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Thursday November 15, 2012

Why diversity in corporate leadership can contribute to success

KUALA LUMPUR: As diversity in corporate leadership can contribute to the success of an organisation, it is important to embrace it by providing flexibility to retain talents especially from a gender perspective, according to Boston Consulting Group Malaysia partner and managing director Nor Azah Razali.

When there was diversity in a team, one could discuss issues in a more robust way and get different perspectives, she told StarBiz.

While diversity covered age profile, background and training, Azah explained the reason she highlighted gender was due to the small number of women in leadership positions despite the large female talent pool that was available.

“If we do not address this, we might miss out a huge portion of the talent pool who can contribute not only to organisations but also the economy,” she said.

“There are more women entering university and the workforce but there is a gap for women in senior management and above,” Azah pointed out, adding that less than 10% of women were board members.

A report by the Boston Consulting Group, entitled “Shattering the Glass Ceiling” showed that the average senior management positions held by women globally was 21%, with just 9% of CEO positions held by women.

The report also included findings from a survey, also conducted by the Boston Consulting Group, which showed that the main reason for the dearth of women in senior leadership roles was due to factors such as the lack of commitment from top management in organisations to change the corporate culture, which included providing flexibility for employees.

“People are aware of it but not enough is done. The breakdown is different from company to company,” she said, adding that flexibility could be achieved through measures like role-sharing, flexible working hours and adoption of technology.

Besides the role played by top management, she noted that at the other end, it was the employees' mental barrier of managing career and family concurrently.

Wan Mohd Firdaus, chairman and founder of Youth Corporate Malaysians (YCM), a business club with a network of over 8,000 young working professionals said women dominated in terms of household purchases.

“A lot of online businesses, such as online shopping sites, are women-centric as they are the biggest consumers.”

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