June 26, 2013; Issue No. CCIX

Issue No. CCIX; June 26, 2013


“Women can and will create new economies, but they will do it faster if we commit to policies that are far-sighted enough to recognize their potential.” – Prime Minister of Malaysia Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

Representing the world’s diversity, over 1,100 women participated in the 2013 Global Summit of Women in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on June 6-8, a record in the 23-year history of the Summit. From Azerbaijan to France to Honduras to Zambia, women leaders in business and government from 72 countries came together in a spirit of warmth and openness, prepared to share strategies for increasing women’s economic opportunities, to make new business contacts, and to learn from the distinguished presenters and participants alike.

Malaysian Welcome
From their arrival in Kuala Lumpur International Airport through the closing Royal Dinner at the new Palace hosted by the Queen, the delegates were treated with extraordinary hospitality by the Malaysian hosts. Chair of the 2013 Summit Datin Rosmah binti Mansor, wife of the Prime Minister, and the Ministry of International Trade and Industry, with assistance from the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development, dazzled Summit participants with graciousness as hosts of a Welcome Dinner at the Prime Minister’s Residence in Putrajaya in addition to the Royal Dinner and entertained with wonderful cultural performances highlighted by the Permata Seni Children’s Choir. “Our Malaysian Hosts rolled out the red carpet for everyone,” states Summit President Irene Natividad, “and gave all delegates a most memorable global forum.”

Doing Business at the Summit
As delightful as the cultural events were, the main reason 1,100 women came to Malaysia was to do business — and deals were done. At the B2B business match-making sessions organized by MATRADE of the Ministry of International Trade and Industry between Malaysian women-owned businesses and visiting Summit delegates, $8.5 million of deals resulted. In addition, 30 entrepreneurs showcased products and services ranging from Pashmina shawls from India to Malaysian food products to handicrafts from the Congo to MCM’s luxury leather goods at the Summit’s Women’s Expo (WEXPO). Others are pursuing contacts made and consortiums formed among participants with high potential for cross-border business.

While deals were made, delegates were also inspired by the expertise and passion of the presenters at the Summit. Some of the plenary sessions are summarized below:


To provide an economic backdrop for the Summit’s discussions, Marisa Drew, Managing Director and Co-Head of EMEA Investment Banking for Credit Suisse and one of the top two women investment bankers in Europe, opened the session by examining Megatrends — major alterations of society, which have long-term impact in the rate of economic growth in different parts of the world. Among her key points:

  • The world economy is continuing to shift from developed markets to emerging markets primarily in Asia and Africa — In 1980, developed markets accounted for 56% of the world’s GDP. By 2030, emerging markets are expected to make up 63% of the world’s GDP compared to 37% in developed markets. While developed economies will have increasingly aging populations, the young will dominate emerging markets.
  • Emerging Markets will shift from export-focused to consumer-driven economies — Given projected strong economic growth, increasing wages, and higher per capita income, purchasing power will increase as poverty rates decrease. This leads to a massive expansion of a global middle class. Growth generators in emerging markets are then likely to move from exports and investments only to consumption of goods and services.
  • Women workers will increase to 1 billion by 2030. Countries which address the gender equity issues in the workplace – recruitment, pay, promotion, work/life challenges — will increase their GDP substantially. To increase women’s access to corporate leadership roles requires public pressure and government action.

Karen Watson, Managing Director and Senior Vice President at Nielsen, followed by sharing the key findgins of Nielsen’s recent consumer report as it relates to women — their views on the global economy, their priorities and their predispositions. The survey revealed that:

  • Asian consumers stand as the most confident, while Europeans are the most pessimistic, reflecting the current state of each region’s economies.
  • While most women are risk-averse globally, when it comes to investment volatility, the one group most ready to take on risk is Asian women.

For more of Marisa Drew’s observations and to view Karen Watson’s presentation, visit http://www.globewomen.org/summit/2013/2013presentations.html


“The cost of not recognizing the contributions of women to economic growth is very large, one that economies looking to move ahead ignore at their own peril,” stated His Royal Highness Raja Nazrin Shah, Crown Prince, State of Perak, Malaysia, at a special Summit luncheon program looking at ways to engage more men in gender diversity initiatives in the workplace. His advice: “create a sense of shared interest, so that men will be champions of women in the workplace.” For a brief video of the Prince’s comments at the Summit, Click here or video below:

Having set the tone on this issue, the Prince’s opening remarks were followed by a lively discussion among four CEOs chaired by Indira Lakshmanan of Bloomberg News.

  • Carnival Australia’s CEO Ann Sherry: “By mentoring and pairing (high potential women with male managers), you develop an understanding that his success becomes linked with his ability to mentor someone new to the business.”
  • Honorary Chairman of Berlitz International Yukako Uchinaga (Japan): “Diversity is clearly a business strategy — we set targets, do evaluations. If the midline male managers meet their targets, they get a prize!”
  • Managing Director of Taj-Deloitte Gianmarco Monsellato (France): “I want to have a balanced team with diverse backgrounds, and I try to teach each of my leaders to do the same.” And “Business is not war. No one should make a sacrifice to succeed in business, especially family life.”
  • Country General Manager of IBM Malaysia Paul Moung: “The root cause of under-representation of women in lack of sponsorship and mentoring, lack of management support, and not having enough face-time with senior executives.”


“Why does it take three women to be on a board for women to be considered authentic board members?” – asked Ana Maria Llopis , Chair of the Board of Dia Corporation in Spain and Board Director of Societe Generale in France, who participated in a lively debate on ”Quotas and Targets vs. Voluntary Initiatives,” chaired again by the Bloomberg’s Indira Lakshmanan. Joining Ms. Llopis in support of quotas was Vuyo Mahlati, former Chair of the South African Post Office, while Angelina Kwan, CEO of Stratford Finance in Hong Kong, and Cassandra Kelly, Joint CEO of Pottinger, Inc. of Australia argued in favor of voluntary initiatives.

In her opening salvo, Llopis cited numerous reports showing the business case for women directors – the more women on boards and senior management, the better is a company’s financial performance. “However, the problem of gender bias has contributed to qualified women not being in top executive positions.”

In response, Kwan said quotas would bring down the quality of decision making in boardrooms. “Instead of quotas, we must have a paradigm shift in thinking. Initiating quotas would cause resentment and see more family members – sisters and mothers – on the boards instead of qualified women,” she said. (For a brief video clip of a debate exchange, click here or photo below

This debate took place against a backdrop of data shared by Summit President Irene Natividad from the 2013 report of Corporate Women Directors International on “Women Directors in the Fortune Global 200” showing that only 15% of board seats were held by women in the 200 largest companies in the world based in 26 countries. Where there has been significant progress is in countries with proactive initiatives to increase the percentage of women directors, whether through quotas, stock exchange listing requirements or gender diversity language in corporate governance codes. The Summit’s Host Country, Malaysia, has a target of 30% of board seats in all companies to be held by women.

The result of the debate: In a show of hands, participants overwhelmingly supported the need for quotas to be instituted for women on corporate boards.


“Sit up, sit at the table, and speak with confidence. That’s half the battle won.” – Indra Nooyi

Indra Nooyi, Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo, Inc. participated in a Leadership Dialogue with Summit President Irene Natividad. PepsiCo’s Chairman since 2007 and CEO since 2006, Ms. Nooyi shared her wealth of expertise and knowledge with Summit participants on the subject of leadership. One of the key pieces of advice that Ms. Nooyi bestowed upon the crowd is that women should speak up, speak with confidence and make themselves heard when making their points in corporate meetings and in all aspects of their lives. They should assert themselves as equals to their male counterparts, who will then in turn view women in this manner as well.

To hear Indra Nooyi discuss how women can get ahead, click here for the video link.

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