Gender diversity is important when it comes to decision making, talent attraction, corporate governance, and risk management, which eventually leads to stronger corporate performance and sustainability however, women are not fully represented equally across Asia. In our 2-part series for this International Women’s Day, we speak to five successful women in Finance, Sports and Sport Management, to hear their views on equal-representation of women in the workplace and how they have gone beyond the glass ceiling to inspire and promote gender equality.
Why is gender diversity important in boards and how women representation in senior management help companies perform better?
Ms Ong Wei Wei, Chief Financial Officer of OKP Holdings Limited, oversees the Group’s finance and corporate functions, covering financial reporting, treasury, tax, and corporate secretarial duties and investor relations. She is a Fellow of the Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants and Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (United Kingdom). She is also a member of the Institute of Internal Auditors, Inc. (Singapore Chapter) and an associate member of the Singapore Institute of Directors. One of Wei Wei’s achievements was being conferred the Best Chief Financial Officer Award at the Singapore Corporate Awards 2012 under the category for companies with less than $300 million in market capitalisation. Shareholders and institutional investors recognise and see gender diversity as an important factor for board effectiveness and as a critical pillar of good corporate governance. Gender diversity affords varied perspectives in the handling of issues. This ultimately builds a more robust discourse that takes in multiple viewpoints, which helps to prevent groupthink from settling in. Past studies have shown that companies with gender diversity on boards and in their senior management teams tend to be better governed and managed. This will translate into better valuation and higher shareholder value in the long term.
Different perspectives and differences in points of views and approaches are an asset to a company. This is critical in helping companies to identify and seize new opportunities. Women also tend to be more meticulous and stronger in soft skills which often lead to improved teamwork and increased creativity. A more feminine touch could help diffuse tension in circumstances which call for collaboration instead of competition. Women are more inclined to think win-win rather than winner-takes-all.
How have women contributed significantly to sports and sports management to achieve outstanding achievements beyond Singapore?
Both Michelle and Wendy have observed better gender representation in sports and sports management.
Ms Michelle Lok, Captain of the Singapore Women’s National Floorball team. Michelle has been playing competitive floorball during her Polytechnic and University days. Her team won the God Medal at the 2019 SEA Games and achieved the best-ever position of 12th Place at the Women’s World Floorball Championships.
More opportunities are given to sportswomen in Singapore today and they’re more exposed than before. And, more can be done to promote both male and female athletes equally – especially through social media, where most gather and share information these days. However, sportsmen and sportswomen present themselves differently, so opportunities arising from different exposures and circumstances can cause them to be represented differently.
Ms Wendy Kuan, General Manager of Singapore Floorball Association (SFA), prior to this, she was the General Manager for Singapore Bowling Federation (SBF) for more than 13 years. She is member of the AOFC Working-committee and is leading the New Members Committee. She was recently re-elected as one of the 3 members of the International Floorball Federation (IFF) Ethics Commission for 2020-2023.
There are a few female High-Performance Coaches who have made a difference to the Singapore Women’s Floorball Team including Jill Quek, Sonia Chia, Jaime Chong and Louise Khng. Louise is the first woman and first for floorball coach to win the prestigious Best Coach of the Year 2020 award. Singapore also has a pair of Women International Referees – Carmen Teo and Lin Binbin, who are also the Honorary Treasurer of SFA. For sports manage more women are seen helming senior positions in National Sports Associations, Asian Federation and World Federation. These organisations have actively encouraged and motivated women to step up.
On International Women’s Day, what is one key message you would share to inspire women to make their mark in respective fields?
Wei Wei – Working women are encouraged to be bold and unafraid of charting new terrains or trying new things. Be passionate in all that you undertake, which is the key to excelling in what you do. At the same time, embrace continuous learning to stay relevant. Learn something new every day, and you would open yourself to new horizons. Take charge, be assertive but not too forceful in your interactions with others. As the saying goes, ‘pick your battles’ and I would add, do so wisely, in order to achieve your goals.
Wendy – Time is the key because women often have to juggle between work and family while at the same time be expected to excel in their job.
Michelle – Women who wish to pursue a sport career as a national player to not only train their physical fitness but also focus on mental fitness.
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