Empowering women through mentorship - Launch of Board mentoring scheme

 

Highlights from the event

Date:
12 July 2017

Welcome address:
Pauline Ho, PwC Malaysia People Partner and 30% Club Malaysia Steering Committee Member

Guest speaker:
Datuk Zaiton Mohd Hassan, Chief Executive Officer of the Malaysia Professional Accountancy Centre (MyPAC)

3 key takeaways:

  • To address gender disparity at the top, both male and female leaders need to participate actively in advocating for better representation of women on corporate boards
  • Relying on quotas alone is not sufficient to change the dynamic at the top. To secure a seat in the boardroom, women need to be empowered to believe in their own potential, which can be facilitated through the support and mentorship of experienced board members
  • A successful mentoring relationship hinges on trust and respect. Both mentors and mentees need to invest time for mentoring and to seek opportunities to co-create development

Participants at the luncheon

Pauline Ho presenting the welcome address

Gender diversity in the boardroom should be treated as a business imperative, not just because it is the right thing to do, but because it’s a key contributor to improved financial performance. This was one of the main themes discussed during the launch of the Board Mentoring Scheme by 30% Club Malaysia at a joint luncheon with PwC Malaysia themed “Empowering Women through Mentorship”.

The first cohort of selected mentors and mentees were among those in attendance at the launch, where the highlight of the event was a fireside chat with special guest Datuk Zaiton Mohd Hassan, a seasoned board member of various companies and the Chief Executive Officer of the Malaysia Professional Accountancy Centre (MyPAC).

Pauline Ho, PwC Malaysia People Partner and 30% Club Malaysia Steering Committee Member opened the event, commending the male attendees for participating in the event. “I think we can all agree that men play an important role in advancing the agenda of getting more women on boards,” she mused. It is not about filling quotas, she emphasised in her welcome address. It’s about ensuring there is a mix of skills and experiences in the boardroom. This contributes to diverse perspectives and a more robust dialogue, which encourages better quality decisions and improves an organisation’s bottom line.  

Having quotas alone will not solve the problem. But it is a good starting point in elevating the importance of the issue in Corporate Malaysia - getting people to talk about it and getting organisations committed to making the change, Datuk Zaiton urged.

Change must come from the top. We need both male leaders and female leaders to be vested in this issue if we want to encourage women to believe in themselves, turn stereotypes on their head and demonstrate that they can play a prominent role in contributing to an organisation’s success.  Confidence is key; as Datuk Zaiton emphasised, when you walk into a board room, and you think because I’m a woman, I have to try harder, you are already defeated.

The launch of this nine-month mentorship programme addresses this belief. It provides a platform for potential women directors to boost their chances of being appointed on boards, by receiving advice and learning first-hand from the experiences of their mentors (comprising current board members). 

Datuk Zaiton shared her own journey navigating various challenges throughout her career. She mentions her endorsement of mentoring, as she was lucky to work with bosses who believed in nurturing talent and providing opportunities for women to grow. Pauline also shared that she benefitted greatly from her own experience being mentored by a female CEO of an international bank, which helped identify and guide her through the areas she needed to develop.

When asked how the participants of this programme can fully benefit through a mentor-mentee relationship, Datuk Zaiton highlights the importance of integrity, accountability and trust.

Pauline moderating the fireside chat with Datuk Zaiton Mohd Hassan

 

Mentoring is a two hand clap. Mentees need to be proactive in initiating meetings and conversations with their mentors, while mentors need to be responsible for their mentees, looking out for opportunities to help them expand their network. Come prepared for board meetings, do your reading, know what the top issues on the agenda are and participate actively in the discussions – this is the only way to make yourself heard in meetings, Datuk Zaiton urged mentees. 

Pauline moderating the fireside chat with Datuk Zaiton Mohd Hassan

Pauline summarised Datuk Zaiton’s advice, highlighting the two key attributes that are integral to the mentoring journey towards becoming a successful board member - respect and trust. Respect is earned. To earn respect one must be prepared, be it for mentoring sessions or for board meetings. Women should also respect themselves enough to have the confidence that the board position is earned. Trust is the foundation of a mentoring relationship and also enables better discussions and outcomes from board participation. 

The scheme is modelled around the mentoring scheme by 30% Club UK and Women Ahead. Under this board level cross-sector programme, a group of women who have been identified as board-ready are selected and paired with experienced board members based on key criteria such as professional experience and interests. Mentors participate on a voluntary basis, and are assigned one mentee each.

As a company committed to diversity and inclusion, PwC is honoured to be part of this initiative by 30% Club Malaysia.

 

About 30% Club

The Malaysian chapter of the 30% Club was launched by the Prime Minister in 2015, in line with the government’s efforts under the 10th Malaysia Plan to increase the number of women on Bursa Top 100 public-listed companies’ (PLC) boards to 30% by 2016, a target that has been extended to 2020. 

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