Friday, November 4, 2011

SIM women leadership forum 2011

Was representing YWLC for the SIM women leadership workshop held today. It was informative and made me think deeper on the role of women and men in Singapore society. Just for those who have not been following me: Ywlc stands for the Young Women's Leadership Connection. It is a platform that aims to connect young women leaders and empower them with the aptitude and attitude to lead and serve in society through mentoring, volunteering, workshops.

One major takeaway that I had was:
You do not need to climb the corporate ladder to reach the top to feel successful.
You are successful according to how you define yourself.
Love yourself and others will love you. Respect yourself and others will respect you.

Personally before I had joined YWLC and SCWO, I had no idea on the issues that were pertaining to the women leaders in Singapore. Is it true that there is a gender disparity or is it because we feel insecure as a women? You see majority of leaders on the top ranks especially in the private corporate world to be those that are not married and who have not given their careers break for child bearing. You also hear a number of Gen Y and Gen X mentioning that they need to climb the corporate ladder so children is definitely a NO-NO or that they would rather wait till their career is much stable. Is it so for our society in Singapore? And many who has given birth, puts their family as priority and after a while, feels isolated by the working world and prefers to stay home for the rest of their life, regardless of whether they hold a PHD or higher education. Is there a fear that holds them back?

One of the issue that were brought up today by women leaders:
- Women have less leaders to emulate so they always emulate the males - but the males either find them too emotional or too aggressive. They want to voice out but is uncertain of the way to do so without stepping over the boundaries. Does voicing out mean being emotional?

And the conclusion from the seminar is that gender diversity is not about the issue of gender. It is about you accepting yourself as who you are - a female- and embracing your femininity and using it to your strengths.

And the question to ponder
- Why do we want to balance gender in Singapore senior management?
How might we :
Retain talent
Grow talent
Attract talent

How to engage majority of consumers
Increase sales and shareholders value

How to stop stereotyping
How to promote diversity
How to be more inclusive

How to maximize leadership

How to get more women ready- indicating they want job of leadership positions
How can we encourage more women to be role models
How do we offer more support to women leaders in the society?
How do we create the support network for women
How to help the incumbents pave the way
How to transform our leaders to be more inclusive ? Education?
How to support women to return back to the society after childbearing ?
How to encourage women to retire gracefully? And be proactive in using their expertise to contribute back yo the society?
How can we be more participative - does work environment encourage that?

In summary , Prioritize key issues action steps are :
1. Have more women role models where they are willing to step out and be a mentor. Spend a day every month to chat about the difficulties faced and how to solve it. How to balance their work-family life.

2. Bring policy makers and discuss what works and what don't. How to encourage women leaders in stepping up.

What say you ladies? Is this an issue in our society?

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