As part of Williams Lea Tag’s continued commitment to equality, we recently held a Panel discussion in Singapore as part of our global speaker programme to celebrate International Women’s Day. Our Singapore panel featured a number of clients, affiliates and leaders from our own business including:
Geraldine Yip, Head of Marketing, Asia (Financial & Risk), Thomson Reuters
Peggy Lavercombe, Category & Shopper Marketing Director, APL, GSK
Erica Kerner, VP Marketing & Communications APAC, Tiffany & Co
Claire Cavanagh, HR Director APAC, Williams Lea Tag
Toby Codrington, APAC CEO & Global CMO who asked a number of challenging questions to a packed room, moderated the Singapore panel. The key themes that came out of the discussion were:
1. It’s about respect not being liked
It is a very human characteristic to want to be liked, and in the workplace the perception your colleagues have of you matters. Being liked should not be confused with being respected; there is a fine line between the two but to be successful in business you need to be respected. Authenticity is a key driver in gaining respect and ensuring you maintain true to yourself and your beliefs will help you achieve respect.
2. Time and a place for gender quotas
It is a fact that there is higher male representation on boards particularly in APAC countries. Panellists posed the view that there is a time and a place for gender quotas to address the gender imbalance on boards. However, they are not a long-term fix, quotas need to be monitored and restricted to limited timeframes. While such progressive initiatives are key for change to happen fast, businesses need to ensure that roles are given to candidates on individual merit.
3. Vulnerability when returning from maternity leave
Panellists cited the issues they have experienced or seen colleagues experience when they returned to work after maternity leave. It can be the most vulnerable time in a women’s career where they are reaffirming their presence in the workplace, while dealing with the physical and emotional exertion of motherhood and the expectation of work. Businesses need to ensure that mothers returning to work have adequate support in place to help the transition. It is evident that there is a drop off of female talent at the senior manager and director level, of which motherhood plays a factor and businesses need to meet this head on to ensure their female talent remain in the workforce.
4. Work is a marathon not a sprint
When talking about advice our panellists wished they could give their younger selves, they highlighted that they felt they had tried to achieve everything too quickly. They reminded the room that work is a marathon not a sprint, and that they could have achieved equally as much without the added pressure they applied to themselves with the belief that they constantly needed to move up the next salary bracket or to the next job title to define their success. You should really take time to enjoy the moment as it happens, recognise your success in the present and not fixate on the future.
5. Crossing cultural boundaries
It is evident that cultural nuances play a key role in the perception of gender equality. What one person equates as equal, might not necessarily be considered equal to another. Societal norms, traditional gender stereotypes and upbringing all play apart in what influences individuals opinions on diversity and inclusiveness. A cultural shift in some markets needs to happen in order to see further progression for greater equality for all. You only have to look at the disparity in maternity and paternity leave and at the lack of support for working parents to see that there are equality issues embedded deep within cultures that need to be addressed not only in business but also as a wider societal agenda.
The Singapore panel was an insightful look at the way our senior female panellists have tackled diversity issues in the workplace, along with thought provoking advice on how both businesses and individuals can press for progress in the future. Williams Lea Tag was privileged to host an event in honour of International Women’s Day and will continue to support equality initiatives globally now and in the future.
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