Meritocracy And Gender Parity

by Patrick Liew on July 18, 2017

We need to press on to find out why there’s a disproportionate number of women on boards and in other leadership positions and take proactive actions to resolve the issue.

If we don’t leverage on women’s talents, we may not be tapping on the full potential of our human resources to improve productivity and competitiveness, and achieve greater good for our future.

After all, women hold up half of the sky for us.

According to a report by the World Economic Forum (WEF), Singapore “can rely on the most flexible and the second most attractive labor market in the world, although the participation of women in the workforce remains relatively low (75th).”

The WEF also states that “expansion of opportunities for women has the potential to transform the economies, societies and demographics of countries as a whole.”

However, gender parity should not be practiced blindly. It should not affect overall effectiveness, efficiency and results.

On the other hand, not addressing gender parity may cause a cascade of negative consequences.

An organization that has no women or a lack of women in leadership positions may suffer planning myopia and deficiency in its operation.

It may not have a proper perspective of female stakeholders, including employees and customers and get a more complete feedback from them.

For example, it may be better for a female leader in engineering to convince other females to take up engineering courses and careers.

When there’s gender diversity in the leadership team, there’ll be a diversity of ideas. It can also help to contribute to more creative and innovative ideas and breakthroughs.

At this time and age, it cannot be said that there are no available female talents or that these talents cannot be developed to take on more responsible positions.

To eradicate the root cause, we should find out why there’s a low ratio of women in leadership positions and take proactive actions to resolve the issue.

Ask ourselves, “Why do we not have more women and more promotion of women in leadership positions?”

One possible clue can be deduced from a statement by Willie Cheng, Chairman of Singapore Institute of Directors. He mentioned in an article, “”A fundamental issue is the process by which new board members are being recruited. They tend to reach out to their personal network. We need to get past this old boys’ network approach,” he noted.”

If that being the case, then we may have committed gross injustice to our women folks.

I’m not suggesting by any means that there should be a quota for women in leadership positions. On the other hand, we should not be satisfied with having such a low number of women in senior positions.

Meritocracy still applies but we have to deepen our understanding of meritocracy.

Meritocracy should not be about achieving a higher position at the expense of others or leaving them behind in life.

In the process of forging ahead, the successful should also reach out to help others raise their level of performance and accomplishment.

They should share in the responsibility of helping those who do not enjoy the same position, privilege, and advantages as themselves.

To progress, we should recognise and reward those who stand out and stay ahead on the basis of their talents, performance and results.

However, it does not mean that those who are not as successful have a negative attitude, are not talented, and are not working hard to improve their results.

We should not leave any segment of society behind and we should help every segment to find ways to catch up and improve themselves.

In this regard, there’s definitely more to be done to ensure gender parity in the Parliament and at all levels of leadership position.

We should continue to help headhunt female talents and groom them for leadership positions.

In a bigger picture, I call upon fellow humans to help women expand their potential and pursue their passions in life.

Let us help them enjoy equal rights and opportunities and maximize their contributions to their loved ones, community, workplace and society.

Truth be told, women are oftentimes born to play on an un-level playing field.

They face many disadvantages throughout their life, including negative discrimination about women’s place in society.

Women have to generally work harder to prove their worth.

They have to make more sacrifices in finding their place under the family and organizational sun.

We can certainly do more and do better to help women enjoy their rightful place in businesses and in other aspects of life.

The purpose of meritocracy is to unite and not to divide the people, to advance their interests and not to serve any personal interests.

It is to to raise the tide for all – and not for any exclusive groups – to achieve a higher standard of living.


I hope this message will find a place in your heart.

By the way, I have also recorded other reflections.

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