Policies, organisational structures and mindset shifts are key for diversity amongst leadership ranks

Findings by She Loves Data, a Singapore-headquartered global social enterprise, inaugural Courage Council position paper.

  • The Courage Council, launched in partnership with Informatica, recognises that while corporations are increasingly pledging commitment towards diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) programs, more can be done to move the needle in terms of women representation in the leadership ranks.
  • Launched at Corinium’s Chief Data & Analytics Officer (CDAO) Summit, the position paper calls for leaders to validate the impact and success of their diversity initiatives with real data.

She Loves Data, a Singapore-headquartered global non-profit organisation with a mission to inspire women around the globe to become active contributors to an increasingly data-driven world, today announced the launch of its inaugural Courage Council position paper. This is the first of a series that aims to put a spotlight on the realities of gender equality and women’s representation in the boardroom.

The Courage Council launched in partnership with Informatica, an enterprise cloud data management leader, was established to be an annual discussion among decision makers in the data and tech industries, coming together to help address systemic issues around diversity, inclusion and data literacy, among others.

Key consensus from the roundtable discussion:

  • Unconscious bias remains to be a major and recurring theme that’s impeding true diversity from flourishing in the leadership ranks.
  • Definitions of “career success” need to evolve: With digitalisation and the lessons from the pandemic, established ideas about what a career should look like is shifting. Current discourse around what a successful career looks like are still modelled on outmoded viewpoints.
  • The “M-curve”: Human resources policies and organisational cultures still penalise women for having children, resulting in the “leaky pipeline” of female talent further up the ranks.
  • Accountability for gender equality remains a challenge for companies.

Diversity at the Top still needs action

Despite commitments by corporations to improve diversity in their ranks, women remain underrepresented, particularly at the management level. According to the Women in the Workplace 2021 study conducted by McKinsey and LeanIn.Org, “the broken rung” phenomenon still persists, which means that too many women are still stuck in entry level jobs. The study found for every 100 men promoted to manager, only 86 women are promoted, resulting in a cumulative smaller pipeline of women who can be promoted to higher levels.

Addressing this issue, Jana Marlé-Zizková, Co-founder and volunteering CEO of She Loves Data, said “For us to truly address this challenge, it’s important for institutions to identify the gaps – Competence, Confidence and Leadership – which are the three key areas that our programs at She Loves Data have been striving to address. In addition to helping women upskill, we support organisations in transforming any structures or processes that are impeding progress towards addressing diversity gaps in leadership. Through the Courage Council, we also identified key and practical solutions that we can commit ourselves to as we strive to do better in bridging that gap.”

She Loves Data is also calling for greater collaboration between companies, institutions and industries to support programs aimed at making organisations publicly accountable for their actions in driving greater diversity in the boardroom.

Informatica’s Vice President for Marketing, Asia Pacific and Japan, Tracy Quah, a long-term supporter of She Loves Data’s thought leadership initiatives, added: “Gender equality is not a women’s issue and cannot be advanced solely through women’s efforts. Informatica is proud to live by our DATA values where we exemplify inclusion, diversity and equality across our organisation, enabling our company and customers to be successful and innovative as we think and act as one diverse team. The Courage Council offers a platform for leaders from various industries to understand the challenges and best practices that encourage more inclusivity and gender equity for women at the workplace, especially in leadership roles. To nurture the next-generation of data leaders, organisations need to be more inclusive and adaptive in order to become a forward-thinking organisation that realises what gender equality can bring as a whole new powerful dimension, and the benefits to the business.“

The Courage Council and Position Paper

The inaugural council members include esteemed global leaders in data and diversity:  Meggy Chung (General Manager of Data Platforms, WestPac Group), Pier Luigi Culazzo (Group Chief Data Officer, Standard Chartered Bank), Ladana Edwards (Partner, Deloitte Central Europe), Haresh Khoobchandani (Vice President, APAC, AutoDesk), Celine Le Cotonnec (Chief Data Innovation Officer, Bank of Singapore), Georges Mao (Head of Marketing Science, Meta), Godelieve van Dooren (CEO, Southeast Asia Growth Markets, Mercer), Jason Tamara Widjaja (Director, Artificial Intelligence, IT Hub, MSD), Geraldine Wong (Chief Data Officer, GXS Bank) and Juanita Woodward (Principal, Connecting the Dots).  The Council is rounded off by Patricia Mulles (Director and Global Head of Partnerships, She Loves Data), Jana Marlé-Zizková and Tracy Quah.

The Courage Council is a key initiative as part of She Loves Data’s 3-pillar approach, where the organisation focuses on bridging the Competence Gap via tech and data upskilling, the Confidence Gap by helping women with essential skills, and finally the Leadership Gap.

The organisation, which won the Diversity Initiative of the Year at the 2019 ‘Women in IT-Asia’ awards, has already established 19 local chapters across the world, offering free professional development programs to equip women with in-demand skills in an ever-expanding data industry.