Women’s leadership means leading one’s self first, overcoming social prejudices

Friday, Apr 20, 2018 10:06

Deloitte Vietnam CEO Ha Thu Thanh (left) and Navigos Search Managing Director Nguyen Phuong Mai (middle) at the conference co-organised by the US Embassy and the VEMBA Programme, University of Hawai'i, in Ha Noi. - Photo Courtesy US Embassy in Ha Noi

A female leader needs to first lead herself, before thinking about leading others, said Ha Thu Thanh, CEO and Chairwoman of the audit firm Deloitte Vietnam.

Also, a woman needs to be confident and passionate enough to overcome the prejudices set by her family, friends, relatives and society, and seek the best inside of herself to advance in her own life and work, Thanh said at a conference on Thursday.

The conference was co-organised by the US Embassy in Ha Noi and the Vietnam Executive MBA Programme in Ha Noi, University of Hawaii (VEMBA Programme).

Thanh has held the position as the chair of Deloitte Vietnam since 1998. She was the only chairwoman among Deloitte’s 152 branches throughout the world prior to 2014.

A woman must be mentally strong, be aware and have the desire to rise, Thanh said. “Therefore, a woman needs to lead herself, before leading others.”

Women need to be provided with fair and equal opportunities so they can have the same chance as men do to prove their abilities and rise above social prejudices about women, she said.

“A woman also needs to struggle with her own issues and overcome them, and she should ask on her own for opportunities to work and prove her capabilities.”

Women are often disregarded in every culture and society, even in the Western world and developed countries, she added.

The biggest challenge for Vietnamese women to overcome is prejudices, she added.

Families should not be among those who place prejudices upon Vietnamese women, and it must be their own motivation that assists Vietnamese women in overcoming and advancing as they accomplish their own achievements, Thanh said.

“When given an opportunity, it’s not the matter of gender, it’s the matter of you being able to do a job well, or not.”

She urged all Vietnamese women to seek better educations, improve their skills and conduct themselves with good manners and professionalism so that they become exceptional, compared to others in the same organisation.

“In addition, they should be passionate enough about their job. Passion creates more and more energy for a person to keep working daily, improving her abilities and skills, and motivates her to do her job better day after day, in order to serve the common goals of the organisation and her own desires.”

Navigos research

Nguyen Phuong Mai, managing director of the head-hunting firm Navigos Search, said female managers seem to excel at solving problems.

According to a recent Navigos survey, which has been carried out since March and is still ongoing, 48 per cent of respondents – both male and female managers – thought gender diversification seemed to help their firms better resolve problems.

Thirty-six per cent of respondents thought a mixture of both male and female managers would enable firms to work with a diversity of customers, while 23 per cent of answers indicated that female managers would help businesses conduct better recruitment and retention of employees.

In all industries, human resources management and finance were the two positions handled by most of the mid-level and senior female managers (56-70 per cent for HR and 43-61 per cent for finance), while manufacturing was the lowest (12-30 per cent).

That also indicated that the percentages of female leaders in banking-finance and services were the highest (41 per cent and 38 per cent, respectively) while it was the lowest in the manufacturing sector (3 per cent).

The research also pointed out that there remains a lack of family and social support for women, as well as unfair evaluations, treatment and opportunities, along with gender discrimination and a lack of empowerment, which were the factors that prevent women from reaching great achievements in their careers. – VNS

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