Take greater risks to expand clout
Isabel Aguilera, former president of General Electric Spain and former CEO of Google Spain and Portugal, said women need to take more risks and control of their own life to be influential people in her keynote speech.
Having worked in the IT industry for a long time, Aguilera said technology is the key for women to be treated equally.
"We need to foster specially selected capabilities to be eligible, we need to rely on technology, we need to focus on special companies, brands, sectors and geographies to leverage our efforts, being conscious of today's and tomorrow's world trends in all aspects," she said.
Aguilera said managing is about making decisions and women can be included in such a process by raising their value at an extraordinary level.
"When we look for others' inclusiveness, we will get our own one as collateral positive effect and a high return on our investment, a more fair and sustainable world, and at the same time, a more competitive one," she said.
In Korea, women are expanding their role in the judiciary and many other professional fields. Still, the corporate sector is one of the slowest areas in terms of giving fair opportunities to women. Most executive positions are dominated by males and only 13 of 500 top companies across the globe has female CEOs.
Shireen Ann Zaharah Muhiudeen, managing director of Corston-Smith Asset Management, Bill Powell, Asia editor and China Bureau chief of Fortune Magazine, Ha Yung-ku, CEO of Citibank Korea and Sue Shim, chief marketing officer of Samsung Electronics joined the discussion with Aguilera moderated by business journalist William Holstein.
Ha of Citibank said that the rate of female managers and executives at Citibank is relatively higher than other companies in Korea.
The Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry surveyed 100 major companies in Korea and 23 percent of total employees were women and only 1.1 percent of the executives. However, about half of Citibank's total staffers are females and 12.5 percent of its executives are women.
He said one of the megatrends is diversifying and corporations have to accommodate themselves in the trend. "Companies provide gender equality would have competitiveness," he said. Citibank Korea is monitoring gender equality and women’s rights through Voice of Employee feedback and a woman’s council.
He suggested female workers set the goal of being executives and network actively. "Be confident enough to succeed without the premium of being a woman," Ha said.
Currently the highest ranking woman in Samsung Electronics, Shim has experience in P&G headquarters in the Unites States as a global marketing director.
Shim said successful global companies offer equal opportunities regardless of gender or ethnicity.
"In Samsung, I have to be conscious that I am one of the few female executives. However, Korean companies are interested in recruiting outstanding females and I think the number of female executives will grow in the near future," she said.
Shim also suggested women in senior management positions be open-minded and active in contact with other parts of society in addition to their work.