BONUS | International Women's Day
International Women's Day is celebrated around the world on March 8th. Created to celebrate social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, International Women’s Day is encouraging women around the world to #choosetochallenge, because “a challenged world is an alert world”. To recognize this important day, Count Me In's Rouba Zeidan speaks with members of the IMA family’s leadership who weigh in on what it means to operate, manage and even breed an inclusive culture. You will hear from Hanadi Khalife, Senior Director Middle East and India Operations at IMA, Doreen Remmen, CFO at IMA, Alain Mulder, IMA Europe Regional Director, and Nina Michels-Kim, IMA Director of Partnerships for Japan and Korea, as they all share their thoughts and perspectives. #ChooseToChallenge #IWD2021 Download and listen now!
IMA's Website: https://www.imanet.org/
Contact the Speakers:
- Hanadi Khalife - https://www.linkedin.com/in/hanady-khalife-78ba5610/
- Doreen Remmen - https://www.linkedin.com/in/doreen-remmen-55173812/
- Alain Mulder - https://www.linkedin.com/in/alainmulder/
- Nina Michels-Kim - https://www.linkedin.com/in/ninamichelskim/
Welcome back to Count Me In and Happy International Woman's Day. I'm your host, Adam Larson, and in this special episode, my co-host Rouba Zeidan, sits down with a few of IMA's leaders to discuss what it means to operate, manage, and breed an inclusive culture. Keep listening to hear from Hanadi Khalifa, Senior Director of Middle East and India Operations at IMA, Doreen Remmen, CFO of IMA, Alain Mulder IMA's Europe Regional Director, and Nina Michel's Kim IMA's Director of Partnerships for Japan and Korea, as they all share their perspectives on social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women and the value of diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace.
Good morning, good evening, and good afternoon to all of you. Thank you for joining me and Happy International Women's Day! We're going to kick this off with Nina and Hanadi. So this day was created to celebrate social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women, and it encourages women around the world to choose to challenge. I mean, the theme for this year, because as I quote “A challenge world is an alert one.” So this initiative was also created to accelerate women equality around the globe, and when you contrast that with the world economic forums prediction, that it will take some 250 years before we can achieve true equality. What are some of the major problem areas that you believe need to be challenged? Both when we talk about community elements and corporate world elements, and how are you personally contributing towards that on an individual scale and maybe even on a corporate scale.
So, you know, I believe that in order to achieve true sustainable gender equality, society and companies have to change their mindset. It's not the quantity of hours at work that make an employee productive and also support working parents equally make it normal that men equally share household tasks and childcare. And I think society and the workplace prevent people from exercising their rights for these parental benefits. For example, you know, I kind of represent Asia Pacific and in Japan, new fathers are entitled to a relatively generous paternity leave, but less than 8% of Japanese male employees take it. As opposed to a more egalitarian country like Finland, where over 80% of the men take paternity leave. And, you know, the reluctance of Japanese men that could be for a number of reasons, perhaps it's not encouraged by the company, or they might be judged that they're a slacker and we need to change the stigma associated with that and make it mandatory thatmen also take paternity leave. And in fact, that's a new plan that the Japan's labor ministry is actually thinking of to make it mandatory, for men to take paternity leave, and it it's to counter Japan's declining birth rate, which is a huge problem in Asia, because women don't want to have children anymore since it impacts their career. And, you know, as an individual, all individuals must have the courage to exercise their rights and stand up so others can follow. And, you know, as an individual in my former company, I was sort of a trailblazer and paved the way for other women to woman to, you know, discuss remote working and part-time working. But, you know, granted that was over 15 years ago, but that former company, they did not allow any, remote work or part-time work, and, you know, they were very supportive of promoting women, but only as long as they were single or childless or, you know, dincs, dual income, no children. So I think I was one of the first women managers to say that I was pregnant, and I really felt guilty to do so. To announce my pregnancy, which, you know, should be a joyous occasion, and especially, you know, it was coming after two miscarriages, miscarriages that I kind of, embarrassingly did not say to my employees of my employers, and I found out later that many women in that, that company had miscarriages. we were working long hours and on paper, the company even had, less than, required working hours, but nobody took that. I mean, especially nobody who were a high potential person climbing the corporate ladder. So, you know, when I did announce my pregnancy to the company, I told them things like, Hey, don't worry. You will never even think that I had children. I'll be back full time. I'd be here until the very last minute, and then I will take the bare minimum of maternity leave and I'll will be back to take off where I left off. And, you know, and I actually even did that for my first born. I enrolled him full time in the daycare center. I had babysitters to take him after it was closed and or whenever I was traveling because, you know, I didn't have extended family nearby to help, but, you know, I slowly came to realize how flat I was in my head thinking and it wasn't sustainable. You know, when he was about 18 months, he started acting up at the daycare center, you know, I kind of broke down and I went to my boss and, you know, I finally said, you know, that's it I'm leaving unless the company allows me to work part-time or work remotely and you know, the company finally relented, you know, and that action is so interesting because after that a whole lot of managers became pregnant or they were able to say, I had a miscarriage to Nina, all these kind of things and, you know, and it became okay to work like part-time, at least 80% or work Fridays at home. And, you know, so kind of, I take comfort that I finally became brave and ask for support from the company and it kind of benefited former companies, former colleagues of mine in that company.
No, but you're right, by the way, bravery has a big role to play in this one, to dare, to ask for more or for support Hanadi, how's that been for you?
Well, I think Nina touched on, on a very important point, which is the change in mindset. And I think both men and women need, need to change that, and man has to realize that actually gender equality is beneficial and it's, in their interest as much as it is in our, interests. And of course the bravery for women, they have to proactively ask for their right. But I also want to add, three more, even actually four, more challenges, that we are facing saying, maybe these apply most to upward in the Middle East,. For example, education. Although we've done tremendous, effort and improvement in education, there are still 130 million girls who are, who don't have access to schooling, and there are 12 million who are married, that are under the age of 18 every single year. Of course also the gender gap. I don't want to talk extensively about that. I know we're all aware of the gender pay gap. Although we've seen that women now are more qualified, or if I may say, as qualified as men in terms of their post-graduate studies, and of course, women participation in the political arena, where again, in our region, there's a lot of effort that needs to be done on that front. And unfortunately, as if all of this is not enough, the, the COVID the pandemic, unfortunately, as well, had, a major impact or more negative impact on women as it was on men, because women are the main caregiver and they had to, to take more, unpaid leave from their work, which affected their, their job. And there's actually a very interesting report by McKinsey, on, on, on this topic with really interesting, statistics. Now from an individual level, I really do make a conscious effort every single day to challenge and recognize biases. As, as a mother, of course, I started at all. I have a daughter and a son, and I raised them both, and I make sure that, I raised them to raise their voice and to be active, contributors and agents of change, and as a team leader in my company, IMA, of course I strive really to become a mentor and a coach, to my team to create an inclusive environment where again, as Nina has mentioned, when team member are able to attain the right work life balance, which is also something I suffered from, throughout my, my career, and I'm really fortunate to finally work with IMA with a company that, really, cared for the employees. That being said, like the work-life balance, but as also, being able to achieve our full career potential.
Thank you for that,, and, you're right, by the way, we're very fortunate to be working, with IMA and I agree with you, you know, personally, I consider them to be one of the most gender equal companies that I've ever worked with, in my entire career. So I I'd like to turn to the only male, on this call, Aand so I support, first of all, thank you for supporting the cause.
I'm really supporting it. So I think it's a really important topic, and that we should to reach gender equality as soon as possible.
Yeah. Before 250 years, I agree. And I think people, I mean, on an IMA level, there are so many initiatives that we've taken globally to kind of drive the conversation on diversity and inclusion and, you know, put these messages outwards by sharing, say for best practices, for example, but also, I mean, the focus is indeed on the finance and accounting profession, but when you look at the messaging of diversity and inclusion, it is a very global message by default. So what are some of the initiatives that you're undertaking in your region? The European region, to promote such values, on, you know, inclusion and diversity and what has been the feedback both externally from IMA team members and from external stakeholders as well. It'd be great to learn about your experience with that.
Yeah, so, so what we do here in Europe, is that we really provide them platform for our members, but also, non IMA members where we can have this debate. So we have to Women Leadership Summit, we started at four years ago in Amsterdam, but now also do it in Switzerland and that's really a great forum for men and women to discuss what we need to improve on. So one of the things we found out last year, for example, during the summit, when we had some very open discussion and you know, how Dutch people are, they are really bold in their opinion during the event, and this was really good because they basically said, okay, we, what you often see is when women are making a career and they are doing ajob interview , for example, for their next promotion, that's men, or to hiring men, starts to think for that woman.. So for example, okay, I want to give her that great promotion, but maybe she can not handle it at home because she has to do the households and she has to raise the children. And that's a pitfall hiringmanagers make because we need to stop thinking for them. If they are, going for the promotion, then give them that promotion, and don't think about any issues that may arise in the future. And so we get great results with holding those kinds of events, because this was really an learning opportunity for female, of course, but also for the men who are attending. So next time when they are doing an interview, then they will stop thinking for them, and I think that's really a great achievement.
Absolutely. Hanadi in the IMA D&I toolkit that we were just referring to as well. One of the essential approaches for leaders to create a diverse and inclusive corporate culture is for them to promote a high level of self-awareness that kind of rewards that willingness to course correct. How much of this is dependent on the team leader who's managing, you know, people on a daily basis, but also what are some of the qualities and the skills that they need to actually possess or evolve, in order to become more self-aware, and when you've been in situations like this, do you intervene in order to bypass or highlight or deal with, you know, unconscious bias or do you effectively, how do you accelerate the process of fostering this kind of allyship, if need be?
I think like everything we should lead by example, and it starts with the tone at the top and with, the, with the team leader to make sure we are fostering the right environment for our staff, but most importantly, it's the sell-side reflection because we have to start by our sense. And, I remember two years back of attended at IMA when we were still able to travel, in Montvale office, a cultural awareness training, and we had, at the end of the training, we had to do, an assessment test to see where we are in our cultural awareness, and I used to, like, I proud myself of having a diverse background, worked in many countries, and it was such an eye opener for me too, to see that there are still lots of, conscious and unconscious biases that I have to to deal with to understand and, to resolve. Actually I've, I've just, I was reading that the, in one report that says like 73% of women experienced bias at work, and yet less than 30% are able to recognize bias when they see it. So this awareness of and this education around biases is extremely important. And of course, as a team leader, understanding the cultural nuances, and navigating and pointing to being vocal as a matter of fact around, about these biases and encouraging most importantly, encouraging team members to be vocal whenever they either experience, bias, or, witness bias, a bias behavior. So that is really, it's really about the team leader to embrace this culture of a D&I and again, create that safe environment where employees feel heard and their concerns addressed.
Doreen, your a female CFO. I mean, if anything speaks female empowerment that does, and if anything speaks loudly about the values of IMA that does. So first of all, I, we are all inspired by you. That's something that I just want to put out there. So when we go back to the IMA D&I toolkit, it also notes, you know, that the whole program, in order for it to be successful, it needs to be part of the company's overall business strategy. So it affirms that top down nature of the process. How can a business strategy be diverse and inclusive, and what does that look like for you as a regional leader, as a global leader, actually, when devising your annual business strategy, for example, which has very key operational components to it and financial targets, you know, right at the core. So how does this so-called soft element for lack of a better word come into play, and how does it influence, you know, business performance in your view and your tremendous experience?
Well, thank you, Ruby. You're very kind. Yeah, I think there's a misconception among accountants that business strategy is all about the numbers, right? It's all about the budget and the forecasts and all of those things, but strategy really precedes the numbers and we call these soft skills, but they're actually the hardest skills. So when we look at our environment, we recognize that our membership is extremely diverse, across the globe, and, that's true for most companies. I think they have a diverse customer base. We want to make sure that we understand the needs and the differences, amongst all of our members and that we're, we're here to support our members. So that's our strategy. We need to make sure that we have diversity amongst our staff in order to be able to communicate effectively with membership in different regions, different ages, different career points from student to professional, to CFO, to CEO, to board member, these, these things are important and you can't have a good strategy without these skills of, you know, environmental scanning and understanding your, your customers and making sure that you know what they need. Hanadi referenced, an exercise that we as staff leaders undertook a couple of years ago, that was eye opening for many of us. And, you know, one of the things that was eye opening for me personally, I'm going to bare my soul here a little bit was that I had always, all my life looked for the commonalities, you know, the commonalities amongst people. I still believe that, you know, we're all equal, that God created us equal, but I would overlook the differences in order to find the commonalities. And what we learned in that bias training was that there are real differences and that we need to be able to respect those differences, navigate those differences, support each other, in who, as we recognize differences and, you know, different cultural differences or gender differences, age differences, that was eye opening for me. I had not realized that I have that bias. and now since then I have read more, I've been reading about different cultures. I've been really trying to overcome that, and, and it's been a wonderful journey for me. So I think I went a little off track there, Rouba from your question about strategy, but I am responsible for the strategic planning process. at IMA and, recognizing our customers, understanding the differences amongst our customers and making sure that each segment of our customer base our member base, I should say, has what they need at their point in their career to support them to be able to achieve their maximum potential, and we all have the same potential.
And we all have, the same potential, no, that's, so much to learn from. I really hope that we rub off globally and, you know, we teach these best practices, and I refer back a lot to our, you know, DN& toolkit, because that's been really, a really a body of work that I'm extremely proud of as, you know, coming out of our team at IMA. Alain, you're using this with your team, in Europe as well, you know, to kind of distribute these, share these ideas and these best practices for that can be shared by organizations and various different functions. So these have been used a lot, the insights have been incorporated into a lot of content. you know, whether it's editorial content that's distributed to the media, or even shared with members, how has the response been, in Europe in general and maybe beyond as well, is there an appetite for this type of conversation to kind of be driven even further? and, and how, how is gender equality treated in general, you know, as, what are the common practices that you've seen, or not so common in your area?
Yeah. Fair, good one. Though there's a greater appetite, actually, what I see at the moment, here in Europe with, especially here in the Netherlands for gender equality, you really see the, the political debate, of course. so in the Netherlands, for example, we do have an issue, in like in many other countries that there's not enough represent representation of females within the, in the top, therefore in the board really often, in all the management of companies, I believe it's below 30%. So you really see that there's momentum at the moment that people want more diversity in companies because many people or most people, at least within companies now understand, like the reset, that it's also for a strategy, much better. if you have a diverse company, then also your customers will recognize themselves, which are company more and also your brand. So that's something they see, but also, I was scrolling on social media a few weeks ago, and then I came across research from the international labor organization. and it was really interesting because it was showing, the countries where it's most likely they have a female as a boss, and Jordan was on number one, and what you often see is that people think that in Western Europe, we have equality, but actually that's not the case in Netherlands. 70% of the women are financially dependent of their husbands income, and, or 50% that says, and what you see is that 50% of the women work part-time, and then, then that's, and if you work part-time, or full-time actually, that doesn't matter because it's about the quality of your work, but what you now see in, and then on that the majority of women start working part-time when they just graduate from university, and then it can become an issue, because if there's a promotion within a few years, then the, the men, they have much more experience at that moment, and that's the debate we see here in the Netherlands at this moment that the inequality between part-time and full-time is becoming an issue here. And this also a debatewe see now here, that that's something to improve on.
You're right, by the way, even I have that perception that the Netherlands are the most equal, it's the most equal country in the world. So, yeah, misconception there.
That's indeed a misconception, and, of course in many things, we are equal here. but in, in, within this issue and this topic, then it's, there's much more work to do.
Do you find, like, like Andy mentioned earlier that COVID has kind of, revealed that a problem even more, and especially in, in a country like yours?
Yeah. That's something you see at a moment, because what you now see is that, women are most, they are when they work full-time or part-time, then they're also doing many things in their household to raising children. And if you have to do both, that's becoming an issue. And some men, they only work and they don't care about things going on within households, and that's something that has been refueled by COVID. And I believe that that's really something that has to be changed. I think there is no excuse for men to do nothing within the house. So yeah, so, but you have to have the discussion with your partner. What, how, what, how you define things, because for example, I'm a horrible cook, so I'm not going to do this, but I love cleaning the house. So that's something that I do, and this is how that's how, yeah, and, but my wife is much better in other things. And then she's focusing on that. So that's really the discussion you need to have within your own household. And sometimes, maybe the other one is doing a little bit more and sometimes the other one, but that's really the discussion you need to have, and once again, there is no excuse to do nothing within your household.
No, it's a wonderful attitude to have. I like that, and yes, if the cooking's not working, please stay from the kitchen.
I have a question for Alain. Do men have equal opportunity to work part-time in in the Netherlands? So, you know, in a family, maybe where the woman's career is where she has extreme talent and is on a track to a leadership role, is it acceptable for her husband perhaps to work part-time, and, you know, take a step back? Is that socially acceptable?
That's actually a very good question. Unfortunately, the answer is no. So of course, when you ask people here in the Netherlands, okay. Is can men work part-time or stay at home? For example, then most people will tell you, okay, yes, that's possible, but socially it's not respectful that people will not do it, actually. So that's also what you see, for example, at schools, when you ask the discussion, when, when mothers work full-time, they blame the mother for sending the children to daycare. They don't blame the men. So that's, I think over the announcer that's, they're blaming the women for it and not to men.
That was a good question. Doreen. So Nina let's, let's pause this chicken and egg scenario or catch 22 situation, if you like. In many ways, diversity inclusion is considered a societal issue and that the burden truly falls on the shoulders of the community leaders, basically, you know, the grassroots level, but with so much practice or malpractice, if you like spilling over into the workplace, it kind of becomes this magnified version of the problem. How much of the responsibility is shared by corporate leaders in your view?
Yeah, so I think Hanadi and I, we touched upon it in the, you know, the very first question about how companies should also encourage the employees to take, make the most of their parental rights and benefits, but what I think is very interesting is that in our field, in finance and accounting, there is the movement towards sustainable and integrated reporting. I hopefully think that this will improve, the attainment of gender quality, because, you know, it is part of the ESG, the environmental, social governance metrics, corporate social responsibility reporting, hopefully will also help in that. You know, Hanadi and I have written about some, articles about gender quality, number five of the UN sustainable developmental goals, and you know, you, if you're in, you're not hypercritical, if you're walking the talk, you have to, all companies have to, do their best to meet this, And, I wanted to point out that I heard a podcast recently, the CEO of Blendoor.com. This is, a very interesting podcast. Blendoor.com is a data analytical company, and they actually rank US public companies according to their D&I metrics and the CEO, she is a black woman herself in a very male dominated tech field. So, it's very inspiring, and, she formed this data analytical company to prevent unconscious bias in recruiting, but then you can use that data to actually rank the companies, and this data is very helpful for ESG reporting, but it also helps potential employees to, before they accept a position. So new diverse talents can go through and see is this company, I just say, like, Amazon, how are they ranked here? And would I fit in, in this am I, if I'm a diverse talent, would I fit in as a woman, et cetera. So this is pressuring companies to improve. and, I think this is going to be very positive for everyone.
Absolutely. I mean, it does start somewhere.
Yeah, so I like to add just one thing here. We've talked again about the shift in mindsets, for the individual, but that also has to happen on, on the corporate level. Companies have to understand that they are a social entity above all thing, and they have a responsibility to where it's the community, the country, the market, they, they operate. And we've seen that shift, still a shy shift from the shareholder to the stakeholder, but a lot, is still to be done. And I think once, once companies, senior leaders start, acting as social, you know, as leaders of social entities, we, the impact, would it be great on the community and on individuals.
You're absolutely spot on, I think, you know, this perception of it being a soft element and whereas Doreen highlighted, so, you know, correctly, it's actually a very hard and difficult element to achieve, but I think, it's a misconception that, that happens on a corporate level. And when you look at the staggering evidence, like you have the likes of McKinsey global Institute, you know, their study found that gender diverse organizations have a 15% higher chance of gaining above average profitability, then, say non gender diverse companies, another study found diverse workforces experienced 35% increase in performance over non diverse ones. And then again, over that, a Boston consulting group study found that such companies generate 19 times more revenue than non diverse teams. I mean, it's really good for business, but why do you think, is it good for business? I mean, we've seen that. Why, why is it so important? Why does it work?
It's actually not only good for a business it's also good on a country level because there are also a research by the World Bank and thereby, and by the IMF, that points to a strong correlation between, the countries progress in closing the gender gap, particularly in education and labor force and its economic competitiveness. So everybody's a winner on a corporate level and on a country level. Now, I think, mostly probably because women tend to work harder to prove themselves, and they are able to create a more engaging, work environment, and as a result, I think they are capable of rallying the team around the company's, goals and mission, which will also result in higher retention and in job satisfaction which we all know increases as well, productivity. It's really, really about creating this diverse workforce. Also in a diverse workforce, you, you could see resolve problems or look at opportunity from different perspective, and point of view and your team is, is I think more place, to challenge the spectra school and, the way things are done. yeah. That's, which of course will improve the decision-making, and as I mentioned, increased productivity overall.
I actually wanted to add something there too, because I completely agree with Hanadi and what I think is interesting is very brief, but working parents in general, I think, again, I'm going back to this that, you know, it's not how long you're working, but it's how you work smarter and more efficient. And I think if you have a set end time. So I'm talking about working parents where you have to pick up somebody from the day care center, every hour working hour, that you're there, you are much more efficient. And if I compare it to, when I was single and working long hours, I had no time when I, you know, I have no set return time, then you could stay on forever. But I don't know if my productivity I don't think it was as good as now when I have, okay, now I have to do cause I want to go and correct the homework with my daughter or whatever, and I think it's much more efficient, and for the company, the event, the company performance of course improves that weight. That's what I think too.
Nina, I read a study today that said that the parents are saying, you know, parents who work from home and homeschool, they're saying the biggest interrupted an average of 10 times per day. Is that an accurate number? You think some people said, no, it's 10 times an hour.
Yeah, I think so. But yeah, but that is true, and I think that, that, that's one of the positive things of that we are now all working from home is that a lot of people, a lot of companies now see that it's actually possible to work from home, because we used to have some companies or managers who were a bit reluctant of that, and they really wanted to have their stuff five days a week within the office. And maybe that's one of the improvements at this moment is they see, okay, it really doesn't matter if people are maybe for a few days working from home and a used the lunch break or a few hours during the day to do some homeschooling with the children or to, to something else. And then they work in the evening. So I think that's one of the positive things of this moment, and of course, technology is also a big enabler for that, because it doesn't matter where you are. If a thing is in the cloud, you can work wherever you want. So it doesn't really matter anymore.
Actually, that, that was very connected to my next question and Alain this question is to you and to Doreen, indeed, you know, this past year has been so insightful beyond measure and so educational. It disrupted some sectors, accelerated others destroyed, a multitude of others, but ultimately it put a huge burden on not just women as we noted earlier. Yes, indeed, probably women suffered the grades are grunt, but on parents and families in general, and that whole idea of working from home, but how do you think companies can actually help to reduce that pressure and, you know, at a time of pandemic, and I'm sure we've had to do a lot of that at IMA and as leaders you've had to do that for your team. So what are some of the best practices that you've seen with regards to alleviating that pressure of your team members?
Well, I'll start question was for me and Alain, but, know we are concerned not just about the pressure on women, but also the pressure on our male colleagues as well. And I think that both genders benefit from family friendly workplace environment, I think Alain would agree with that. So we've, you know, we've, scheduled Friday afternoons. Most of us continue to work. It's not like we have Fridays off, but, and this, of course it's different in Hanadi's region, but no meetings on the, you know, some days they're just no meetings blocked. I think that's important. We've also, brought in resources for employees to access for mental health counseling. Those kinds of things are also really important to recognize the stress and to alleviate it. I think that we need to make sure that, the man that we're working with who also worked very, very, very hard are also given opportunities to support their families and, and be, available to their families. This pandemic has, changed all of us changed the workplace. It's going to be very interesting to see, how we all come out of it in the coming year.
Yeah, true. And in that thing, indeed, children is to share its obligation between men and women's. So, if there is something, yeah. If they are sick for, for example, then don't make a fuss about it. If you're a manager, allow them to go to school, to pick up your children and then to take care of it. I think that's really setting an example, not to make a fuss of it. It's, they will probably do within the evening and then it's all fine again. And, yeah, as a manager, sometimes you'll do something, something, sometimes you win something. So they, for a few hours, they are way, but later on, that will, that will be fine again. So it's a shared obligation. I really believe.
And I mean, we talk about the, the, the role of corporations in, in all of this diversity and inclusion conversation, but when, when it comes down to it, where IMA, and IMA, has a dedicated D&I Director, I mean, their core focus is driving the practice internally, and then seeing that resonate obviously with external stakeholders, but let's be realistic here. You know, not all companies have that same level of luxury or scale or capacity to assign a dedicated D&I lead position. So, and this question is to you Doreen, because you're, you're a part of the steering committee, if you like at IMA, and if you were to give advice to corporate leaders, you know, who in the interim, until they have a dedicated D&I director, how can they create encouraged breed that kind of culture and nurture it on the long haul? And then who's supposed to actually take ownership of this when which function is it HR? Is it a C-level position? Is it a function leader? Is it all of the above? How do you go around doing it?
Those are really, really important questions. So it has to be owned at the top of the organization, know at the CEO level, it must be embraced diversity, equity inclusion must be core values that are embraced at the very top of the organization or anything else will be meaningless. So, you know, I think that's, that's the most important thing. there needs to be an element throughout, so HR needs to embrace diversity, equity and inclusion in its hiring practices and making sure that supervisors are acting appropriately. Of course, that's an HR function, but it's also in a, the market development function. You need to recognize who your market is and who, who you're marketing to and understand that for diversity, equity, and inclusion. I hope that we're not, that companies are not jumping on a bandwagon and thinking, okay, we need to create the diversity and inclusion role and that's it, you know, then we're done. That reminds me of tokenism. that was so prevalent when I started my career, you know, back in the seventies. That's just not going to work, you know, saying, okay, this person is the face of diversity at our organization is absolutely the wrong approach. It needs to be, throughout the organization and smaller companies can absolutely achieve that, through, consciousness raising, awareness training through, you know, embracing this as a core value through reading, through sharing, bringing in consultants there are remarkable consultants that can help organizations to recognize where they have gaps and what they need to, to fill. Our diversity toolkit that you've referenced, Rouba, is one of many resources, that companies have available to them, but it needs to be made a priority at the top of the organization and embraced throughout and not resident in one department or one role.
A beautiful recommendation actually. Thank you, Doreen. So this is a question that I would love to hear all of your views on, and whoever's comfortable answering first, please go right ahead. So when we look at women in senior management roles, the big, big question, you know, that everyone's been researching and investigating for years, it's probably one of the biggest challenges because no matter how much that segment has grown, it's still a minute. So when we look at say 2019, the numbers grew by 29% and that was maintained throughout 2020. and then you look at the fact that the global midmarket and global midmarket companies have at least one, a woman in a senior position, but senior position, that's 87% of them. So these are really promising figures, but then you look at, you know, the history of that when you all started your careers, this was not the scene and it was far from it. And having three women on this podcast probably you've had to really find your way to the top, to become of the senior leadership team. What was a kind of defining moment that you've been through where you thought, wow, I can see a dynamic shift. Things are not the same anymore, I'm in a new era. So what was that instant that you realize that things are really changing and I'm privileged to be in that? And I can, I can go all the way to the top.
I can start actually, and without really undermining all the encouraging steps that companies and countries are making, are making two words, equal opportunity, equal, gender pay and what have you. But I cannot say that the dynamic shift has happened. I mean, to me, yeah, to me, I still see around me, women paying a very high price for their success, making huge compromises, especially if they're a working moms. And, you know, I touched a lot on that. So, and to me, as long as we still meet the quotas to ensure the equal participation of women in leadership position, that means that there's still a lot, to be made. And I, and I think it also, there's a, there's a big role for the government, especially in our region because legislations have to be made to tackle these social and cultural barriers to encourage more women to enter the workforce, and again, I also think that with the fourth and the fourth industrial revolution, the digital revolution, this also will have a great impact on women participation, because we've seen, women, presented and STEM education is still low, especially in our, region. So there's still a lot to be made to, for me to say that there's a dynamic, a dynamic shift. Yes. that are, you know, there's the willingness to change, but still a lot, a lot to be done.
Yeah. I have to agree also with Hanadi, but what I see to be like, maybe put some positive spin. I believe that the, the generations after us, so we're, there's baby boomers on here. We're Gen X, most of us on this call. I mean, we faced a lot of, this old fashion cultures., but I think that maybe the millennials and Gen Y Gen Z, I mean, they're going to be, I think they're going to put work-life balance also, have that as major focus. I mean, we already, we hear from Alain that he has a, as a male saying, this is good, but it's actually, you know, our parents, you know, do they support that? They were also had this old fashioned ideas, you know, maybe not all I'm saying, but you know, you men couldn't take paternity leave maybe because their parents said, Hey, what, what are you? You can't do that. You're a male and things like that. But I think that's changing now, and, and that is not yet a dynamic shift. I agree with Hanadi, but I see it changing and Rouba, you know, we did that webinar last year together about reinventing organizations. You know, this teal organizations people want to get out of this toxic work culture. They don't want to be just climbing up the corporate ladder just for money. I think they want to master all of them. They're embracing more, even this pandemic. I mean, you want to have family, hobby work-life balance, you know, not be stressed, you know, meditate, all these kinds of things. I think this is going to help everybody in the end. Hopefully the, our younger generation.
No, you're right. That Generation Z takes, takes everything, at a much higher volume and they fight for their rights so easily. It's effortless to them. And Doreen, how's your view on this?
So I've been in the workforce for four decades, quite a long time and old stories I could tell, but yeah, breakthrough moment when I, when I had a great deal of hope was when my son, you know, I have three adult children. My youngest is in his thirties, and I remember when he was, you know, mid twenties and had just gotten a promotion and he was working for a leader, a female leader, and to him, it was no different. Like he wasn't, he wasn't complaining about the boss lady or he was looking to her for leadership, for mentorship, for, you know, career progression, and I thought, yes, that's great. So that was a moment for me that I remember really clearly. but there have also been other moments where, where it's a stark reminder that there's still work to be done. You know, where, you know, where a woman will be automatically tasked with taking the minutes of a meeting, for example, or, or excluded from, you know, some social aspect of work, these things still happen, and, we need to be conscious of them and we need to focus on equity and make sure that we are filling those gaps and giving women the same opportunities and the same respect in the workplace. So one, one thing that I think is really important for all of us is to pay attention to other people's daughters, to think of people entering the workplace, as you know, the sons and daughters of your friends, your family, men have always taken an interest in other people's sons and, coached them and, you know, been leaders on their sports teams and, boys grow up knowing what their, parents, friends, do, you know, the male partners. We need to make sure that we're paying attention to other people's daughters and making sure that they understand what opportunities are available to them and giving them a leg up, explaining something to them, helping them to see what the path is because it's not always clear. You don't always know. I wish I had had that as a young professional. I wish I had had somebody paying attention to me that way and giving me good advice and not having to figure it all out. So that's something that I have tried to do.
And yet you've done so wonderfully for yourself without all that mentorship. Can you imagine if you had mentorship, you'd be president.
Maybe queen, I don't know.
And I mean, Alain, you're the male, kind of a participant in this conversation. And so have you noticed any kind of, maybe it was like, Oh, there are quite a few women in this room, or when was it like that you noticed that women were gaining more ground and more freedom and, you know, how has that felt for you?
Well, actually my first manager is she was a female, so I'm really used to it when I graduated from university, but, but for, well, you, you see that it's really changing now. So, of course IMA is a great example. I believe almost 50% of the global board of directors are women. Also, when I look at my colleagues within IMA, like now most of them are women. So I think that's really good, for IMA, but what I really think was a breakthrough moment was, and not for my own career, but a while ago I saw a press release from an audit firm here in Europe, announcing the new managing boards, and all of them were male. So, and that, that's not good of course, because we just had this whole discussion. So, and then you saw people within, on social media, but also on, in the media itself, questioning that company. Okay, why are you doing this? And I think that's really important. That's when we see that the companies don't have representation or really low representation, you know, female within their board, that we questioned them. And that's something we should do as a customer, as an investor, etcetera, but as an employee as well, because it's not a good thing, because of financial reasons, because of ethical reasons when there's not enough diversity. And I think that was really an important thing because you didn't see that at least I didn't see that 10 years ago.
That's great. I mean, I don't think anything celebrates, an International Women's Day like hearing all of these beautiful views, very empowering from the males and the females equally, and again, you know, being part of IMA is truly empowering on its own. And I'm glad that we get to record these podcasts and share these kinds of messages with the world. So thank you so much for your generous, sharing and contribution to this session, and indeed Happy International Women's day to all of you.
This has been Count Me In IMA's podcast, providing you with the latest perspectives of thought leaders from the accounting and finance profession. If you like, what you heard, and you'd like to be counted in for more relevant accounting and finance education, visit IMA's website at www.imanet.org.