Opportunity was the topic of focus at the recent HSBC Women Leaders’ Forum held in conjunction with the HSBC Women’s World Championship. Now in its fourth edition, the HSBC Women Leaders’ Forum on 2 March 2018 brought together a distinguished panel of business leaders, key influencers and women golfers for a candid discussion on gender inequality, building inclusion and creating opportunities for more to succeed.
Themed “Making a Difference Tomorrow”, this year’s forum explored the balance of opportunity and support for women to succeed professionally across various industries. The forum was moderated by Anita Kapoor, television presenter and social activist, and featured a panel of speakers including:
- Christina Noble, OBE, Founder, Christina Noble Children’s Foundation
- Helenita Pistolas, CEO, Christina Noble Children’s Foundation
- Michael Whan, Commissioner, LPGA
- Shinta Widjaja Kamdani, CEO, Sintesa Group
- Thomas Morgan, Director and Producer, SOUFRA
- Jacqueline Loh, CEO, AIDHA
- Felicia Gan, Chief Marketing Officer, Ghim Li Group
While the global conversation on gender equality is not new, the push for equal opportunity and greater inclusion is gaining renewed momentum. HSBC has a long legacy of championing gender equality and women’s perspectives. In her opening remarks at the Women Leaders’ Forum, Leanne Cutts, Group Head of Marketing, HSBC Holdings, stressed that HSBC’s sponsorship of the tournament is a statement of the bank’s commitment to ensuring equal opportunity. Leanne stated: “Diversity is in HSBC’s roots. It’s who we are, it’s part of our DNA. It’s been with us for the last 150 years. Being inclusive for us is an expression of our values, to be open and committed. We want to build an environment where people can feel respected and supported, where we can seek to remove barriers in success.”
On leveling the playing field for women in sport, LPGA Commissioner Michael Whan presented the LPGA’s three-step approach towards growing the game of golf for men and women, worldwide. “Diversity and inclusion must be talked about in the same breath,” said Michael. “We take the initiative of onboarding companies and sponsors that support both men and women.”
World Golf Hall of Fame inductee Nancy Lopez also shared her personal journey in golf and encounters where the lack of support for women athletes was prevalent. When asked about the difference in the amount of work men and women golfers put in, Nancy shared: “You’re always trying to do better, you’re always trying to be a part of something successful. You work so hard to be respected, not as a woman but as a human being.” Nancy was joined by golfer Danielle Kang who echoed the same sentiments, saying: “We have a long way to go before we can be equal. An equal amount of respect would be nice every once in a while, but it’s definitely a work in progress.”
The forum featured keynote presenter Christina Noble, OBE, founder of Christina Noble Children’s Foundation, who spoke on how coming from a disadvantaged childhood fueled her passion to serve and be an advocate for children’s rights. “I remember what it was like to be excluded, it was like being hidden from society,” Christina shared. “Love one another and never reject another person; no matter who knocks you down, keep getting back up. The only way is up.”
Where talent is universal but opportunities are not, women in some parts of the world are still being challenged to be seen and heard. The panel discussion delved into the topic of balancing opportunity and support for women to succeed, including the challenges women in some parts of the world face and how individuals and organizations could make a difference by creating a resounding change in the workforce that centered around inclusion.
Women supporting women in a male-dominated world was a key topic raised during the forum. Shinta Kamdani, CEO of Sintesa Group, shared her personal efforts to help women succeed: “I build opportunities for women by creating a network for these women to grow. They are not seen, they work behind the scenes but it is important for them to gain access to the money for them to grow (in Indonesia).” Felicia Gan, Chief Marketing Officer for Ghim Li Global, also turned the attention on the efforts by AIDHA, an award-winning non-profit organization that empowers foreign domestic workers with low-incomes in Singapore. She said: “Using (the example of) AIDHA, look at our foreign domestic helpers who are like family to us. A lot of people, when they think of something to empower women, they think too big. When the idea is too big, nothing turns into action. Start small, support them by giving them a day off. Help them live their passions on the one day they have off.”
The panel also agreed that it is important for women to stand up, both for themselves and each other, to push for equal opportunity and representation. Felicia added: “With determination, we can surpass ourselves. Speak up, raise your hand and share your ideas. In HSBC, they really do champion women. They have so many women in leadership positions who are passionate about what they advocate for.”
Anita Kapoor, television presenter and social activist, added: “Women can do anything especially in these times. I look forward to the day where I can lead a panel about humans instead of the need to raise awareness on women empowerment.”
The HSBC Women Leaders’ Forum was first started in 2015 as a platform to acknowledge a growing portfolio of female clients across treasury functions, corporate boardrooms as well as business owners. The annual forum has since evolved to become a platform to celebrate the success of women leaders, and discuss topics close to their hearts, from the day-to-day challenges they face to the inspiring efforts of individuals and organisations to help women realise their ambitions, whether in the corporate workplace, among society or in their personal lives.
Leanne Cutts, HSBC Group Head of Marketing, giving her opening speech at the HSBC Women Leaders’ Forum 2018
Michael Whan, Commissioner of the LPGA, discussing his views on championing women in sports at both the grassroots and elite level
Christina Noble, CBE, Founder of The Christina Noble Children’s Foundation, presenting her keynote speech “Dedicated to Serve, the Christina Noble Story” on championing children’s rights and helping children in need
Panelists of HSBC Women Leaders’ Forum 2018 “Making A Difference Tomorrow” with moderator Anita Kapoor, Television Presenter
From L-R: Thomas Morgan, Director & Producer of SOUFRA, Felicia Chin, Mediacorp Artiste, Shinta Kamdani, Chief Executive Officer of Sintesa Group, Anita Kapoor, Television Presenter, Jacqueline Loh, Chief Executive Officer of AIDHA Singapore, Leanne Cutts, HSBC Group Head of Marketing, Felicia Gan, Chief Marketing Officer of Ghim Li Global Pte Ltd