Celebrating women who push boundaries

International Women's Day is just round the corner and Citibank will celebrate it by hosting a client event "Pushing the boundaries" on Thursday evening at the Raffles hotel.

Some 90 guests are expected to listen to several remarkable women in Singapore who have pushed back the barriers and led the way for others to emulate. Among the panellists are Joanne Soo, Lee Peh Gee and Sim Yi Hui, members of the first female team from Singapore to scale Mount Everest in 2009.

Citi, Singapore's largest employer in the financial sector with about 10,000 staff, has a high percentage of women in senior positions.

According to Michael Zink, head of ASEAN and Citi country officer for Singapore, last year, over 40 per cent of Singaporean staff holding more senior roles are female.

He added: "Today, Singaporean women are pushing the boundaries and leading the way for other women.

"At Citi, we have been a strong supporter of gender diversity and there has been an increasing number of local female talent taking on bigger roles in our organisation."

Globally, some 30 per cent of Citi's managing directors are women while there are now 19 women in the role of chief country officer, up from four in 2008. Citi has also added two more women to its board of directors in December last year, bringing the percentage of women leaders on the board to over 30 per cent.

In contrast, women held about 10 per cent of board seats of 30 STI firms last year up from 7.6 per cent the previous year, according to a report by the Diversity Action Committee.

Jorge Osorio, head of human resources, Citi Singapore, attributed Citi's success to its efforts at cultivating an inclusive workplace. He added: "Over the decades, we have worked intensively to set in place leadership and awareness programmes to ensure that all employees, regardless of gender, are provided with equal opportunities and rewarded based on merit.

"We have established councils catering to the diverse needs of our workforce, including the Citi Singapore Women Council, which raises awareness for and helps to unlock the potential of women in the organisation.

ASEAN corporate and investment banking vice-chairman at Citi Singapore Tracey Woon said: "Although investment banking is a traditionally male dominated environment, I have never felt disadvantaged in any way at Citi and have always been given equal opportunities to excel in my role.

"Ultimately, it is our passion and support from our families and the communities that we work in, which will enable us to succeed in our careers."

Another senior staffer Chan San San, head of wealth management and segments at Citi Singapore, said: "My journey at Citi, as an employee and a mother, has been made possible by supportive bosses and colleagues.

"Through Citi Work Strategies, I benefited from the flexible work arrangements, which allowed me to attend to my child, while still actively participating in work presentations and conferences from home.

"Despite these arrangements, I was still offered new roles and opportunities, such as leading and participating in several task forces, including global assignments to New York.

"Citi offers both the flexibility and empowerment to its employees, allowing us to design a schedule which works for both our professional and personal lives."


This article was first published on March 2, 2016.
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