Sarawak Energy’s professional networking group for women capped off a busy year of programmes and activities that had moved into the digital space with a Fireside Chat featuring women in senior positions in their respective fields.
The Sarawak Energy Leading Women Network (SELWN) brought together women leaders to share their career pathways with about 400 employees of Sarawak Energy recently.
The virtual Fireside Chat session titled “Discover the Leader within You” featured panellists Siti Aisah Adenan (SELWN Executive Champion and Sarawak Energy’s Senior Vice President for Corporate Services), Dr Wei-nee Chen (Hibiscus Petroleum’s Vice President for New Energy Ventures) and Peing Tajang (SELWN External Stakeholders Engagement Co-Lead and Sarawak Energy’s General Manager for Corporate Communication).
The session was moderated by Chief Executive Officer of LeadWomen, Dr Marcella Lucas.
This Fireside Chat kicks off the SELWN Empowering Women Series, an initiative by Sarawak Energy to promote workforce diversity and inclusiveness in building a high-performance corporate culture, aligned with the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goal 5 on Gender Equality and Women Empowerment.
Siti Aisah said greater diversity and inclusion at decision-making levels led to more robust decisions.
“In promoting gender diversity, we are not talking about replacing men with women. Rather, we are promoting a balance of competent men and women whose different approaches and perspectives can contribute to more considered decisions,” she said.
“We want to ensure our younger female talent can learn from the different paths to success that our speakers took. We want to showcase role models and to encourage and facilitate more participation of our women employees in decision-making positions.”
On a question about women leaders being emotional, Chen said it was gender stereotype. But she agreed women could use their emotional intelligence effectively in their leadership roles. She also pointed out the attributes of a good leader was more important than their gender or age.
Chen commended SELWN’s efforts in leadership mentoring and providing support to women in overcoming challenges in a male-dominated power utility industry.
On the aspect of balancing career and personal responsibilities, Peing said women should say yes to leadership opportunities and from there, build on their strengths and work on the gaps.
Chen realised that when it came to taking leadership opportunities, men and women differed significantly. Where the men would jump into it, the women tend to be cautious.
She advised: “If you want to survive and move forward in a male-dominated industry when an opportunity comes along, just jump into it. Good opportunities are very hard to come by.”
When asked about what kind of attitudes or attributes make the best leader, Siti Aisah said that a leader had to walk the talk and be consistent when making decisions. She also highlighted that humility was a key attribute in leaders.
Chen agreed with Siti Aisah: “Humility is very important. Once you are a leader, you should not put yourself in an ivory tower.”
She added leaders needed to demonstrate leadership by example through their capability and by playing by the same rules. She also believed a leader should have a strong vision for the people and should not lead by fear.
“Learn to build a relationship based on trust, open and frank discussion, and not on fear.”
Peing advised: “Find your leadership style that suits your personality. Be credible and authentic throughout the journey, believe in yourself and most importantly, be excellent at what you do.”
The session also highlighted the importance of an empowering network and support circle in progressing up the leadership ladder.
SELWN was launched in 2017 to develop leadership competencies and capabilities of women employees of Sarawak Energy and to maximise their potential by supporting their career development aspirations. The formation of SELWN is in line with Malaysia’s target of achieving 30 per cent women representation on boards and senior management teams.
The company is pushing forward to enable more female employees to ascend to leadership positions through outreach and mentoring activities, networking and sharing sessions, forums and capacity-building programmes.
SELWN’s External Relations workstream looks at best practices at national and regional levels for a broader understanding and application of inclusion and diversity in Sarawak Energy’s workplace.
As part of this, the team brought together Petronas, Maybank, TNB and TalentCorp to share the successes and challenges of Flexible Work Arrangements at a SELWN Roundtable Sharing Session in September this year. It was part of the Women’s Empowerment Principles workshop by UN Women and UN Global Compact Office in November 2020.
In recognition of Sarawak Energy’s efforts, the company received a platinum award for the Empowerment of Women for SELWN at the 11th Annual Global CSR Summit and Awards 2019.