SHOULD WOMEN PROMOTE THEMSELVES MORE?
Christina Ong: Women who are interested, should, especially if they feel they could add value.
Teo Swee Lian: In Asian culture, women might be reluctant to promote themselves, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t many board-ready women. They might worry that they will be perceived as shrill, overly ambitious or neglecting the family, but men are usually not judged in this way.
IS IT ENOUGH TO JUST HAVE SENIOR WOMEN IN MANAGEMENT ROLES WITHOUT HAVING WOMEN DIRECTORS?
Christina Ong: It’s different. For example, many listed companies have a good representation of women in senior management. But having women representation on their boards is important too.
I look at the contributions of women in senior management. And I myself bring along a different perspective when taking a view on issues. For example, a lady on the remuneration committee may look at remuneration and contributions through a different lens than a male director.
Teo Swee Lian: There’s a big difference between the role of the board and the senior management. One doesn’t compensate for the other. You can’t say that just because you have women on the C-suite you don’t need women directors. They perform different functions. Ideally, you would have a blend of both.
SHOULD QUOTAS BE IMPLEMENTED?
Christina Ong: I think there is a danger of mandating tokenism. “There’s a quota I have to fill and therefore I’ll just get a lady.” I don’t know if that’s the right approach.
I read in an article that International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde had previously said she didn’t believe in quotas. But she has had a re-think and that maybe quotas should be imposed because gender diversity is not happening.
Teo Swee Lian: Having been a regulator, before you come out with a policy or a rule, you will think whether or not there is a market failure. And usually if the market can take care of this particular risk or this particular gap, that is actually the best solution. But sometimes the market might need a nudge, so while I’m not in favour of quotas, if it really takes too long or if there really isn’t enough awareness in the minds of people, then the threat of a quota might actually be a catalyst that’s needed.