As the world marks International Women’s Day (IWD), a celebration of the contribution women make, our editor Lauren Gow believes it is a perfect time to reflect on how balancing gender in risk management could be beneficial for all. 

I have previously written about the next generation of risk manager, or more specifically, my own Junior Risk Manager who demands everything to be safe before he dares step. Or so it was, I should say. The Junior Risk Manager recently started kindergarten with his best friend from preschool, a heavily-bespectacled girl called Holly. When I dropped him at school the other morning, I watched in horror and awe as he ran straight over to a cement wall in the playground, grabbed hands with Holly and jumped off it without a second thought. What happened to Captain Safety?

When I asked him later, he told me that Holly showed him that the wall wasn’t so high at all. In fact, it is “just 21 hands tall” and that if they hold hands, it is “only half as scary but twice as fun.” Whilst the factual accuracy leaves a little to be desired (they are five years old so maths is not their strong suit), the sentiment is spot-on.

The social media hashtag for IWD 2019 - #BalanceForBetter - is one that I think deserves applause for accuracy. Tipping the scales in favour of one gender or another does no favours for businesses, politics or government so perhaps it is time to focus more closely on what balance really means.

When the suffragettes began their fight for equality over 100 years ago, the scales were predominantly tipped in favour of men but this is no longer the case. In fact, in 2019, I believe it has tipped too far the other way in some cases. It is time we started focussing on balancing the scales to get the best possible outcome.

Women’s rights are often misconstrued as being about putting women in roles simply because of the chromosomal decision made at the time of conception. What we actually need to be discussing is the importance of balancing gender diversity of opinion and the positive effect this can have on businesses as a whole.

In risk management, assessing situations for the opportunities and threats means looking at future scenarios and situations objectively and, often subjectively, to determine the path a business should take. I believe both genders equally can assist in this because each has strengths and weaknesses for seeing what lies ahead.

We focus on choosing one or the other when it comes to gender but why not both? I wonder what would happen if a business elected to have dual Chief Risk Officers – one male and one female. When it came to decisions big and small, where would each party access the threats and opportunities to be? What if businesses, instead of focussing on getting one person to jump off the wall and see if it hurts to land, get both to hold hands and jump? Maybe, as the Junior Risk Manager assesses, things would only be half as scary but twice as fun. Or successful as we call it in the business world.

 

To hear the thoughts on gender diversity from some of Asia Pacific’s best and brightest risk managers, click here