An Evening of Empowerment for Collective Change

Feb 11 2020. view 73

Gender equality is not just a woman’s issue, as whole workplaces, communities and economies lose out from gender bias. A balanced world is a better world. Imagine how boring the world would be if we all thought the same! Instead, difference and diversity can breed excitement, equality and innovation. This year, Ladies VIP Night has invited an all men panel of decision makers from diverse industries to join a discussion for “Hard Talk” as they believe change is only possible if it is a collective effort.


Ajay Amalean
Co-founder, MAS Holdings

“Over the past few decades we have seen great changes taking place in terms of gender equality and women’s empowerment, but as we prepare to celebrate International Women’s Day in 2020, much more needs to be done, and can be done with the right intentions and right collaborations. More corporates such as MAS have made empowerment an exemplary and integral part of their operational DNA; we have enabled and encouraged women – who make up over 70% of our 99,000 global workforce – to pursue their dreams supported by equal access to opportunity, education, healthcare and financial freedom. This Women’s Day, let us celebrate the greatness women have achieved thus far, and power our march forward, fully committed to the cause.”


Timothy Wright
Vice President and General Manager, Shangri-La Hotel Colombo

“We are delighted to partner with this event. From the inception, Shangri-La Hotel, Colombo has endeavoured to improve gender balance in our workplace. We have understood the need to challenge stereotypes in Sri Lanka and support women in the delicate balancing act between work and family roles. In the ever-evolving landscape of tourism, women’s achievements are key for the industry to thrive.”


Nikhil Advani
CEO of AIA Insurance Lanka 

“We are immensely proud of this recognition, which is testament to our commitment to creating an inclusive and productive workplace for women. We understand that gender parity is central in having a dynamic balanced workforce and our female staff play an integral part in our business success. Although insurance is perceived as a male dominated industry, we see that our female Wealth Planners contribute immensely to our business success. Almost 45% of our Wealth Planners are female and out of AIA’s MDRT membership, 46% of them are female. MDRT membership, by the way, is recognized internationally as the standard of excellence in the life insurance and financial services business. So, it speaks volumes of the professional contribution made by our female agents in taking AIA to where we are today. Further, we wholeheartedly believe that caring for oneself and one’s family helps us be our best at work. That is why we were the first EFC (Employers’ Federation of Ceylon) member to implement a comprehensive maternity benefit scheme for female employees, in the country. We offer a host of maternal benefits, including benefits for mothers who need special treatment and attention prior or post childbirth, as well as mothers who are adopting children.  As a result of our continuous focus to build a sense of trust, hopefulness, inclusiveness and pride in our people, we have retained many of our employees, especially our female workforce and have increased the female employee population to almost 40%, including making up for 25% of our Executive Committee.”


Mano Sekaram
CEO, 99x Technology  

“Being an equal and diverse company in any industry is good for business. At 99X Technology, we create opportunities for everyone and it is so heartening to see our people stepping to the forefront. In fact, 50% of our technician /QA leads are women and have played a vital role in driving customer success and financial growth. In 2018, the percentage of females in the Lankan IT industry stood at 34% and I am positive that through the proactive efforts of corporates to improve employee diversity that this figure will only continue to rise in time to come.”


Janek Jayasekara 
COO, Akbar Brothers Group

Janek Jayasekara, a senior management professional with 20+ years of experience having worked in Diversified Conglomerates and International Banks, recently took on the role as Group Chief Operating Officer for Akbar Brothers Group, recognised globally as the leading Ceylon tea exporter while also operating in the renewable energy, hotels, healthcare and agriculture sectors. He adds “Equality is not a concept, it’s a necessity and when women are empowered, they immeasurably improve the lives of everyone around them - their families, their communities, and their countries. The Group's strategic initiatives include building leadership for a sustainable performance culture while strengthening the diversity and inclusive framework, which continues to be
a key driver in our roadmap.


Savithri Rodrigo

“It is imperative that both men and women understand that gender parity is a collective action, gaining the ownership of everyone.  As women, the responsibility lies with us to ensure that this basic human right becomes reality across nations, communities and individuals.  We must celebrate our diversity, revel in each other’s achievements, uplift each other and most of all unite for an enabled world.”




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