Dr Kim Winser: Culture change is essential for diversity progress

Hong Kong -- The Inspire Asia Pacific network held its sixth annual event on 21st March 2017, in partnership with HSBC at their Hong Kong HQ. More than 60 female leaders and 10 male champions of change from across the region gathered for the evening, to discuss actions that can be put in place to engage others in the gender diversity discussion and to share lessons on boardroom best-practice. 

Representing a diverse range of sectors - including retail, finance, insurance, technology, education and non-profit - members of the Inspire network came together to discuss what is effectively driving engagement, what is preventing it from taking hold and what can be done to ensure diversity initiatives are embedded within  company culture. 

Kirti Lad, Director of Harvey Nash Executive Search Asia Pacific and Co-Founder of the Women's Directorship Programme, explained Inspire's mission - as a powerful platform of change to enhance the connectivity and advancement of women and to enable leaders to better manage their female talent pipeline. 

As co-host for the evening, David Morton, Head of Corporate, Financials and Multinationals Banking, HSBC Asia-Pacific, highlighted how diversity has always been in the roots of the company. HSBC was founded more than 150 years ago and has always brought different people and cultures together.  Being inclusive brings fresh perspective to help innovate, manage risk and the grow business in a sustainable way. Almost 50 per cent of the HSBC workforce are women, diversity and inclusion is part of HSBC and is key to the future of their business. HSBC takes the development of its female talent very seriously and manages its diverse talent pipeline with care.

The keynote speaker, Dr Kim Winser, OBE, INED of Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels and Board Trustee of Natural History Museum - gave an insightful talk sharing her experiences from her career to date, as well as her personal views on what women, and businesses, can do to better manage career development. She discussed the importance of having a culture change within a company, to be open minded and less bureaucratic. In particular, she focused on that fact that young talent in a business don't often get their voice heard.  As people grow through the ranks we forget what it feels like to be starting out, we forget what it feels like to have no prior experience or exposure to situations. Senior leaders need to champion the needs of all employees if we are to truly embrace the meaning of diversity and inclusion. Leaders also need to be confident and energetic, to take charge of the situation and make change happen.

Kim highlighted three key points during her speech:

  • In every business, there will always be a forest of distractions, we need to only focus on a few key trees and ignore the rest of the noise
  • We should look to add value at every opportunity - we must believe in our ability to make a contribution 
  • Be determined once you have set your mind to a goal, keep running towards it, no matter how hard it gets - the end goal will be very worthwhile.

Kim's call to action for everyone in the audience was, "Make sure you walk out of a meeting or a networking event, with one or three to-do's on your list and complete them before you go to another event."

For more information on upcoming Inspire events, please visit www.harveynash.com/inspire.

About Inspire:

Inspire is Harvey Nash's executive business network of board-level women.  Launched in 2008 with the aim of promoting female leadership, the network has over 6,000 members across the UK, Continental Europe, the U.S. and Asia Pacific. The cross-industry network aims to enable members to contribute ideas, share knowledge and best practice and hear from senior business leaders, providing a forum for support and career guidance.

For more information please visit: www.harveynash.com/inspire/