Getting the girls on top
In Hong Kong, some say there's 'a lack of women at the top'. Stafania Lucchetti agrees - but she goes a step further and suggests what girls can do about it in her new book, Women Breaking Through Leadership. The lawyer, author, speaker and entrepreneur cites that 90 percent of the board seats in businesses in the city are filled by men despite the fact that women make up more than half of the labour force. In the book - which is launched on March 8 - Lucchetti, along with co-author Anna Bisazza, interview women in leadership positions to find out what other ambitious girls can do to buck the trend. This is what Lucchetti tells us…
Women Breaking Through Leadership. What's it about?
Over half of university students and those in junior and mid-level employees in top paid professions are women. Then the numbers suddenly drop! The glass ceiling suddenly appears.
Women Breaking Through Leadership tells stories of remarkable women in leadership positions in the Southeast Asia region and their views on which are the best personal and corporate practices that promote women's leadership. It also offers a new theory - women who have threaded the path of leadership have a strong personality and solid support systems, but most of all have found ways to successfully integrate all aspects of their lives.
Is the book tailored to Hong Kong or is there a wider scope?
The interviewees in the book are mostly women who work in Hong Kong, with a few exceptions, but the topic has an international scope. The issue is important because I believe that by advancing women's influence, a new opportunity will be created for a shift in the world's decision-making systems.
What made you write the book?
When I was 34 years old, I hit my own career road bump. I was a highly skilled professional with an outstanding career path and at the same time I was enjoying good publishing success with my books. At some point, however, my career as a lawyer, in the particular organisation where I was then working, stalled. It happened more or less at a common time for many women, when I decided to get married and then have a baby. The intense pressure I experienced then in trying to be good at everything, together with the downturn of the global economy which slowed down internal career prospects, prompted me to leave my job.
As time passed, however, I realised that - as much as I was happy with my entrepreneurial choice - I was also not at complete peace with the way things had evolved for me at that particular point in time. Around that time, I happened to have a number of casual conversations with other women in positions of similar seniority, all of them lamenting the same problems: the enormous difficulty to reconcile rigid working hours with family commitments - most of them having very young children or being in the process of forming a family.
All of a sudden, it hit me like lightning. Was this the infamous glass ceiling that all of us were experiencing? Once this realisation hit me, I felt compelled to do what comes natural to me: I am a learning geek with a passion for knowledge and challenge, and therefore I started researching the issue. This book is a result of that journey and of that vision.
Who are you most inspired by?
I do not have a single role model. I am inspired by people who are aware of others and themselves, who keep improving themselves as well as contributing to others' wellbeing and who are not afraid to step out of their comfort zone to learn and grow.
The book launch handily marks International Women's Day. Is this an important event for you?
I used to think that it was somewhat ridiculous to celebrate IWD, just like Valentine's Day and other similar occasions. But then I realised that if you go down that path, Christmas falls, and then birthdays, and then weddings and then… anything that creates joy out of the human experience. So over time I changed my mind and came to think that celebrations are a way to turn our head away from the mundane hustle and bustle and focus on what is special in our lives, so that we can be inspired to live a more full, better life for ourselves and others. International Women's Day is just this: a reminder of the special efforts that women make every day in their roles as professionals, mothers and contributors to the community.
Lucchetti will launch the book at Metrobooks, 2001 Elements mall in Kowloon, on Thursday March 8 between 6.30pm and 8pm.