By Phoebe Chan, SEC Newgate Hong Kong
As we mark this year’s International Women’s Day, even though the benefits of equal-representation are clear, we still live in a corporate world where women are squeezed into just 25% of decision-making positions. One of the reasons the gender parity movement faces resistance is that the message is often misinterpreted as a zero-sum game, that women gain while men lose. But really it was never about having anyone taking others’ share of the pie; it is about having men’s and women’s voices equally valued so that we work together to create greater value.
The pursuit of more female business leaders is more than just good PR. Instead, it is an initiative to truly embrace the co-existence of femininity and traditionally prominent masculinity in the corporate world. A diverse workplace and leadership team forces us to confront our own biases that we may have been previously blind to and make better decisions.
Female leaders serve as important role models for younger women, opening the door for their advancement into the next generation of leaders. More importantly, women are naturally empathetic, which enables them to become successful leaders as they often have a deep understanding of what drives and motivates people, and how to nurture talents to their greatest potential.
But leadership traits are by no means binary. The movement beyond gender equality is the acceptance of heterogeneity to break our traditional stereotype of what a “strong leader” should look like. It is time for masculine traits in women and feminine traits in men to be celebrated and viewed through the prism of leadership as opposed to gender. Only then can we fully unlock the value of leadership.