposium speakers (from left to right): Ms. Watanan Petersik, Independent Director, CIMB; Ms. Siriyupa Roongrerngsuke, Executive Director and Head of Human Resources Program, The Sasin Graduate Institute of Business Administration, Chulalongkorn University

Ms. Nattha Komolvadhin, TV Journalist, Thai Public Broadcasting Service

 

 

How important are diversity and inclusion to our society?

How important are diversity and inclusion to our society?

TuminezMany talk about incorporating Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) programs into their organisations, but only few implement it for its value.  Dr. Astrid S. Tuminez in an interview with the Daily FT of Sri Lanka  shared her thoughts in this regard and how issues within that can be addressed from a personal, institutional, and policy level.

By Shabiya Ali Ahlam

Q: What are your views on Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) and why are they important?
A: It is interesting that today when you look at corporations in the Asia Pacific, practically everyone has a D&I program. If you ask corporate executives, the usual answer would be that it is about competition in human talent. So corporations have to survive and thrive and if they don’t have the human talent, then their competitors will blow them out of the waters. It is very much about human talent, who has the cutting edge, who understands the market better, who has the best talent and who can sell.
However, in addition to that, I always argue that it is also a question of values. D&I are important values in a sense that if you want a fairer, equitable and a more just society, it is imperative to look at this area. It is about appreciating all of the people and human capital, gender, ethnicity, points of view, perspective, sexual orientation and other aspects. And inclusion means that you can take that pool of diverse human talent, develop and deploy it to its fullest potential in an organisation or country.

Q: Are more leaders adding D&I into their agenda?
A: In the corporate sector, absolutely. There is no question about that, and then again it is about that search for competitive edge. The fastest uptake in this regard is in the corporate world because everyone understands that you must compete for human talent and the consumers are also 50% or more women. So you need to find a way to connect to that market. In terms of governance as well people are realising that the voice of women is important because they bring a different perspective to the table. That’s the private sector.
When it comes to the public sector, Asia has done well in terms of very visible women leaders as heads of state. Sri Lanka had its first female prime minister and president quite early. The Philippines had two heads of state who are women, so did Pakistan, India, and now South Korea. In that sense, Asia has had female leaders at very high and visible levels. There is diversity in gender. But going down that is not the case in the public sector. There is still a long way to go.
Some leaders have used quotas as a tool in the public sector. In some areas that has worked but it is also noted that these are used to put women in as tokens, rather than giving them real decision making authority. So the bottom line is that there is progress in terms of leaders understanding diversity and inclusion, particularly in the private sector but we still have a long way to go to bring it across the board for leaders to really walk the talk.

“There is progress in terms of leaders understanding diversity and inclusion, particularly in the private sector but we still have a long way to go to bring it across the board for leaders to really walk the talk. Right now D&I is sort of a trend, a fad. Everybody has a program. However, end of the day what gets measured is what gets done
At the end of the day we don’t have to be perfect. We should learn to live with imperfections. There will be times where we do great things, and there will be times where we feel it’s too much. We should not be hard on ourselves. It is a part of our journey”
– Microsoft Corporation Regional Director Legal and Corporate Affairs Southeast Asia Dr. Astrid S. Tuminez

Q: What can be done in the public sector to achieve this?
A: The quota system is a good way of achieving this. Quotas can sometimes be controversial since people feel that it will be use to put in women who are not qualified. That is not necessarily the case. The World Bank has done a study that shows that women who are put in certain positions through quotas are not necessarily unqualified. This can help in the public sector since it is the fastest way to increase the representation of women and how you structure that is really important. The system can be there for few years to forever.
Another trend in the public sector is gender responsive budgeting. What that means is that for every budget that a government puts together, it must ask ‘what is the impact on males versus females?’ and ‘who does it favour more?’
In countries like the Philippines, it ranks fifth in the Global Gender Gap Index of the World Economic Forum out of 136 countries. So the Philippines to be at the fifth position is a huge and amazing achievement. One of the things that I learn from the Philippines Government is that for all of their agencies, 5% of the budget must be dedicated for gender equal measures in policies. When you think about that it is not very much, but it certainly is a great start.

Q: It is observed that many well-meaning diversity and inclusion fail because organisations behave defensively. What is your view on this?
A: Yes. Well-meaning diversity inclusion programs, what do we mean by that? Right now D&I is sort of a trend, a fad. Everybody has a program. However, at the end of the day what gets measured is what gets done. When you have a D&I program, do you actually change the practice within the corporate culture.
First is that in terms of hiring, do you actually measure leaders where you are hiring men all the time or do you have slates where there are female candidates? Second, do you have reasonable or maybe even generous maternity and paternity leave so that both men and women can mutually support each other at home and at the work place? If the family falls apart, the workplace will fall apart and women will exit. Third is, do you reward managers and leaders who hire, develop, and retain female talents?
To give an example of the company that I work for, which is Microsoft, in Thailand 55% of our managers are women. When you talk to the Country Head of Thailand, he will say that this is a central priority to have that kind of diversity. When leaders walk the talk, when they are graded for it and they are measured on their performance on D&I, the program become a meaningful thing. It doesn’t become an exercise that is for show only, or is a defensive thing where the corporate executive says that it is about meritocracy. You actually have to make it a value that people believe in and not just pay lip service to it.

Q: How can the two elements be added to the goals of an HR leader?
A: HR leaders in my opinion play quite an important role. Although before going to the HR leader you have to go to the CEO. No matter how hard HR leaders try to add diversity and inclusion, if the CEO or the people reporting to the CEO don’t value it, it is not going to work. If the leaders buy into it, what HR leaders can do is add D&I in all the performance management systems. In terms of leave they can support flexibility, which women will really welcome.
When I speak about this topic I usually say it’s not that we have malevolent people, it is often because people don’t think about it. Here is where HR comes in. They can further train women on negotiation, building confidence, mentorship and other similar areas. While these are all really good buzz words in corporates, what is really being done under each of these elements should be questioned. That is where you can grade if HR is doing the things that are advancing D&I or not.

Q: What can be done to bring more women into leadership roles?
A: I would point out three things for this. The first one is personal. I think the women herself has to take responsibility for her ambitions and what she wants to contribute to the society. The personal responsibility comes with choosing a support system within your family, which is where it begins.
Second is in terms of policy. There are two elements that I would emphasise. First is childcare that is dependable, reliable and of high quality. The best example for this is France. It has solved its problem by keeping women in the workforce while also encouraging women to have children. France has the highest fertility rate in Europe and this is primarily because the Government puts in place tremendous support for women in their childbearing years. They spend 2.7% of their GDP on outright cash payments for the mothers, and 1.6% of GDP on child care solutions.
The second area where policy can make a difference is in elder care. This is because in Asia, we are expected to take care of our elderly people. So childcare and eldercare where we can support and alleviate the pressure that women feel so they can be good mothers on one hand and great professionals on the other. That is that constant clash. So if we can give support on those two fronts, we will make a huge headway in encouraging women to make it all the way to the top of their professions.

Q: What is the situation in this regard in South Asia? 
A: It varies. A problem in quite a few Asian countries, especially in the poorer countries, is that they have mandated maternity leave but they are not able to implement or fund it. So there is a disconnect with what is on paper, what is legislated, and what actually gets done. Across the board for maternity and paternity leave, there is more work to be done in Asia.
Sri Lanka for example ranks 55 out of 136 countries in the Gender Gap index, but in terms of leadership it ranks poorly. In terms of senior officials, legislators, and senior managers, Sri Lanka’s index is 0.32.
Other thing for women is safety when going to work. In India it’s not a secret. Six of every 10 qualified women do not go to work, and part of that is due to safety. These are some very real problems and they need to be addressed.

Q: What are the challenges they face when rising to the top?
A: There is what is called the leaking pipeline. In most of the Asian Pacific countries the dropout rate from middle to senior management is as high as 70%. When we ask ourselves why that is happening, a lot of it goes back to the childbearing years where women really need support. In the conference hosted by SLASSCOM which I was addressing earlier today, a successful IT personality said that when she had her first and only child, her boss did not allow her to take three months’ leave. If that is the attitude, then it wears the women down. They are put in front of very tough choices. That is definitely a challenge we need to address.
If we don’t address those childbearing years and enhancing support, that dropout rate will continue and we won’t be able to leverage Asia’s human capital.

Q: What can they do as individuals to tackle this?
A: As individuals I think it is really important that successful women become mentors ourselves. In Singapore I belong to something called Women in Business. This includes organisations such as CISCO, Intel, Oracle and Microsoft. We commit ourselves for so many months of mentoring for a selected group of high potential women. I and most of my fellow colleagues have children and most of us have gone through the struggle of work-life balance and we share that.
The second is that as individuals we need to clarify what our choices are and why we do what we do. The big why in our lives need to be answered.
The third is the importance of cultivating very powerful will, since at the end, to sustain a career in leadership you are talking about a 20-30 year timeframe. Most women do not hit the sweet spot in leadership until their 50s.
Also, at the end of the day, we don’t have to be perfect. We should learn to live with imperfections. There will be times where we do great things, and there will be times where we feel it’s too much. We should not be hard on ourselves. It is a part of our journey.

Q: What is your message to the aspiring working women out there?
A: To the younger girls I would say that at this point in time we are in a globalised world. We are in a world with complex problems. So for them I would say that this is the world you are coming into. You have help in terms of technology, rising GDP, better education, so think about what you want to do and who your role models are going to be.
To the older generation I would say that it is important that we look to this younger generation and give them a better pathway so that the full human potential of girls and boys can be realised in the societies that we are creating.

For the original article, please follow the link:

 http://www.ft.lk/2014/05/28/how-important-are-diversity-and-inclusion-to-our-society/

Study Reveals Pay Gap is Because of Gender, Not Jobs

A recent New York Times article defies the idea that women are paid less because they choose to be in occupations with lower paying wages. Claire Caine Miller, the author of the article, provides evidence that gender plays a more important role in the equation by stating:

“But a majority of the pay gap between men and women actually comes from differences within occupations, not between them — and widens in the highest-paying ones like business, law and medicine, according to data from Claudia Goldin, a Harvard University labor economist and a leading scholar on women and the economy.”

Source: WPLA.

Source: WPLA.

Furthermore, “There is a belief, which is just not true, that women are just in bad occupations and if we just put them in better occupations, we would solve the gender gap problem,” Dr. Goldin said. One of these factors is the number of hours of required facetime. Occupations with a workplace flexibility in terms of hours and location have less disparity. 

According to Goldin, “The gender gap in pay would be considerably reduced and might vanish altogether if firms did not have an incentive to disproportionately reward individuals who labored long hours and worked particular hours.” The article prescribes work flexibility as a key to ensuring less women leave the workforce in sectors, such as finance, where there is a large gender gap.

To read the full article, click on the link.

Source: New York Times.

Study: Female Representation in Top Asian Companies Lags Behind Western Counterparts

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Source: Harvard Business Review.

According to a recent study by the 20-First consultancy group, 60% of the top U.S. companies now have at least two women on their executive committees.

However, Asian companies have yet to see equal female representation in their executive committees. The survey revealed top Asian (including Australian) companies are “still dominated by men.”  Close to 90% of the Asian companies surveyed have less than two women on their leadership team.

Click on the image to read the Harvard Business Review article.

 

How the Vietnam War Made Female CEOs Better than Men

Vinamilk CEO Mai Kieu Lien (3rd, L) takes a group of government officials on a tour of a Vinamilk factory.

Vingroup JSC’s Le Thi Thu Thuy says she brought a mother’s perspective to Vietnam’s largest mall, adding an indoor water park and ice rink to make it a weekend destination for Hanoi’s 6.8 million residents.
“There was nowhere for the whole family to go,” said Thuy, 39, who has two children and oversaw the opening of Vincom Mega Mall Royal City as chief executive officer of Vingroup before stepping down last month to run the firm’s new online unit. Crowds of kids and young couples gathered at the rink on a recent weekend, suggesting her plan is paying off.
Women leaders like Thuy are getting rewarded by investors in Vietnam’s $58 billion stock market, the best performer in Asia this year. An index of companies currently led by female CEOs has almost tripled in the past five years, gaining about twice as much as the nation’s benchmark VN-Index, according to data compiled by Paris-based Intelligent Financial Research & Consulting and Bloomberg.
Female executives’ success in Vietnam may stem in part from skills honed during decades of war that ended with the fall of Saigon in 1975, according to Thuy. With many of the men away from home fighting, women took over running businesses and managing family finances in addition to raising children. While women control less than 7 percent of the nation’s corporate board seats, that’s still the second-highest proportion among Southeast Asian countries tracked by IFRC after the Philippines.
To access the full article, click here
Thanh Nien News. April 4, 2014.

McKinsey Survey Finds Women are As Ambitious As Men

A recently released survey by McKinsey reveals women are as, if not more, ambitious as men. According to a recent article highlighting the 2013 Women Matter  results, “roughly the same ratio of male and female executives in the survey (83 percent versus 82 percent) have the desire to reach a top management position.” One of the key findings is that women are more likely to express a strong desire to advance in their organizations. 83 percent of female respondents, compared to 74 percent of male respondents said they have a strong desire to advance to the next level in their organizations.

Another key findings of the reports is the differences in how male and female executives view women’s leadership potential. Over 90 percent of survey respondents (of both genders) said they believe women can lead just as well as men. However, women responding to the survey were more likely to strongly agree with the statement.

Credit: McKinsey & Company, "Women Matter 2013—Gender diversity in top management: Moving corporate culture, moving boundaries"

Source: The Washington Post.

The survey sheds light in the obstacles women perceive to have in the workplace. A lot of the recent debate is centered around the idea that women do not feel that women don’t have confidence in the system in which they work. The survey results show that women see more obstacles in reaching top-management positions. This is important given perceptions may influence women’s decision to opt out if they believe they are not provided with the same opportunities of advancement as men.

Credit: McKinsey & Company, "Women Matter 2013—Gender diversity in top management: Moving corporate culture, moving boundaries"

Credit: McKinsey & Company, “Women Matter 2013—Gender diversity in top management: Moving corporate culture, moving boundaries”

Source: The Washington Post.

To learn more about women’s advancement in the workplace, visit Women Matter.

 

Narrowing the C-Suite Gender Gap

A recent Harvard Business Review article provides valuable advice to female leaders. The author states               that although the gender gap in mid-level management has narrowed in recent years, less than 5 in 100 Fortune 500 CEOs are women. Recent research concludes women fall short in becoming intentonal and specific in their efforts to drive their careers, factors impacting their ability to secure a place in the C-suite.

The article quotes a recent study that analyzed the performance of 12 of the highest ranking female executives in large, global organizations and 1 Fortune 500 company. The research concluded that “like their male counterparts, the highest-performing women had in common a strong orientation toward achievement. But more than men, this was manifested as a lifelong focus on continuous learning, which helped them prepare for the roles they took as they moved upward.”

However, these traits did not guarantee proactive career management. Some of the factors for this trend include women’s failure to be specific in their goals to drive their career up a particular ladder, their hesitation to take promotions or international assignments and failure to speak up for opportunities to advance their career.

The author offers valuable advice for women:

“Those who want to move all the way up must create opportunities to understand how the organization works, how it makes money, and who its key people are. And they need to do so early in their careers.”
The article provides valuable advance for career advancements as well as the role of managers in promoting talent in their organizations. Read more at HBR.

A Roadmap For Aspiring Female Leaders: Recently Launched ICEDR Report

Think you have what it takes to make it to the top?

The recently launched ICEDR Research focuses on helping rising women leaders who aspire to reach the upper ranks of global corporations. The report titled “Taking Charge,” draws insights from interviews with more than 60 high-powered women.

The goal of the report is to provide a roadmap for aspiring young female leaders by outlining the secrets of women who have defied the odds and have succeeded in leadership positions at renowned global corporations. The report focuses on three ways women can take charge of their professional and personal life: Explore, Own and Replay.

Source: International Consortium for Executive Development Research.

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Read the full report: ICEDR.

 

Microsoft Taiwan Empowers the Next Generation of Female Entrepreneurs

One of the goals of the Women’s Pathways to Leadership in Asia (WPLA) project is to highlight successful initiatives promoting the advancement of women in the Asia Region. Microsoft is an industry leader in promoting diversity in the workplace and fostering female talent.

In Taiwan, Microsoft has launched a GIRLS Power Up internship programme. The goal of this leading internship program is to partnership with academic institutions to help young and aspiring businesswomen to become entrepreneurs. GIRLS Power Up was first initiated at the Taipei Chengshih University of Science and Technology (TPCU), National Chung Hsing University and WuFeng University.

Taipei Chengshih University of Science and Technology (TPCU) students Liao Yu-Syuan and Hsieh You-Qi shared their experiences at the Microsoft GIRLS Power Up press conference

Photo courtesy of Microsoft Citizenship Asia Pacific

According to a recent publication by Microsoft Citizenship Asia Pacific,  approximately “180 female students have participated in the programme and were successfully matched to 36 ‘micro-internship’ teams to experience running a business venture and hone their entrepreneurial interests.” Throughout the course of the program, participants receive valuable skills training including social networking and online marketing skills needed for young women to succeed in their future ‘micro business venture.’

In a recent press conference highlighting the progress of GIRLS Power Up Programme, Sally Wang, a successful female entrepreneur told the audience how her company gained from offering these internship opportunities by stating, “The students that I’ve worked with are fully dedicated to this programme, and I am really thankful to have this chance to interact with this group of students. I am most impressed by their positive attitude and creative marketing ideas.”

Young female entrepreneurs benefit from the practical experience they gain through the program. Hsieh You-Qi, a business administration degree student at TPCU and current participant of the program, expressed the value of this experience by saying that “Thanks to GIRLS Power Up, I now have a deeper understanding of many aspects of entrepreneurship. I hope to use what I’ve learned to fulfill my dreams of setting up my own business in the future.” In particular, the program has provided her the skills to differentiate her product offerings and leverage social media to effectively market new products.

According to Vincent Shih, Legal and Corporate Affairs Director at Microsoft Taiwan, “The main purpose of the GIRLS Power Up programme is to provide a platform for young Taiwanese women to take the first step in digital learning through small-scale business ventures, which entail less risk and help them develop their entrepreneurial potential. This internship programme is designed to enable them to pick up the critical skills and knowledge to cope with the challenges of operating a business venture.” Thanks to these innovative initiatives, Microsoft is empowering the next generation of female entrepreneurs and empowering women in the Asia Region.
For more information
For more information on the GIRLS Power Up programme please visit the following link: Taiwan’s GIRLS Power Up programme