Last week, I attended my first training for women with only women. Every 2 years, I’ve had the privilege to go to a training that touches me immensely to propel me into action. And this year was “Building Relationships and Influence”. I attended the class facilitated by 2 strong and supportive women (thank you Lisa and Naju) with 18 other talented, stylish and beautiful women from my organisation. I am humbled. Everyone of them uniquely strong in their own ways, bringing their expertise and knowledge to the table and opened their hearts to learning and growing themselves and others. I am quietly moved by the humility in the room, the generosity of opinions and thoughts and the grace each one showed in sharing their own challenge and difficulties. I can learn so much from the poise and posture from each one of them.
Lianna – who taught me how to laugh in the face of adversity and the one I will go to war with. We will fight fearlessly and if we die, we will at least die laughing
Neha – who taught be the confidence to go after what you want and how to stare down any problem with a plan with economic precision
Monisha – who taught me how a smile can win the world and when she speaks, we will be left defenceless
Som – who taught me the patience to take down a problem and the value of taking small but sure steps to achieve the goal with tenacity
Ari – who taught the selflessness of support and I know with her friendship is won, she will stand with you, behind you and ahead of you in face of problems
Viola – who taught me how to shrug off anyone or any problem and how not to be taken prisoner by anyone. I imagine if you are in her court, she will be fiercely loyal
Grace – who taught me grace and how we will all be bought over by her cooking and she will probably take down anyone gracefully without you even noticing
YiLing – who taught me that words don’t have to be many, just those that count
Phyllis – who showed me a glimpse of her bag of secret weapons for any problem and taught me the value of showing them only when needed
Tun Kim – who fooled me and taught me that appearance is only a tenth of what’s inside
Joan – who taught me that strength can come from small and loud voices and passion for work comes in so many forms
Eileen – who taught me how to listen actively and how to turn a learning into practice by listening actively
Agnes – who taught me the love for life and she will outrun us any day with that love of life
Lee Hong – who taught me curiosity and listening intently to understand. If one day I were to be judged, she will be the fairest of all
SiJie – who taught me the keenness to learn and though she may be the youngest but will soon be oldest in wisdom
Cheryl – who taught me how to to move mountains with influence and the right influence
Diep – who showed me how the world can be so small to be held with her big heart inspire of it all
Lorinne – who taught me how to never stop learning and growing and perhaps one day, I will fulfil my wish to pick up flute like she did
And this is only what I was privilege to have a glimpse of in the 2.5 days. Everyone of them with years experience and expertise I can learn from.
I had never grown up with strong female models in my life. And I am constantly surprised at the rich variety of female women and leadership traits. And I am truly grateful to have participated in a programme that opened my eyes to all the possibilities.
We have to do more.
Because when I look up, it is not yet 50/50 at the table, when I look around, it’s a lonely number, when I look down, I can already see the young eyes starting to despair. And when I look further ashore, equality is still a luxury for some and forbidden in other places. https://wbl.worldbank.org
A colleague of mine asked, what if men have a training for men only, what would you say? I said, do it! Do it to understand that diversity is still a problem, do it to understand how or promote diversity, do it to enrich styles of leadership. Imagine how rich the discussion at the board can be with all different characters and strengths. And imagine all these strengths and passions were driven by a common vision.
Companies can deliberate on the benefits of diversity, leaders can wonder on the ROI of having both men and women at the top. I am proud to say I belong to a place where the deliberation of benefits is done and diversity is acted on with deliberation.