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Essential Qualities of an Effective Board Member

On Friday August 27, Womentors had the pleasure of hosting a webinar on ‘Essential Qualities of an Effective Board Member’ in collaboration with CPA Australia. Our keynote speakers on panel were Ada Wong; CEO of Champion REIT, a HK listed real estate investment trust, and Angela Ho; law practitioner and founder of Angela Ho & Associates. It was a thorough privilege to hear personal stories and insights coming from 2 accomplished females with firsthand experience as board members.

Both speakers kicked-off the sharing session by addressing existing challenges faced in board decision-making. In particular, communicating hard messages in difficult decisions remains a challenge for females up the corporate ladder, since women tend to approach situations through soft angles. In overcoming this, women could conduct informal communication on issues at hand as a way of negotiation and conflict resolution.

Apart from maintaining good communication channel, diversity is key to improving board performance. Age and gender aside, members should come from different expertise and sectors, with IT and tech being an important skill given the rise of AI and sustainability. Additionally, having a robust internal control and risk management in system in place is equally crucial, for it provides the checks and balances in maintaining federal standards, compliance and documentation. Listed companies should also possess an independent mindset and be inclusive of smaller or minority stakeholders.

Ada and Angela also recognised how the Covid-19 crisis can be a challenge for working mums. During these trying times, firms should be mindful of the female perspective under the pressures of a Chinese family household structure and install support initiatives to empower women, increase their working satisfaction and sense of belonging.

Last but not least, Ada and Angela offered some tips to any aspiring female board members. First, women should ‘be loud’ and proactive: be outspoken in board meetings, and offer constructive and meaning inputs. Women should not get intimidated by a male-dominated work environment and break the shy Asian stereotype whilst maintaining professionalism. Second, networking: women should actively participate and make use of all opportunities, such as marketing and business development exposure. Correcting gender imbalance in board membership should start from education - increasing societal awareness of women’s ability - rather than regulation.

Salute to Ada and Angela as the role models for more women to consider steeping up in the corporate ladders and thank you for their candid sharing. Womentors works on diversity at all levels in the workplace and ready to support rising female talents to be joining the directorship. Check out our program to learn more.

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