Meet Stephen Callander – CFO, Treasurer, Alternate Chief Executive of HK at Barclays

Stephen Callander, CFO, Treasurer, Alternate Chief Executive of HK, Barclays

Our interview with Stephen:

Can you introduce yourself in a couple of sentences?

(i) I am a happy husband and a father blessed of 3 children who works for an organization that supports balance in work/life requirements and makes me feel proud to be associated with – Barclays (ii) I enjoy trail running, drinking wine and travelling; though the growing family has made the experience more expensive and requiring of a lot more organization.

When did you first get involved in gender equity and why?

Maybe about 9/10 years ago. Initially I was nominated as a functional lead on a committee I think because I was a data guy, or maybe someone concluded I was the guy most in need of reconstruction! I sort of fell in to it rather than going out and seeking it.

How are you currently involved in gender equity initiatives through your company / position?

At many levels. I am the finance lead for diversity in AP, I am the Treasurer for the regional WIN network, I am a member of the TWF male allies in HK, I am a mentor for women in our WIN mentoring programme.

What about women empowerment?

I don’t think of it in terms of female empowerment, perhaps because I am a man and don’t know what it is to not be empowered, I think in terms of gender equality. If we as a society decide an option or an opportunity is valid then it should be valid for all regardless of gender or any other form of segregation. On the domestic front there certainly doesn’t seem to be any problem with female empowerment in our household.

And what about men?

Men are amazing, they are the second most successful gender of the human tribe.

We cannot talk about advancing women’s and girls’ empowerment without including men in the conversation. As 71% of management positions are held by men in the city, and six in seven Hang Seng Index company directors are men, we will not make significant progress if we do not engage men as supporters and drivers of change.

What are you doing to inspire young, high-potential talent?

We utilize a mix of initiatives from WIN organized mentoring to ex-officio membership of boards and meetings, interview panels that insist of female candidates and interviewers (both for internal and external candidates). Encourage integration and participation in to networks ie WIN. Favourable primary care giver [open to men also!] leave provision of 22 weeks, and 6 weeks for non primary care giver, to support family planning. Use of ex-officio positions to enable early exposure to decision making and governance bodies.

What is your opinion on gender equity in HK?

I don’t have first hand experience or knowledge of industries outside of Banking so my point of reference is all anecdotal and what I have picked up talking to people at events such as this but gender stereotypes appear to place an additional burden upon female employees and the statistics suggest that this plays out in terms of lower participation rates and lower earning power in the workplace.

What are some key challenges you are facing (or in general)?

The pipeline is too leaky; sometimes 2 steps forward and 1 step backwards, sometimes 2 steps forward and 3 steps backward.

Perversely women sometimes have more choices than men, given the husband is working, and we are seeing more women taking time out or embracing more risk and more change as they have a dual income to fall back on whereas some men are sole bread winners and hence risk averse. Result is female talent pool is more fluid and male talent pool more sticky.

The market place wants female talent so often the best and most highly invested in are poached away.

What changes outside the workforce would you like to see in HK, which could positively impact female?

The pressure from the schooling system is just too intense. Women are taking holidays to coach and support their children, this is stressful and hence the whole raison d’être for the holiday is missed.

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