Tag Archives: Life Balance

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Our Gender Bender discussion panel saw a great topic being openly discussed, with a fantastic input from our audience members (thanks) and one of the most balanced population we’ve had at an even (guys, you’re always welcome). We discussed the roles of parents, men and women, who should stay at home, how the Hong Kong helps and disables us with role changes, how employers react and behave and what we can hope for in the future.

To recap some of the points made, here is our #wmniwd stream of live Tweets, from the event:

#wmniwd_20150326



For our International Women’s Day event, we decided to turn things around a little and discuss whether some women block other women’s careers. Learn more about the event description, here.

Folllow the Twitter conversation and event highlights, here. If you want to join, please use #WMNIWD

Our wonderful panel was made up of Christine Brendle, Founding Partner of Kids Dailies and Independent Non Executive Director at The Red Flag Group Kimberley Cole, Head of Specialist Sales, Asia at Thomson Reuters andMariko Sanchanta, Asia Pacific Regional Managing Director, Media at Burson Marsteller, with the amusing and candid MJ Jennings, Director, Training & Executive Coaching, Active Communications as Moderator

Brendle: Was the only woman on her first team/ job – and the only one who knew how to use a computer. Therefore, there were no women in senior ranks. After moving to New York, she found supported female bosses… She quotes Madeleine Allbright, “there’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.”

Sanchanta: Had good sponsors and mentors as well as some issues – she joined the panel because she couldn’t believe that women would block each other.

Due to a fire, our Hong Kong President, Christina Pantin had to step in for Cole at the beginning. To start us off, she shared some information: For the first time, Baby Boomers, Gen X and Gen Y millennials are working together now.

  • Lawyers under 40 prefer working for men who give better direction and constructive criticism.
  • 40% of workplace bullies are women.
  • 70% of the time a woman is bullied is by another woman.

 

 

So, why might women step on each other?
Some women who play the lone female at work might feel threatened by other women that come into the work place. When women work together and become friends, they might also share some very personal stories and secrets – perhaps becoming a root cause for future bad behaviour with one another?

Cole shares that she tries to see which women at work always have their heads down, and then tries to mention to others about their work, to help them connect with each other.

 

Should women working in Corporations play by the men’s rules?
Sanchanta: I’ve always refused to do so – and I’m a small Asian woman so I just can’t take that presence. I’m feminine and a woman and kept a mix of friends. In my experience a lot of workplaces are gender neutral, for instance after work activities like drinking in the pub are quite inclusive.

Brendle: Those rules exist but I don’t think you should play by them. Moving from France to the US, it was like the ceiling was raised by about 50 meters!

But the same company can be a totally different place depending on the corporate culture there. Encourage women leaders. Think about who is replacing you and what that brings. I’ve seen women who I’ve hired and am grooming take a hundred steps back as they become Queen Bees or try to assimilate more with the men.

Pantin: If a man is running the business, then it is under such rules because women have different career tracks and styles. But until you accept and take into account the different biology, those differences will be clear.

Why do women leave the leadership stream? Do they settle or do they just not want it? Fostering women to move up the ranks to the top is a big change that has to be approached at all levels of the company and management chain.

 

How do you juggle your life balance?
Cole: My kids were born in the UK where maternity leave is fantastic and practical. I came back to Asia to have them looked after!

Women feel guiltier going back to work and feel bad – men take it differently. I don’t think you can have it all, at the same time.

Brendle: For my second child I stopped work and enjoyed it because for my first born, I missed out. When you leave and come back to work it’s great to feel welcome – don’t bring them back and give them a second rate job.

 

Women are delaying careers for their family but might still go for new job interviews while pregnant. What are the compromises?
Sanchanta: Most of my colleagues don’t have wives who work. I have a baby and if I don’t leave by 6.30 I won’t see my daughter – I told my husband to stay home with her tonight instead of supporting me. I couldn’t miss bath time for a whole week but I think some men can.

Audience: I started my own business so that I could spend time with my children, when it became evident that between my and my husband’s career, we had no time at all.

In your early thirties in places like the US, you can’t afford a nanny or day care, so the pay gap between husband and wife determines who goes back to work.

I have three boys – once, they were all under five. I’m aware that my boys can learn why mummy shares responsibilities with daddy and why mummy needs to have a good job. We try to balance it as a team but I know my boys will be future workers. I’d prefer a good hour with them in the evening than time when I’m trying to do all of it, working from home, etc.

Cole: I always intended to have it all and have a career and children. I would have gone back even if my work only covered the childcare, but I was probably lucky to have those six months paid maternity leave in the UK.

 

Who do you turn to when you’re afraid? A cultural shift in your organisation or managing your lives better? What about mentors and paid mentors?
Sanchanta: “I’ve had a range of different female mentors in my life – but only ever been sponsored by men (in hiring/decision making positions).

Brendle: I’ve had mostly male sponsors and mentors – usually the same person – but I have also mentored.

I never looked for a mentor but it happens sometimes. At one point I had two men above me in different arms of the company, but I learned a lot. If you’re hiring the staff you might have a lot of wisdom and be a great sounding board.

Cole: I’m task oriented so I needed a sponsor – if that person can be a mentor as well that’s great. I now have one woman who was my mentor but she’s been so elevated now is that she could also be a sponsor. But it’s great to have both internal and external mentors and sponsors, because if people leave, what will you do? You get the balance.

 

How do you celebrate success?
Brendle: If you only have one discussion a year about your pay rise, it’s something that most people don’t feel too comfortable about. Doing this, you have metrics that are measured, and some women feel quite trapped by having men measure this – “oh growth in Asia, well, anyone could do that” – make sure you have your facts and proof behind you. Prepare.

Sanchanta: In Japanese culture you should be humble – so it took me a long time to unlearn these things. Working for American companies, you have to learn to trumpet your achievements.

Audience: Have a yey me folder to track and recall your successes.

JJ: Share feedback about people within the organisation, about a team etc – it will impress managers too. What goes around comes around!

 

What helped you on your journey to keep growing and taking a step forward?
Brendle: I waited ‘til after I was 50 to become an entrepreneur, by enjoying the means I could from corporations. I’m still learning a lot – I’m good with the big picture but I find being detail oriented a struggle.

Sanchanta: I have had several catalysts that make me do things differently. Having a child encouraged me to leave my 15-year comfort zone of journalism. Networking is great and amenable here because of the size of the city. I just keep going and perhaps I’ll end up doing my own thing one day too.

Cole: I like a challenge but the reason I keep taking them is financial independence. I was brought up by a single mother and she always taught me to have options and being able to be in control. 



For our International Women’s Day event, we worked hard to create a relevant and interesting topic, with a great panel to discuss our topic: Do women step on each other to get to the top?

With the event description below, here’s a range of videos to get you thinking about how women are portrayed and why they might feel the way they do – stepped on, or stepping on. Have you had such experiences? How did it make you feel? Come along, with your experiences, thoughts and feelings for an interesting session on how we can change the way women are viewed, how we view ourselves and how we view each other.

The hashtag for this event is #WMNStep

Event description
Former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright once said: “There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women” and she found lots of agreement across men and women for this admonition.

So what is the fate of women who not only don’t help other women in their careers, but hinder, sabotage and block?

As women’s groups everywhere celebrate International Women’s Day in March, Women Media Networks is hosting a panel discussion that is a little less conventional, and likely controversial, but relevant and real.

All of us probably have stories about women bosses and managers who were helpful or hellish. Or female colleagues who were catty instead of collegial. Some of us have also endured outright warfare as we advanced in our careers from our own “sisterhood”.

Are some of these anomalies and caricatures of the dreaded “lady boss”? Have things changed as more women take the helm of companies? Are there cultural elements at play, where patriarchal and traditional countries deliberately enjoy inflating the legend of terrible career women?

Or is it a cold, hard fact that most women prefer not to discuss openly?

Learn about the panel or book a ticket, here.

Join the conversation:

@wmnasiapacific

www.facebook.com/WMNAPAC

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This blog was guest written by an adorable, energetic and sweet friend of mine. I had no idea that this woman, who works for our sponsor, Turner, was also into stage performances! So, when she told me one Sunday that she was working on a play about maids who want to kill their boss, of course I wanted to go! Then, she told me that the two lead roles of the maids were written to be performed by men, a wish that had rarely been carried out. Ok, now she really had my interested. And then the other conversation came up – how does she do that, and her full time job? Can she have it all?

– Vickie, WMN

 


 

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Having a full time job in Television, like most jobs in Hong Kong really, means long hours. And in a competitive environment like ours it also means a lot of mental energy invested towards that job.

I chase a career, which I love, spend time with my husband and go to the gym sporadically. I could consider myself underachieving, compared to women who are doing it all. Those marathon-running, brownie-baking, soccer-mum, investment bankers. And that’s usually ok.

I write usually, because there is a part of me that lies untapped that I wish I had time to expand on. A part that is too exhausted to get up and do it. And that’s my love of theater and more importantly my love of directing for stage. Owning the stage is a part of me, an integral core of ‘me’.

The stage is my medium of expression and art. I see the space and shape of a stage and think of a script. ‘Could I perform

here?’ I see actors and think ‘how can I mold them?’ I see spot lights and imagine them cast as shadows. I see the empty seats and think ‘how can I engage the audience?’

But my full time job means I can never do justice to a script. To perform a script is to live, breathe and feel the script . And as a director it becomes all-consuming.

I had nearly given up on my dream to direct, when a month back, the phone rang and out of the blue I got an offer to co-direct a script. Sometimes when the opportunity to live your dream appears in front of you, don’t rationalise or evaluate, just jump right in. I jumped in and said YES. And then rather belatedly remembered I hadn’t asked what the piece was which is not the deep thinking director I thought myself to be. Content is King and Script is Prime.

And then a panic stricken realisation that I had said YES to an insanely short timeline to put together a performance for the public!

Don’t think, just make a commitment and move ahead to make it happen.

Lucky for me the script turned out to Jean Genet’s classic The Maids. And the most intriguing thing about this play is the fact that Genet wanted the two female leads to be played by men.

As the protagonists perform their roles, they also role-play. They act out their anger, their frustration and play-act their murderous plot. Through this maze of truth and lies, the audience is forever reminded that something is being performed for them. The illusion of reality is broken.

 

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I spent very real days at my desk at work and then surreal evenings directing female roles forgetting our actors were men. Weekends spent discussing hair and make-up, costumes and props.

I am sleep deprived but feel like I have run a marathon too. I did it all in my universe.

As the play opens in November, I will feel like a proud mother. Whatever the outcome, its my baby and she is amazing!

 

The Maids runs from November 6th-9th at the Hong Kong Arts Centre. To book tickets to see The Maids, contact Urbtix

 

Tina is Associate Director Sponsorship and Promotions – Creative Brand Solutions at Turner International Asia Pacific Limited. Follow Tina’s blog.


 

 

If you have thoughts, questions or readings to share, please talk to us via our social media accounts.

@wmnasiapacific

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A topic which is always close to our hearts at WMN is ‘Can women have it all?’.

It’s a topic that has been high in debate of late, from looking at how Marissa Mayer’s career and move to Yahoo! and then announcing she was pregnant, to our events surrounding disruption and of course, the discourse created by Anne Marie Slaughter in the US. (Check that link, there are reams of articles that are relevant to you).

Our Hong Kong Chapter President, Christina Pantin is someone who’s very intrigued and dedicated to this debate, she regularly shares articles that she’s read about the debate and looking at how we can use this to advise and inspire our WMN members.

AmCham HK is hosting an event in March, around this issue. To warm us up, here’s an extract of an interview with Anne Marie Slaughter, with some background to the discussion.

Anne-Marie Slaughter on women, work and Washington

by Shelley DuBois, writer-reporter November 7, 2012

 

The Princeton professor and former State Department official discusses her take on leadership and work-life balance.

 

FORTUNE — In what felt like a knockdown, drag out election season, we heard plenty about the problems in Washington and improving the lives of American women. As a foreign policy professor and a woman who has worked in Washington, Anne-Marie Slaughter knows these issues all too well.

 

Slaughter currently teaches at Princeton, but last year, she ended a two-year term as the director of policy planning for the U.S. State Department. She was previously dean of Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.

 

Slaughter also, suddenly, reignited the perennial debate among working women this past summer after she wrote an article in The Atlantic called “Why Women Still Can’t Have it All.” She spoke with Fortune about leadership in Washington and why women should not blame themselves if they are struggling to balance work and family.

 

An edited transcript is below.

 

Fortune: You’ve been a dean and you’ve worked in the State Department. How do you lead differently in academia versus in the government?

 

Anne-Marie Slaughter: Well, my one-liner is that in academia, you’re rewarded for coming up with a really big idea that has only your name on it, but in Washington, you’re rewarded for cutting big ideas into little ideas and getting other people to think they thought of them. It’s an old adage in Washington that you can get anything done if you don’t want to take credit for it, and it is true.

 

But the real difference is Washington is the politics. I don’t know if the politics are fiercer but they’re different. I had to watch my back a lot more.

 

People were out to get you?

 

They certainly are very happy to cut you out. It’s just the way the town tends to work. It’s not a place that rewards team collaboration very often.

 

But I had to send very different signals, and I did. I would actually tell my people, “look, success is not having defended our turf, success is having gotten our ideas adopted.”

 

Were you rewarded for achieving your definition of success?

 

There are a number of projects that I am just enormously proud of having been part of, but my fingerprints are often not on them. It’s just the way it has to be. You know and your team knows, and inside, the Secretary will give you credit if she can, but by and large, it’s about a larger goal.

 

So how do you convince yourself to do major projects when your name isn’t on the work?

 

That is where I think being an academic really helped. I knew at some point I was coming back here. I have an outside life and an outside identity that many people inside don’t have.

 

I also made a choice early on that I wanted to be able to look back and have achieved one big thing. So I volunteered for this Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review which was a real bear because it had never been done before it involves putting state and aid agencies together and it was a huge process headache and a lot of people didn’t want to get anywhere near it.

 

Did that work? Does it hold up?

 

Yeah, it does. In fact, I often get students who say they want to get a job with some initiative or office that the QDDR was part of and I feel just enormously proud. I feel like, “yeah we did that, and it’s going to have a real impact.”

 

How should people think about leadership if they truly want to work across agencies and cultures, like you did for that project?

 

I would say it’s the difference between being at the top of the ladder or the center of the web. Power is whom you bring together and how you bring them together and what you enable. You are still exercising power, but it is a much more empowering kind of power.

 

And how, if at all, has your role as a female leader change after you wrote the article in the Atlantic?

 

Ah. Well, it certainly added an agenda to a life that was pretty full. Hanna Rosin has said I’m the woman who left the State Department to spend more time with my children and then I wrote an article about it, so it means I’ll never see my children again. I did not, of course, expect it to take over my life.

 

But I felt a sense of responsibility that is just part of being a teacher, a mentor, a mother — just somebody who looks after other people. And people tell me every single day how much they’ve talked about it, what a difference it made.

 

When I read it, I just thought, “thank God I’m not crazy.”

 

That’s one of the things that makes it worth it for me — so many women were out there thinking it was their fault. Many have had to make compromises they didn’t expect to make and they feel like failures and they’re not failures, it’s the system.

 

We have not enabled people to have children and be with those children and still stay on the career track in ways that allow them to rise over the course of a lifetime.

 

Somewhere along the line, we got to a place where saying, “I’m choosing not to accept the promotion because I want to spend more time with my children” is regarded as some kind of weakness or unprofessionalism, and that’s very bad for society as a whole.

 

When I sort of ripped it open, everybody was like, “Whoa, I’m not alone.”

 

 


 

AmCham HK is hosting Male-Female Differences at Work on March 12th at 8am which we think will be an interesting debate in the lead up to our next event on March 26th, Deconstructing the having it all myth (#wmndeconstructing)

The ‘fit’ between gender and the different stages in an organisation’s ‘lifecycle’ will be used to illustrate that it’s very unlikely that the same individual will be successful leading an organisation throughout its entire ‘life’.

The implications of this research for corporate careers and corporate success will be presented, as well as some development implications.
All attendees will be encouraged to complete a questionnaire beforehand to compare results with Selby & Mills research findings at the event.
Dr. Colin Selby is a Chartered Occupational Psychologist with a PhD in Business Management. He has extensive consulting experience in Europe, America, Africa and Asia. He has taught at Manchester University, London Business School and the Open University. He has been an executive member of the Division of Occupational Psychology of the British Psychological Society with special responsibility for public & international relations for the profession. Dr. Selby is responsible for Client service and relations, product development and consulting. In 2010 he was shortlisted for Occupational Psychologist of the year in the UK.

 

 

As ever, we’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences on this topic. Please contact us if you’d like to write a blog, or join the conversations on social media:

@wmnasiapacific

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Sheryl Sandberg has come out of the closet as someone who leaves work at, gasp, 5:30pm. Every day. While this ‘early leave’ seems shocking to most ambitious executives, here in Asia it’s even harder to pull off. Here’s a little inspiration to take the leap:

“I was showing everyone I worked for that I worked just as hard. I was getting up earlier to make sure they saw my emails at 5:30, staying up later to make sure they saw my emails late. But now I’m much more confident in where I am and so I’m able to say, ‘Hey! I am leaving work at 5:30.’ And I say it very publicly, both internally and externally.”

 

http://www.thejanedough.com/sheryl-sandberg-leaving-work-at-530/