Empowering women through mentorship - A dialogue with Dato’ Sri Idris Jala

Highlights from the event

Date:
16 April 2018

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

Guest speaker:
Dato' Sri Idris Jala, Pemandu Associates Sdn Bhd President and CEO

Moderator:
Marina Che Mokhtar, PwC Malaysia Deals Executive Director


Key takeaways:

  • Mentoring can help accelerate the process of helping board-ready women break the glass ceiling.
  • It is critical for men to play their part in supporting the agenda of getting more women on boards. After all men still dominate at the leadership and board level.
  • The role of boards and management must be clear. Governance is top priority for the board as well as hiring the right people to manage the company. They should then monitor to ensure outcomes are achieved.
  • As a mentor, it is more sustainable to inspire people than telling them what they need to do. 
  • Women in the boardroom need to put up their hands and be assertive (without necessarily being aggressive) when sharing their points of view.  
Mentors and mentees taking the opportunity to catch up

Mentors and mentees taking the opportunity to catch up

Group photo with Dato' Idris

The mentors and mentees with Dato' Idris

I've personally benefited from mentoring as well. That's why I'm a strong proponent of mentoring - for senior women especially - for those who want to pursue a career or climb the corporate ladder."

Pauline Ho
Pauline Ho presenting the welcome address

Pauline presenting the welcome address

The importance of mentorship

Malaysia is making progress on gender representation on boards, but there's still much to achieve. Mentoring opens doors for women. It is an invaluable experience for the mentor - an independent person with no vested interests other than to provide guidance and share experiences - to play a part in helping the mentee achieve her aspirations. 

This was one of the key points raised during a recent event held by 30% Club Malaysia in collaboration with PwC Malaysia. The event was held to recognise the mentors and mentees of the first cohort of the 30% Club Board Mentoring Scheme*, and to welcome the third cohort. The highlight of the event was a sharing session by Dato' Sri Idris Jala, Pemandu Associates President and CEO.  

Pauline Ho, PwC Malaysia People Partner and 30% Club Malaysia Steering Committee Member began the session by highlighting the importance of mentorship. "Mentoring is about providing guidance and sharing your experience - not so much in terms of coaching but in terms of helping women discover their potential," she said.

Pauline also explained why it was more critical than ever for men to play their part in supporting this agenda. 

"The corporate world is still dominated by men - at the leadership and board level. So if we don't have these men fighting together with us, then we're not going to make it," she said.

"When a person feels inspired, it becomes more sustainable as they are now using their internal energy to pursue what they want to do."

Dato' Idris

The role of mentors

Speaking on mentorship, Pemandu Associates President and CEO Dato' Sri Idris Jala pointed out that there were two types of mentorship - formal and informal - and both were equally important.

"There are different things that you can learn from men and women. So it is necessary that you embrace both," he said during the dialogue session moderated by PwC Malaysia Deals Executive Director Marina Che Mokhtar. 

As a mentor himself, he believed that it was more sustainable to inspire people than telling them what to do. "If you inspire someone to do a certain thing, they will act on it," he said.

Dato' Idris also shared that women in boardrooms needed to put up their hands and be more assertive when sharing their point of view.

Dato' Sri Idris Jala on the role of mentors

Dato' Idris on the role of mentors

"If you look at the role of the board, it is for governance. Board members are not there to manage the company – that is the role of the company’s management team."

Dato' Idris

The challenges of getting women on boards

Addressing questions from attendees on the challenge of getting boards to hire more women, Dato' Idris said that many companies gave excuses that there weren't suitable women candidates with the relevant expertise and experience.

"Industry expertise and relevant experience is mandatory for those running the company, but it is not a requirement for those who sit on the board," he said, adding that there were already more than 1,000 women trained by the Malaysian Directors Academy and LeadWomen under the Women Directors Programme. "Companies just need to pick a suitable candidate from the list." 

He also highlighted why it was important for those sitting on boards to understand the difference between the role of the board and the role of management. 

"Many people in Malaysia confuse the two. The job of the board is to govern. The moment the board oversteps and starts managing the company, the management team becomes restricted," he said.

Dato' Idris added that the other key roles of the board included hiring the right people, looking into the company's outcomes/performance, and overseeing financial reporting and disclosure processes.

The event concluded with the recognition of the mentors and mentees from the first cohort of the 30% Club Board Mentoring Scheme. 

 

About 30% Club

The 30% Club supports sustainable business-led voluntary change to improve the current gender imbalance on Malaysian boards. It comprises a group of chairmen and business leaders who volunteer their time to: 

  • raise awareness among leaders of Corporate Malaysia on the benefits of gender diversity on boards 
  • inspire debate and discussion on the need for board diversity 
  • support initiatives to build a pipeline of women for executive and non-executive roles on Malaysian boards

This group of leaders is not linked to any government or organisation. 

Dialogue session with Dato' Idris moderated by Marina

Dialogue session with Dato' Idris moderated by Marina

Dato' Faiz presenting a gift to one of the mentees from first cohort

PwC Malaysia Executive Chairman Dato' Mohammad Faiz Azmi presenting a gift to one of the mentees from the first cohort

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