IWD 2020: 'When women win, everyone wins'

This International Women's Day, Manulife's Asia CHRO shares the importance of driving a mindset change

IWD 2020: 'When women win, everyone wins'

by Joy Xu, Asia Chief Human Resources Officer, Manulife

Growing up in Nanjing, China, I wasn’t expecting a career at some of the world’s biggest companies. But since then, I have had a global career spanning 25 years across four continents – because I hold a belief that talent is tied to personal action.

That belief required a mindset shift on my part, powered by believing that you can improve and that talent can be developed. Instead of seeing talent as a fixed trait, I’ve grown to understand it as something that can be honed through learning, dedication, hard work and, yes, my fair share of mistakes.

A growth mindset can also help challenge patriarchal norms. It helps us grow out of traditional gender stereotypes and realise that talent can be developed regardless of gender.

READ MORE: Unconscious bias greatest threat to diversity: Julia Gillard

Gender inequalities still exist
Yet that’s not to say that individual action is sufficient to achieve equality. Despite much effort, there’s still so much to do to achieve gender-equal boardrooms and workplaces and to help women reach their full potential.

Recent research shows that less than 5% of Fortune 500 CEOs and only 2% of S&P 500 CEOs are women. Women remain disadvantaged and, in many businesses, are not given the same opportunities as their male counterparts to reach senior positions.

At Manulife, we are committed to changing that by advancing gender equality in our workplace, especially through sponsorship and mentorship programs, and by training and optimising our hiring processes.

In addition, we are reinforcing pay equity in our compensation and benefits system and integrating gender equality into leadership succession planning. We are pleased that Manulife has made it once again into Bloomberg’s 2020 Gender-Equality Index.

We provide all business leaders, women and men alike, with training to recognise unconscious biases and help them understand how they can better lead, develop and motivate female talent.

We have also put in place a clearly defined hiring plan that ensures our interview panels themselves are diverse, not simply the range of candidates they interview.

These are important, concrete steps that can help women grow personally and professionally in our organisation.

READ MORE: IWD 2020: Why are we failing to achieve leadership diversity?

When women win, everyone wins
Manulife has also recently committed to further steps towards gender equality. We have raised the target level for the number of female vice presidents from 14% women to 30% by 2022.

We’ve so far reached 41% female representation at the director level and above and more than half of all our employees in Asia are women.

We continue to hold ourselves accountable to achieving gender equality by regularly reviewing our gender-related KPIs and ensuring greater senior-level female representation.

A key part of our approach is a recognition that this is not just about women and that it’s not limited to business. It’s part of a broader perspective on diversity and inclusion in which we encourage everyone to rise to the fullest extent of their abilities. It’s a positive vision for us all.

At Manulife, we firmly believe that equality in one dimension, such as gender, flourishes the more we can make progress in others, such as race, ethnicity and sexual orientation. Because what’s good for equality is good for business – and when women win, everyone wins.

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