It’s no secret that women have been underrepresented in most sectors of the workplace for as long as the modern office environment has existed. Though women make up half the population and are responsible for some of history’s most innovative ideas, workplace equality has long been a goal unrealized. Thankfully, more than ever, that is changing. Women are increasingly holding more and more leadership positions and that influence is being felt from the top down in many organizations. One great example of this is Dabie Tsai, a former partner at KPMG, who not only exemplifies female leadership but has also worked consistently to help lift other women up. A look below at the work she does can help inform as to the larger sea change of women in the current work environment.
Though she recently moved on to explore new career options, Dabie Tsai spent twenty-three years in various roles at KPMG, making her mark on the international firm that focuses on tax, audit, and advisory services. Her time with the firm saw her gain numerous expertise including SEC filings, matters of corporate governance, and internal controls. She had various leading roles within the firm and served as a lead partner on multiple large global accounts.
One important aspect of her rise as a key part of the organization was her ability to work well in a wide range of demanding environments. Not only did she operate in multiple home offices during her time with the company, but she also transferred between multiple different international offices at the firm’s request to serve clients, speaking a range of languages to compliment her expertise. Some of these assignments had her leading large teams that numbered up to 250 people at a time and served some of the largest financial institutions in their countries of operation.
The path towards increased female leadership
One key component of encouraging female leadership in the workplace is through the standardization of the goal throughout a company. By emphasizing the focus on women in high-ranking roles, a company sends the message to its employees that this goal is actively being pursued. This type of emphasis can come from a variety of methods such as intra-office communication, company events, and official policies set by human resources.
Another key component of these types of efforts can be the implementation of mentoring programs by the company to identify women who may excel in leadership roles and provide them with additional training so that they can achieve that goal. “I am a huge believer in mentoring and sponsoring talent,” says Tsai. “As a leader, I firmly believe you always want to work yourself out of a job!” Not only do these types of efforts have the direct effect of promoting high-talent women into management and executive roles in the organization, but they also send the message to everyone at the company that this an area of focus for the entire team. This type of institutionalization of workplace equality and diversity can be a powerful engine for change when pursued to its fullest extent.
Examples of encouraging female leadership
Examining the work done by Dabie Tsai during her time at KPMG provides a great illustration of the types of efforts touched upon above. In her primary work as a partner and team leader, she was able to not only excel at her job responsibilities but also serve as a role model to many women in the company seeking the level of success she had obtained. A look at how her long history with the organization was filled with promotions and a constant trend toward larger responsibility showed the types of goals that could be attained through talent and hard work.
Beyond serving as a role model, Tsai also took a more direct role in working to ensure that women were increasingly represented in high-level positions. Toward this end, she participated in many groups and initiatives throughout the company that focused on the advancement of women. One of the key messages she worked to communicate in her time spent helping others was the power of teamwork. “To be successful in whatever you do, you need to be able to work well with others, whether harmoniously as a team, or tackling tough messages with a respectful attitude,” says Tsai. Her efforts towards promoting this message, as well as others, included serving as a partner champion of the firm’s Network of Women and also saw her become a member of the KPMG Executive Leadership Institute for Women.
Prioritization of equality
Ultimately one of the largest indicators of how much progress an organization makes towards equality amongst men and women is the level of awareness of the imbalance in the first place. When the fact that women are paid less and underrepresented in leadership roles is fully recognized, programs and initiatives that help to combat that issue often follow. However, in situations where this information is not full disseminated, the pursuit of equality can often stagnate. To be sure, awareness such as this rests on the ability of activists and other to get the message out, but it also hinges on the actions of those inside the company to effectively work from within the system. For this reason and more, the role of high-ranking women is critical when seeking to balance an organization that has become heavily skewed in one direction.
Though women have historically been underrepresented in many key roles in the workplace, there is a shift that has been occurring for decades that is gradually working to change this fact. As more and more women ascend to higher levels of responsibility and visibility, this shift will increasingly continue to occur. The efforts of women who have already shown their abilities in leadership, such as Dabie Tsai, are a critical part of this march towards equality. With their efforts, along with the efforts of untold more, this balance will eventually be struck.