Why Should We Care About Women Leaders?

An interview between Phillip Thompson, the Vice President Global Growth, Client Services and Marketing of Kepner-Tregoe, with Alice Chou, Global HRBP – Corporate Functions, R&D, and Worldwide Business of a global leading semiconductor company.

Why should we care about women leaders? In a recent interview with Alice Chou, an HR executive with 25+ years of global experience, she made it clear that embracing women leaders should be a priority in corporations. “If we do not have the right representation at every level, we might underestimate risks. A diverse, inclusive company reflects the customer base. If we only create a positive experience for 50 percent of the population, it won’t work.”

Fundamentally the employee experience is everything to Chou, “Who do you recruit, attract and retain? Ignoring half of the population is not viable.”

In Chou’s work developing leaders in global organizations, she recognizes the value of mentoring, sponsorships and alliances. “In organizations where the leadership is mostly male, it is important that male leaders mentor women as well as men,” she says. “If men are women’s allies and mentors, they are advocating for them and providing access to leadership networks as they develop their own networks and credibility. In organizations with no female leaders, bring them in from other organizations to speak about their experiences and act as role models.”

As a global HR professional, Chou has been based in the US, Europe and Asia, traveled extensively and lead global employee, talent and leadership initiatives. “I don’t think stereotyping or characterizing cultures for how the society values women in the workplace has a lot of value,” she says. She notes that women in every culture need to look for ways to overcome obstacles and minimize self-doubt. “Women leaders have very high bars, and we can act as our own worst enemies, being self-critical. We need to also celebrate ourselves and accept setbacks as learning opportunities.”

She notes that when there are job openings, organizations need to be more proactive in finding women candidates and should be aware that, too often, women don’t put themselves forward. “Male candidates come to me, while women don’t step forward and are less likely to fight for a bigger role. We won’t raise a hand until we are 100 or 120 percent ready while men are more willing to take the chance, even when they are not ready.”

“I would say it takes everything together to create a corporate environment that supports women leaders. Organizations that are flexible help women continue their career, and that’s very important.” She adds, “With programs like childcare, job share, part-time jobs and sabbaticals, women don’t need to leave the company.”

“I think the employee experience is everything, it affects whether you can attract and hire, and how you build a customer-focused culture,” says Chou. “It is increasingly clear that a positive employee experience will enhance overall management capability and determine success.”

Since the pandemic there has been a renewed emphasis on how to recruit and retain talent. “We need to reexamine what we have done well and what we can do better to improve the overall customer experience,” says Chou. “If, as leaders, we focus on the employee experience, we as employees will focus better on the customer experience. Delight our people and we will delight our customers.”

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