Striking the Right Balance
Nature seeks symmetry. A right balance between the yin and the yang, the dark and the light. Even the human body defines symmetry of the left with the right side. Similarly, there should be symmetry of the male to the female. Striking this balance has been a tough task for society in general and corporate in particular. Especially in certain cultures where even till date women are not seen as equals.
Yes, we have come a long way from the time that women finally got the right to cast their vote in elections. A lot of progress has been made in this aspect within the corporate sector too. Women are now given the right platform and equal opportunity to excel and rise the corporate ladder including inclusion in the Board Rooms. According to a report published by the executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles, 2017, records show that women accounted for 38.3% of all newly named directors at Fortune 500 companies.
But have we been able to strike the right balance, not just in terms of numbers but also in equal opportunities and recognition?
As per the latest report presented by Catalyst, a global non-profit company that helps organisations accelerate progress for women at work, globally the number of women joining labour force has dwindled since last year. While women’s participation is higher in developed nations, the numbers are fewer in other nations. Women, unlike men, continue to spend more time in performing unpaid work like childcare and housework. A lot more is still to be achieved in closing in this gap further.
How can Corporate Leaders help strike this Balance?
- Take action for equality. Be the role models for diversity and inclusion
- Work towards eliminating the general perception that the pool of female talent is limited
- Include D&I targets/KPIs for senior managers and actively work towards it
- Facilitate mentor-ship programs and network-building opportunities for female candidates who are being considered for senior management or board positions
- Implement initiatives to attract female ex-employees holding management positions back to work
- Celebrate women’s achievements, in turn creating inspirations for others
- Create the right environment for employees to raise awareness against bias, reporting and redressal mechanism for sexual harassment and other grievances
Singapore is the hub of diversity and inclusion. And it leads by example. The highest office of country’s President is held by a woman, Ms. Halimah Yacob. Ms. Ivy Ng, Group CEO of Singhealth, Ms. Cheong Koon Hean, CEO, Housing & Development Board are some of the notable women holding senior positions here. Singapore’s Diversity Action Committee (DAC) was specifically formed with the aim to build up the representation of women directors on Boards of companies. As rightly pointed out by Ms. Goh Swee Chen, former Chairman of Shell companies in Singapore, “Companies that embrace diversity and inclusiveness at all levels of the organisation are more likely to succeed in today’s world”.
A lot has been achieved. But a lot still remains. This International Women’s Day (March 8th) let’s mark the momentum to keep striving and achieve the gender balance.
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