Having seen many women over the course of her career unable to rise up the ranks due to various factors, Rina Sarif, Chief Human Capital Officer, Lembaga Tabung Haji, has taken a stand. In this exclusive, Aditi Sharma Kalra finds out how she launched THrivingWomen, a platform to create awareness around the reality of women in leadership - from cancer fighters to boardroom aspirants, all are welcome.
Q What was the idea and passion that gave birth to THrivingWomen?
In my career in human capital, I have observed many women do not dare to take up the challenge and rise up the ranks due to many factors. Women’s reality of work-life integration has proved to be multifaceted and involves juggling competing priorities. This requires women to find equilibrium between work, health and non-work roles. Or perhaps a balance or equilibrium does not exist! Understanding these hard-wired realities, this platform was created. It is to provide an enabled-system for women to better manage their work performance and personal matters, especially those who are challenged by critical health issues such as cancer, among others.
On another note, women representation in the boardroom especially in statutory bodies is still lacking. THrivingWomen (TW) aims to uplift as many women as possible to realise their potential and secure their seats at the decision making level and the boardrooms.
Moreover, leaders are only leaders if they elevate others. The idea of establishing a platform like TW is to create a ripple effect where more women can make more positive impact to the organisation and society.
Q How extensively were you as Tabung Haji's (TH's) HR leader involved in rolling out this initiative and how did you get buy-in from your peers?
As the Chief Human Capital of TH, capability building is part of the 'Reimagined Human Capital' agenda. Building women’s capability is a subset of the entire organisational capability building. TW was incepted from the Human Capital team and yes, I champion this initiative with strong support from my CEO and I work closely with three other powerful women, C-suites in TH, who are influencers in their respective fields.
My peers are supportive because it is part of TH’s development intervention in making sure that women can contribute effectively to organisational success.
Q Talk us through the launch - what are some of the highlights for you?
The launch was conducted in English and Arabic. I wanted the guests to experience the culture of Tabung Haji which is very closely associated with Islamic values and the Arabic language.
The launch was streamed live on YouTube and reached all women THrivers, from the remote branches right to the major cities, from our women cancer survivors who were in their hospital beds to those who were at home due to health issues. Some of our #ChooseToChallenge hashtags were in Arabic too and that excited the guests.
Q What are some challenges that you wish to help women leaders overcome to thrive in leadership roles?
There are endless challenges for women in order to thrive in leadership roles, especially having to wear many hats, right from the boardroom and the CEO, all the way to being a daughter, mother and wife. While challenges exist, that doesn’t mean they can’t be conquered. For your career, It’s about not taking your foot off the gas pedal. Instead, it's about always looking to see how and where you can add value to your organisation, and it also means leaning towards opportunities that may seem risky or uncomfortable at first, but offer great exposure and a chance to learn something new and challenging.
Challenges are everywhere, any time and all the time.
Q Are there other initiatives that are being taken at TH towards the 30% Club Malaysia and beyond?
TH being the first statutory body on board the 30% Club Malaysia, we enjoy many privileges from it. We have leveraged on many of their programmes and the latest was speed mentoring. Many more collaboration and leadership mentoring opportunities will take place or resume very soon. Our council members, who comprise the C-suites of TH, will also take the lead in mentoring high-potential women of TH.
Keep THriving! #THrivingtogether
Photos / Rina Sarif's LinkedIn