This International Women's Day, I interviewed Shirley Tee, Head of Investment Advisors and Co-Chair of the women's network at Bank of Singapore, and she shared her thoughts on how we can #EmbraceEquity.
Equity can be defined as giving everyone what they need to be successful. The IWD 2023 campaign theme seeks to forge worldwide understanding about why equal opportunities aren’t enough, and a focus on gender equity needs to be part of every society’s DNA.
International Women’s Day belongs to everyone, everywhere. Collectively, we can all help create a diverse, equitable and inclusive world.
1. How can companies strive for more equitable talent retention?
Equity is giving everyone a shoe that fits. Equality is giving everyone a shoe. As a mom to a pair of twin girls, I aspire to be fair and equitable in my distribution of resource and attention. However, does providing the same resource, such as sending them to the same enrichment class, translate to a happier kid? Is it truly in their best interest by ensuring equality? The answer is no, as they are unique individuals with their own strengths and weaknesses. They also have their different areas of interest.
A common pitfall among managers is to assume that providing equal opportunity to our employees will help them to excel in their job and achieve higher motivation at work. However, do we truly understand what are the drivers of motivation for them? It is important for managers to invest time in understanding each employee and to empower them through career coaching or mentoring. We can do more by engaging our talents and finding the right development plan that fits their career path.
2. Within your market/industry sector, what progress have you seen businesses take to progress gender equity?
As the co-chair for the BOS Women’s Network, we drive diversity, equity and inclusion for men and women. We were founded in 2020 and spearheaded by the human resources team to create a diverse and positive working environment for all employees. Our initiatives aim to create a platform to empower women, support their aspirations and enable them to make a substantial and lasting impact within the organisation and in the wider community. Today, the steering committee is formed by 32 diverse professionals within the bank, sitting across multiple geographical locations (Singapore, Hong Kong, Luxembourg, London, Dubai, Philippines, and Malaysia), with many male allies contributing towards our success.
OCBC Group Women Network, a collaboration by the OCBC-BOS WiT Network and BOS Women's Network, curate many events and activities year-round surrounding DEI with the support of the OCBC Group Human Resources.
Bank of Singapore also published our first DE&I investment strategy report - “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion - Beyond a feel-good concept”, ahead of IWD 2023 to raise awareness of the topic among investors and clients.
3. What does being an effective ally for women look like to you?
One who is willing to listen.
One who would advocate for females and even giving the opportunity to share their spotlight.
One who gives credit when credit is due.
In my view, these are the top three attributes of an effective ally for women.
4. What advice would you give aspiring women in the industry you work in?
Be authentic and be who you are.
Be bold to take up challenges.
Show empathy to those around you.
5. What do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership?
I think the most significant barrier to female leadership lies in ourselves. Many organisations have stepped up to be more mindful of the gender split between males and females in the leadership team. That said, we as females also need to be bolder to speak up and step up to take on new challenges. I really like Google’s #IamRemarkable workshops. It is a global movement that empowers everyone, including underrepresented groups, to celebrate their achievements in the workplace and beyond while challenging the social perception around self-promotion. We need to be more comfortable with promoting ourselves and our abilities.