Lawrence Lam, Managing Director, Citibank Hong Kong Consumer Business Manager, shares with WiFA his motivation to be an ally, his mentorship experience, his 2021 mantra, and much more.

Tell us about yourself

I manage the Citibank’s consumer business including retail bank and credit cards in the Hong Kong market. I started at Citibank some 20 years ago after graduating from university. Many people asked me if I had ever felt bored working in the same company for such a long time. Well, the answer is NO. In fact, there has never been a dull moment over these two decades. Citibank continuously provides opportunities for me to learn, try new things, and grow both personally and professionally. The bank is also a staunch believer in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at the workplace. It has been my privilege to work with and learn from talents from the wider DE&I spectrum over all these years.

What motivates you to be an ally in the financial services industry?

Citi employs over 200,000 staff and we work with millions of partners and vendors around the world. Having such a diversity of people across the globe brings different ideas, perspectives and experiences to the services and products we offer our clients. Gender diversity is not a women-only battle: it takes all of us to educate, influence and change the world to embrace diversity at a whole new level – equity versus equality. As the leader of a workforce of over 1,000 colleagues, it’s important for me to stand up for diversity to ensure fairness in thoughts, speech, and actions.  We always talk about “treating customers fairly”, but it’s also important to “treat employees fairly” if we are to better compete for both talents and clients.

What advice or guidance would you give to men so they can become an ally? What can they do better to support their female colleagues professionally?

Communication is key, listening is just as important as talking. Men should be mindful of the work environment they create and the message they send in the example they set. Male employees should avoid making assumptions about female employees, including their needs, goals, and career ambitions.

What works with your male colleagues may not work for your female colleagues. Always check-in with each of your colleagues to understand their real ambition, challenges, and what matters in their professional and private life.

One should understand the challenges our female colleagues face and give them the level of support they need to inspire trust and respect.

What will be your 2021 mantra be to keep you motivated, either professionally or personally?

Men and women may have different thinking processes, different ways to interact with people, different focuses, but interestingly and most of the time – these differences are complementary. Fostering an inclusive environment where we can bring our authentic selves to work is key to how we succeed together as a firm.