Balaka Niyazee has a long standing career at Procter & Gamble which started in 1999 in Sales in India. She has diverse experiences working across businesses in APAC, Greater China, India and Ireland. She has lived and worked in 4 countries and done many leadership roles including Sales Director for Korea and most recently Sales Leader for Global SK-II. She has been a Change leader and led transformation of Business & Organization on several occasions. She is a passionate Organisation builder and groomed many leaders including top women talents. She has been recently announced to be the VP and GM for P&G Korea. She is also the Executive sponsor for P&G APAC’s Gender Equality Program #WeSeeEqual. We sat down with her ahead of #WFSingapore to bridge worlds for inclusive innovation!
- What does inclusive innovation mean to you?
The demand for a diversity-friendly culture and breakthrough innovation is expected to grow with the evolution of business model. But beyond these, more companies are pursuing inclusive innovation to drive and maximize team’s productivity and business results. Research also revealed that companies with inclusive cultures are six times more likely to be innovative and twice as likely to meet business targets. This is not new to P&G where we aspire to create a better world for everyone – a world free from gender bias with equal representation for men and women and where everyone sees equal. We are proud of our distinct inclusive culture and we proactively continue to review our policies to ensure that our talent is best equipped with the right tools and support systems to be their best and succeed.
For me inclusive innovation requires a few things:
- Be true to who you are while respecting cultural differences and others’ diverse point of view.
- Managers and business leaders to foster a culture of trust and transparency where not only women but everyone feels empowered. While doing so the leader should hold everyone accountable for delivering strong results.
- Ensure the right support systems are in place for women to make the right choices to accomplish their personal and professional aspirations (flexible work; parental leave; free-location roles).
- How is women’s leadership vital to create inclusive innovation?
I am glad that like P&G more and more companies are placing innovative initiatives to move gender equality forward. I truly believe women in leadership positions are vital to more inclusive innovation as women leaders deliver:
Improved results. Global researches have shown various economic reasons and one that stood out among the rest is that women in leadership roles evidently lead to better business performance.
Diversity of thinking. Having gender-diverse teams of executives lead to more diverse solutions to problems, solutions which are at the same more effective to solve the demands of diverse consumers.
Role modeling. Women in leadership roles drive aspiration amongst other more junior women feeding up the pipeline of female leaders of the future.
We need to celebrate and embrace the differences because women and men are inherently different. Women in their higher managerial roles compared with men enact different communication and leadership styles as women are likely to be culturally aware of social variables to influence business outcomes. At P&G, we want to get 50:50 representation at all levels and regions of our company and while there is no reason to get complacent and there is still a lot to do, we’re making great progress. In P&G APAC we have reached 50:50 at Manager level already.
- What do you expect from Women’s Forum Singapore?
Women in the workforce today have stronger influence and impact in societies. I am excited to be part of the Women’s Forum Singapore, which presents a timely opportunity to accelerate our progress in gender equality. We are pleased to become Global Strategic Members of the Women’s Forum and excited about the potential of the partnership to drive change.
Partnerships like this offer the right platform for key players from the private and public sectors to come together to discuss the most important issues and challenges preventing women to reach the leadership positions they deserve.
As a result, we get inspiration from each other on how these issues can be solved.
We disseminate these plans across our own organizations to drive real change from grass root level.