International Women's Day 2017 #BeBoldForChange

Our panel of speakers and Women in Business group Chairperson, Dora Lui, make their pledges to #BeBoldForChange

UN International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women. This year, we focus on striving to #BeBoldForChange.

On 8 March 2017, the British Chamber of Commerce Women in Business group together with our Diversity sponsor Barclays, celebrated the day with a spectacular panel of speakers. Panellists included Goh Swee-Chen, Chairman of Shell Companies in Singapore; Liz Corbin, Singapore Bureau Chief of the BBC; Diviya G. K., Singapore Women’s National Cricket Team Captain; Rachel Eng, Deputy Chairman of Wong Partnership; and Guillermo Cabeza, Managing Director and Head of BNC Traded Assets APAC at Barclays Bank PLC. The event was moderated by Hayden Majajas, the Asia Pacific Head of Diversity & Inclusion at Bloomberg.

Addressing the room in advance of the panel discussion, H.E Scott Wightman, the British High Commissioner in Singapore started off the session’s theme with the following statement:

“By addressing the issues of women around the world, we can impact and tackle foreign policy issues worldwide.”

Further elaborating on the importance of education for women world-wide:

“If every girl around the world could attend secondary school, it would in turn tackle issues such as malnutrition, birth control and economic development.”

His Excellency made a commitment in his introduction to make a change in his own daily life to #BeBoldForChange:



During an energetic and often humorous panel discussion, moderator Hayden Majajas asked the panellists to share what gender equality meant to them. The panel agreed that it is about getting past the typical buzzwords and language used in diversity, and ensuring that opportunities are equal for all.  We have moved beyond statements at senior or a globally-directed level to people discussing the topic within the office, in recruitment policies, and in the news – it has become mainstream in the agenda which can only mean good things for future progress.


Moderator Hayden Majajas tasks a selfie with the assembled members and guests


Within consumer-facing industries such as the media, Liz and Hayden addressed monitoring which suggests that women and men access news content differently, and there is more work to be done to ensure that women are interested in, and are reached by, relevant news channels and content, and to ensure that programme guests reflect a balance of both genders. Within the world of sport, Diviya talked of the typically biased reaction men and boys have towards female players such as her, particularly in coaching roles. They will challenge the skills of the female team but once proven, competition increases in both genders to prove who the better player is. There are clear benefits in mixing genders during training and at competition level.


Swee-Chen outlined Shell’s commitment to target a 40% female representation in their downstream business by 2020, which currently stands at 28.5%. To achieve this, along with other steps, they are addressing the language of their job postings to ensure they are gender neutral, a problem typical within the energy and utilities industry.


All panellists agreed for future progress it is important for female employees to see inspiring female senior management within their organisation. Guillermo encouraged managers to step away from their desks and spend time talking to their employees, learning from their stories and bringing people into the conversation. Be the leader that others are inspired to follow. Rachel also reiterated the same point, advising that within the legal industry young female associates may be discouraged if they do not see women achieving partner status within the firm or local marketplace.


After the moderated portion of the event guests were encouraged to make their own personal commitment to #BeBoldForChange and to set reminders in their calendar to check on their progress, holding themselves accountable to be the change that they want to see in others.


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For more information on UN International Women’s Day, visit