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DIVERSITY FEATURES


Mentorship helps Asian and Africanwomento power ahead


DIVERSITY WRITTENBY ELISATROVATO


Encouraging rising talent is crucial to helping women break the glass ceiling


USandEurope, inAsia,wealthand assetmanagementfirmshavebeen trailblazers inpromotingwomento seniormanagementroles. Oneexplanationfor thissuccess is


W


that,comparedto theWesternworld, it is easier for families to finddomestic helpers atlowcost.Anarmyof workers,mainly fromthePhilippines andlatelyfromIndonesia,support womenwiththeirhouseholdchores andchildren, allowingthemtofocus oncareers,explainsAmyCho,CEO, HongKongandheadof intermediary, Asia-Pacific atSchroders. Yet, thereisspaceforimprovement,


especiallywhenitcomesto helping womeninmiddleranksto further developandgrow.Leaders,bethey femaleormale,mustbeattentive andencouragerisingtalent.Many well-qualifiedemployeesmaynotbe asaggressiveastheircolleagues in


hilemost financial services firms struggle to reachgender equity inthe


pursuingcareeropportunities,she adds. “Wewomen,generally, aremore prudentandhumble.Weraiseour handonlywhenweare100percent surewecandoit,”saysMsCho, believingshewas “lucky”to find seniormanagementwhosupported herduringhercareer.Men,onthe otherhand,aregenerallymore assertive,andif thereissomething theylike, “theyjumponit”,evenif onlypartiallyconfident. WhereAsia lagsisinembracing


LGBT(lesbian,gay,bisexual,and transgender)diversity, although theregion’scultureisgradually changing. It isimportanttobuild thatawareness,saysMsCho,aseven inadvertentlyinappropriateuseof languagemaymakeLGBTindividuals feeluncomfortable, lessconfidentto expressthemselvesandunsafeatwork. In Africa, theconversationcentres


morearoundcultural diversityand ethnicity,saysChiomaNwankwo,head of privatebankingat FidelityBankin Nigeria.Withmorethan70different tribeswithdifferentlanguagesand cultures inNigeria alone, today’s priority for firms isnottobeperceived astiltingtowardsaparticular ethnicity, whichmayaffect theirability to serve allcustomersegments,sheexplains. Thesedifferencescanexacerbatethe genderbias, inthecontext ofawider


cultural beliefwomenshouldstayat hometolookafterchildren. Yet,womenarehighlysought after


in Africanprivatebanking,basedon theconvictionthatmen,whomakeup themajority ofwealthyclients, tendto listentowomenmore,astheyinspire greater trustandconfidence.Around 80percent ofMsNwankwo’sprivate bankers arewomen. “Ihavefoundwomenmore


resourceful,becausetheyareable tomulti-task,”saysMsNwankwo, stressingsheis lookingformale privatebankers too.Thepandemichas liftedthework-from-home“stigma”, showingit is possible tobeproductive workingremotely.Andnowthat privatebankers areallequippedwith technologytoolsandclients areused to liaisingwiththeir privatebankers digitally, flexibleworkingconditions willproveabonusinapost-Covid world,especiallyforwomen. Thesecret,MsNwankwotellsher


femaleprivatebankers, isnotonly tobecompetentbuttohavea“good supportsystem”,especiallyifmarried withchildrenandlookingtoprogress in their career. InNigeria,shesays, it is affordable toemployananny, driver, gardener,aprofessional cleaner,and ontopof that,womencanoftencount ontheirmothers,sheexplains. Yet, inaculturewherethemanis


I have found


resourceful, because they are able to mul


CHIOMANWA NWANKWOFIDELITYBANK


foundwomenmore multi-task


thedefaultbreadwinneror“headof home”,wheneveratopposition is available,an“entitlementmentality” leads topromotingtheman,regardless ofproductivity. It is thereforecrucial for womento “strengthennetworks”and findsponsorshipwithinthe firm. It is inall leaders’ interests to


understandthe benefits ofemploying adiverseworkforce, believesMs Nwankwo.“Diversityprovidesa competitiveadvantageandithelpsyou gainmarketshare,becauseyouare cateringtopeoplewhoarediverseand havedifferentneeds.”


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