13 Mar 2017 09:39:22 AM

Unlocking the female talent may just be the deal breaker

At EcoWorld, women represent more than half the 1,100-strong workforce and play a significant role in the success of the company.
The Chairman of this public listed Malaysian property development company, Tan Sri Liew Kee Sin said they has successfully built an “ecosystem” of women and men who supported each other at all costs.

“We value our female workforce very much. There are generally two groups of women who work with us – one group just wants a job. They work hard but after that, they want to go back to their families.

“The other group is ambitious and wants to move up. We support both groups, in fact, we need both in our ecosystem. That’s how great companies are built,” said Liew during the EcoWorld Women’s Summit 2017 at the Bukit Bintang City Centre sales gallery here yesterday.

Many of EcoWorld’s senior executives are women and, according to Liew, its next chief executive officer could well be a woman.
Thumbs up: Liew (eighth from right) and Star Media Group MD and CEO Datuk Seri Wong Chun Wai (sixth from right) with panellists and participants during the EcoWorld Women's Summit at Bukit Bintang City Centre. Image credits: AZHAR MAH FOF/The Star

The summit, themed “Women 360°”, aims to recognise a woman’s ability to manage various roles. The EcoWorld Women’s Summit is part of a series of engagement workshops by EcoWorld for its Professional Women’s Network (PWN), which was launched last year in conjunction with International Women’s Day.

Speakers at the summit included the British High Commissioner to Malaysia HE Victoria Treadell, TalentCorp CEO Shareen Shariza Dato’ Abdul Ghani, IBM Malaysia Managing Director Chong Chye Neo, Hong Leong Investment Bank Group Managing Director and CEO Lee Jim Leng, celebrity Bernie Chan, The Star’s Editor-in-Chief Datuk Leanne Goh, and Dimsum.my Chief Marketing Officer Lam Swee Kim.

Speaking at a panel discussion, HE Treadell shared her personal journey from joining the British Foreign Service as a junior clerk to achieving her ambition of being able to represent her country in the diplomatic corps.

Her message to women was to aim high but never try to be a man.

“What makes you special is your gender and how you see the world. You have to be confident, have a vision and also a plan about how you are going to achieve your vision,” she said.
TalentCorp CEO, Shareen Shariza Dato' Abdul Ghani, pictured above alongside Hong Leong Investment Bank MD and CEO Lee Jim Leng, EcoWorld Director Datuk Noor Farida Ariffin, Star Media Group MD and CEO Datuk Seri Wong Chun Wai, British High Commissioner to Malaysia HE Victoria Treadell, and EcoWorld Chairman Tan Sri Liew Kee Sin during the EcoWorld Women's Summit.

For Shareen, women can have it all and “achieve anything despite various gender-based restrictions they encounter in society, the workplace or at home”.
Women have the will and strength to overcome anything. We need to know what we want and be focused on how to achieve it.”
“It is not going to be easy, but we can do it,” assured Shareen, who has been on two career breaks and is the mother of three sons.
Shareen also pointed out that while women in Malaysia have progressed, there is still room for further growth which will benefit all. Referring to the 2015 Female Labour Participation Rate of 54.1 percent, she shared that the 7.3 percent increase since 2010 was estimated to have contributed an additional 0.3% GDP growth to the national economy. 

“Malaysia needs to optimise its own talent if it wishes to become a top 20 global talent destination by 2020,” she said.
Unlocking the female talent asset through gender diversity and inclusion initiatives could be the differentiating factor or even deal breaker for economies aspiring to move up the value chain.”

* Adapted from The Star’s article "An ecosystem where everyone thrives" published on 9 March 2017.