Social Mixer 2024 Singapore
Great get-together for 'Great Breakup': Harnessing the power of the pack

Great get-together for 'Great Breakup': Harnessing the power of the pack

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This post is sponsored by SmartOSC.

It may take you by surprise at how many innovations in leading companies that female leaders are tackling – think Grab, ShopBack, and Bumble. Each of these visionary entrepreneurs identified unique aspects of the female experience that remained unaddressed by the patriarchal structures surrounding them.

Despite these strides, a groundbreaking report by McKinsey and Lean In has uncovered a troubling trend: a record number of women are departing from corporate leadership roles, leading to what's been termed the “Great Breakup”. The findings are damning – women directors leave their roles at a higher rate than their male counterparts.

While the report was based on surveys of corporate America, the findings are still highly relevant to Singapore – a country where women only hold 36% of corporate leadership positions. The systemic problems causing women to leave leadership positions all over the world are still present in Singapore, and if anything, perhaps more dangerous in a place where just 3 in 10 people are very comfortable with women leaders.

Women in power are the key to business success – but the challenges still persist

McKinsey’s “Diversity Matters” report found that companies with greater gender diversity are 21% more likely to outperform their peers regarding profitability. It proved that women leaders bring unique perspectives and empathy to the table, which often results in better decision-making and problem-solving. In addition, their ability to communicate effectively, and foster collaboration, creates a positive work environment that encourages sustainable growth.

Meri Rosich, former CDO/CIO at Visa, and Standard Chartered Bank, said: “Women’s leadership in tech is crucial for driving innovation, fostering diverse perspectives, and creating products and services that cater to the needs of a broader audience. As technology continues to permeate every aspect of our lives, it is imperative that the individuals shaping these technologies reflect the diversity of the societies they serve.”

Yet, according to the World Economic Forum’s 2023 Global Gender Gap Report, the percentage of women in senior leadership receded in the first quarter of 2023.

One of the most concerning aspects of the data around women in business is the lack of funding entrepreneurs often receive. From Singapore to Silicon Valley, female founders have to fight for funds – according to the Boston Consulting Group, women founders receive less than half the money men do.

Another significant challenge faced by women in business is their representation in authority roles. They are overrepresented in support functions such as administration, while men are much more highly represented in positions that lead to senior leadership jobs.

Talking about the most significant barrier to female leadership, Lee Chew Tan, group chief commercial officer at ST Engineering, sees from an insider point of view “The imposter syndrome can be a significant barrier to women taking on leadership positions. Women can afford to be more confident, bold, and less tentative. Sometimes, I think we have a tendency to doubt our capabilities more than necessary. The belief that one is undeserving or not ready not only results in missed opportunities for career growth and advancement but also deters women from doing their best work.”

Power in the pack

When it comes to empowering women’s leadership, Mathilde Swierczynska, co-founder and director at Inspiring Girls SG, believes in promoting a sisterhood culture to uplift women in the workplace, often mentioning the famous quote: “There's a special place in hell for women who don't help other women.”

According to Harvard Business Review research, while successful men benefit from having connections to multiple influential individuals, it takes women a little more than that. To achieve the highest-level executive positions, women additionally require an inner circle of close female contacts. The reason for this difference is that being centrally located allows men to have quick access to diverse job market information, helping them make informed career decisions.

Meanwhile, women often face cultural and political obstacles in reaching executive positions. Therefore, they benefit not only from being central in the network, but also from having a close circle of female contacts who can provide private information about organisational attitudes towards female leaders. This information strengthens their job search, interviewing, and negotiation strategies.

Caitlin Nguyen, head of digital and customer engagement at Abbott, in her talks for the “She Empowers Others” campaign at SmartOSC, agrees.

“The role of community and building support networks is not to be underestimated, as this not only serves to further empower women, but is also a great way to strengthen learning agility and continuously improve oneself as professionals and individuals.”

Nguyen, Rosich, Tan, Swierczynska, and 30 other female leaders will join forces at SmartOSC’s She Empowers Others workshop to elevate female representation in senior leadership. Their aim is to provide women with the support, training, and resources they need for success, fostering a global sisterhood where women can network and thrive.

Network smarter, not harder

SmartOSC’s She Empowers Others (SheEO) workshop will serve as a platform to inspire and support female corporate leaders. Amidst the “Great Breakup” – where women face discrimination and inequality – this workshop emerges as a new wave of empowerment and a source of advice for younger female leaders to thrive and progress.

Hanh Le, deputy CEO of SmartOSC, emphasises: “Across all our entities in multiple countries, we recognise access to networks as a significant barrier hindering women's advancement. In essence, the SheEO workshop aims to empower women to challenge detrimental myths and craft their own narratives of success. We at SmartOSC want to build a safe community and pave the way for a more inclusive and equitable future.”

The workshop is an initiative under the company’s content ecosystem, Forward, which comprises podcasts, events, and magazines. The SheEO global workshop is a pivotal step towards nurturing this ecosystem and inspiring transformative change.

About the SheEO workshop in Singapore

Date: Friday, 26 April 2024

Time: 2pm – 5pm

Address: MOXIE, 2 College Rd, Level 1, Singapore

Registration link:

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