Benedicte Nolens

Every year, March is a busy month for WiFA as we celebrate International Womens Day (IWD) and communicate on the topic of D&I. This year, WiFA celebrated IWD with our “Spotlight Series”, where we shone a spotlight on a series of outstanding female leaders that were put forward by our corporate members as “embodying the values of D&I” in their daily work. With this series, we want to say THANK YOU to each of these wonderful women for walking the talk of WiFA Further, Bonnie Ohri, Bonnie So and myself, in our capacity as the management of WiFA, spoke at a variety of events seeking to inspire women of all ages, ranging from students, to entrepreneurs, to employees in banks and start-ups. Further, I was honored to be cited by the IFLR in its IWD coverage on a series of topics related to D&I, including role-modelling, the importance of diversity on corporate boards (and of quotas to achieve it) and also the cycles women need to go through during their career lives, including pregnancy, pre-menopause and menopause – each of which a hormonal tsunami of sorts requiring heightened understanding.Aside from speaking, I decided to “listen and learn” by attending the fully virtual “SCMP Women of Our Time Conference” at which a line-up of leading female politicians, entrepreneurs, and innovators made outstanding Group CEO Jane Sun shared a series of very interesting policies at Trip-com in order to ensure female retention. She noted that there is no easy way for working mums and that “if you have children expect you are working double” – an experience the WiFA working mums no doubt share.
Grab co-founder Tan Hooi Ling also stood out. She embodied how women in leadership place a caring emphasis, especially important during this time of crisis. She noted how Grab was focused on giving access to CoVID vaccines for their drivers, on their “Digital to Equal” initiative, and on trainings to overcome bias and prevent sexual harassment, She observed that, in most countries women continue to bear the brunt of unpaid household tasks and that “parents have a disproportionate weight in influencing careers” – a view that I have emphasized in prior interviews: that to make global progress, parents need to actively fight discrimination against their daughters and raise them with equal opportunities to their sons.
Lucy Liu, co-founder of Airwallex, also shared several gold nuggets, particularly as to how young women like herself can make it to the very top – Airwallex is indeed a much coveted unicorn. She noted it’s “important to be brave, be confident and look after yourself”, that self motivation is key, that every change is a positive one, that “one should not be affected by failure, because even if you fail one way, there always is another way”.In the coming months WiFA will revisit many of these themes in our events. On April 22 we host our second flagship event of the year: the D&I Forum that focuses on “What’s next for Diversity & Inclusion: The importance of D&I Sincerity and Belonging.”. On April 29 we look forward to the first MMP speaker event of the year where we will hear from David Day, Head of North Asia, London Stock Exchange Group and also one of our mentors on how you can be more visible at the workplace and make your opinions heard. On May 6 we will host a session on the Burden of Care. The aim of this workshop is to explore the implications, for employers and employees, of family and caring responsibilities in the East Asian context.We look forward to seeing you at all these exciting events!