In Singapore, women hold only 21% of senior management roles and 8% of corporate board membership, as reported by the Diversity Task Force in Singapore. And the consequences are dire:
1. Companies are losing out. We’re all individuals and can each bring different talents, skills, and experiences to the table. Having diverse senior management means more innovation and stronger capabilities in designing solutions for the company.
2. There are not enough role models and mentors for future leaders. If there are more women in leadership roles, other women can also see themselves in those positions and would also be able to build bigger networks.
3. The gender pay gap will not be addressed. At the rate we are going, it will take 217 years to end gender-based disparities in pay and employment opportunities. This is highlighted each year by Equal Pay Day, a symbolic day that symbolises how far into the year women must work in order to earn what men earned the previous year. This year in the US Equal Pay Day fell on April 2nd.
Last quarter, we attended The Dream Collective’s Emerging Leaders Program. The event provided awareness, tools, and techniques for improving leadership skills.
Here are some of our key learnings from the workshop:
1. Career success is 60% exposure and only 10% performance. Performance and a great work ethic only count for 10% of whether or not we will succeed in our careers, while a whopping 60% is attributed to the exposure that we get (and 30% to image). While a solid performance foundation is necessary, focusing on ensuring that we are getting internal and external exposure is also necessary to drive success.
Numerous studies such as this 2015 research from the University of Kent in the UK have shown that women are compensated on their track record (performance), while men are compensated on their potential. According to this McKinsey report, this difference in how men and women are evaluated can be blamed on embedded institutional mindsets. These structural barriers—or, put plainly, discrimination—when it comes to hiring and promoting makes it clear that men and women are judged by different criteria and rewarded differently for the same accomplishments.
2. EQ trumps IQ. A common trait across successful leaders is understanding what motivates others and relating to them in a positive manner. Qualities such as empathy, self-awareness, and self-regulation are all factors that affect how successful people are likely to be in their careers.
The good news is that we can improve our EQ. One example of a method to engage self-regulation that we learned at the Emerging Leaders Program is the “Respond, Don’t React” method. While a reaction is instant, a response is based on information from both the conscious and unconscious minds, and will typically yield a better outcome than a snap reaction. Responding with a certain tone, words, body language, and sentence structuring can really make a positive difference.
3. Negotiate, negotiate, negotiate. According to the “Women in the Workplace 2018” study by McKinsey and Leanin.org, women are negotiating salaries and asking for promotions at the same rate as men. The problem is they are less likely to be successful. We learned some solid steps for negotiation, the most notable being that one should always have a Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement (BATNA) in mind. Essentially, have a second-best outcome at hand before you enter any negotiation.
4. Personal branding is key! Everyone has a personal brand, whether we make an effort to work on it or not. Maximizing aspects of our personality and presenting ourselves in the best possible way is very important to succeed, both within our external and internal network. Ensuring we have a good social media presence and networking are two efforts that can be very effective. Using social media tools enables us to increase our professional visibility on those platforms. Networking by building relationships and staying connected to other leaders is extremely important as there is so much to learn and share.
It will take a lot of work to bring these ideas into practice, but it must be done if we want significant progress—not just for our own careers, but to create more and better opportunities for women in the global workforce.
Marta Barrera is a Senior Sales Manager at MediaMath. She currently manages a portfolio of blue-chip clients and key agency partnerships across South East Asia. During her free time, you will find her scuba diving around Asia or simply enjoying a glass of wine with friends.
Shifali Ranawaka is an Engagement Director with eight years of experience in programmatic. She works in the Singapore office at MediaMath across a range of agency and direct clients. Shifali enjoys cooking, painting and indulging in terrible reality TV.