Sanofi at the Heart of the Women’s Forum, Singapore: “The gender balance issue in Asia is as diverse as the region itself”.
As we took our place at the Women’s Forum for the Economy & Society (WF) global meeting in Singapore, our delegation showed their courage to speak up, their stamina to carry on and a deep seated belief in our goal of achieving gender equality and diversity at work.
A partner of the WF for eight years, we joined 800 men and women from around the world to discuss ‘Bridging worlds for inclusive innovation’ and debate how women can equip themselves to face the challenges of the future.
Rumana Haque-Ahmad, Head of Regulatory Affairs Asia, shared her vision on why the future is ready to become a more gender balanced world: “By 2025, it is estimated that approximately 850 million jobs will be at risk because of AI or digital disruption, and the strongest impact will be felt by women. But the silver lining is that women will be better suited than your traditional alpha-males for this new world. In this new world we will need collaborators and coalition builders. And guess which gender does that the best!” she said.
In Sanofi Asia, the need for balance has rather surprisingly swung the other way. In Thailand, Indochina and the Philippines the majority of our senior leaders are women. The management team in Vietnam & Cambodia is 80% female, while across Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore, Sanofi has 60% women amongst all employees and 54% women at senior leadership.
“If you look at Asia overall, especially at senior level, we are doing quite well: women represent 43% of our senior leaders and 45% of our country chairs in the region, but on the other end of the spectrum, in countries like India and Bangladesh women form only 10% of our workforce,” said Cyril Grandchamp-Desraux, Gem Asia Head and part of our Gender Balance Network.
“The gender balance issue in Asia is really as diverse as the region itself. This presents us with a unique challenge to look at the situation country by country and to tackle it taking into account the local specificities and realities of each country.”
Cyril is convinced that everyone has a role to play in pushing forward equality on a global level: “Gender balance is not about women, it’s really all about balance. And this is extremely true in Asia, if you take countries like Thailand and Malaysia where more than 70% of our employees and senior leaders are women. So the challenge we’re trying to overcome there is very different from the traditional western vision of gender balance issues, traditionally focused on women.
“All of this makes it very natural for everyone at all levels of the organization in Asia to champion the need for balance – whether it is for more women or men in our organization, depending on each country’s specific situation – and to actively contribute to fostering an inclusive workplace where everyone can thrive, irrespective of gender, nationality, age, etc.”
Sanofi will continue the champion the gender balance agenda and participate with a 30-strong delegation in the upcoming 2018 Women's Forum Global Meeting (14-16 November in Paris, France).
The 14th edition of the Women’s Forum Global Meeting in Paris building on the theme Bridging humanity for inclusive progress. More than 2000 delegates – women and men, scientists and policymakers, business leaders and trailblazers – from more than 70 countries will address engagement as a responsibility and an opportunity. In more than 100 sessions and workshops delegates will discuss and engage how to create the conditions to unlock fresh solutions through women’s leadership and contribute to a more inclusive world for all.
And in this inclusive world, “There’s no more women on one side and men on the other side,” said Cyril. “I certainly cannot speak for all men, but for me, it goes well beyond belonging to one gender or the other. As a man, a manager, a husband and a father, it feels only natural to role model and champion the need for gender balance, as it will benefit the whole, not just one group or the other.”