Women on Top

March 8 was International Women’s Day. Every year I’m asked to speak at events that honour women and each year I grow more and more dispirited that we are less and less conscious of what will actually help women move forward.

What women need: [1] + [2] + [3]

Are the solutions that simple? It takes a village to raise a child, is Hilary Clinton’s perspective.

I wish this country didn’t do women’s symposiums as much, not because they lack usefulness, but because there’d simply be no need to acknowledge by gender.

Is “work – life balance” a topic widely discussed among men? Does it suggest an imbalance among women? Why meet without men? Including them in our conversations is crucial for co – creating the new normal.

I wish support and sponsorship for women was the automatic, operative, and motivating mindset. By “sponsorship,” I mean goodwill. Sponsorship means leaders will “hold the space” for women to be women and not expect us to perform like men. “Our CEO isn’t committed to the initiative,” say HR. “Women will just complicate things – we get pregnant and family becomes priority.”

Women are entering the workplace in large numbers but surveys show we get stuck in middle management. Many women quit without giving the company a chance to address their concerns. Urban myth dictates that women want flexi – hours and onsite childcare services but the truth is employers struggle to find ways to help women stay in the game and advance to higher levels – particularly through our child – raising years.

Women hold themselves back from accelerated growth it’s true. What’s all this about feeling isolated on a team of men? Why don’t the sexes capitalize on our uniqueness rather than women working to imitate men?

Let’s get crystal clear about our assets and strengths. Instead of appealing for concessions, why not get exceptionally good. Want to succeed? Embrace technology, be entrepreneurial, and create your niche.

Want to lead? Just do it. I don’t understand the fuss. What’s stopping us? After millions have been spent to fund women’s advancement and all that talk that we live in an unprecedented era that offers women the greatest opportunities in the history of our world, can we measure what is changing for women in this country?

Here’s how I grade the level of support for women in Malaysia:

0 Widespread sabotage of women.
1 A disconnect between policy and activity, legislation v culture
2 Some evidence of support and sponsorship but not much buy-in from top brass
3 A recognizable and functioning system of support in place for women
4 Real signals that it’s not just infrastructure but proactive practice by majority
5 A whole society of acceptance, equality, and appreciation


Our pathway to unleashing potential will come from reservoirs of under – utilized capability and talent. Quality is one factor – know our

worth, build competence and collaborate instead of compete. Quantity is the other; that is the number of the world’s women and our youth. Women and children make up more than half the world’s population. We are the biggest block of consumers and will be addressed, like it or not.

Performance is affected by quality as well as quantity. If more women step up and rise up, communities everywhere get to perform better, it’s just that simple. “It takes a village,” is right. We’re all in this together.

The leader’s role is to hold the space and the vision. [He] is to inspire and empower. The manager’s role is to organize and monitor so that systems can be improved. The employee’s role is to be engaged in our own actualization, to be a fully – functioning person; the best we can become.

How well are you playing your role? That depends on how much this subject means to you on a practical level. Meaning refers to what you find significant, important, valuable, or challenging. How well we perform refers to what we’re actually doing in our day – to – day lives. Therefore how we esteem women in our culture is directly related to our performance and progress.

I’m out of ideas about what to talk about that won’t rub people the wrong way. I want to be politically – correct AND truthful. I want to be supportive AND provocative without being confrontational at all. I want to find the difference that will make the difference in the world. I’ll start with the commitment to be the best I can be.


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