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Women in Green Buildings – paving the way for the rise of female leadership

Pamela Phua – General Director for Vietnam, Decorative Paints South East and South Asia, AkzoNobel – writes a thought leadership article inspired by her representation as a jury member of the 2020 Asia Pacific Leadership in Green Building Awards, which presents a ‘Women in Green Building Leadership Award’. Pamela reflects on how companies like AkzoNobel support women in the green building movement.

Women in Green Buildings leadership award – what does it represent?

Women in Green Building Leadership Award is a new award category, designed to recognise inspiring female leaders in the movement. In a traditionally male-dominated industry, the establishment of such an award category is definitely a significant step made to encourage women and diversity in leadership while recognising the increasingly important role they have to play. To be part of the judging panel, is hence, a great honour and privilege as I can be given the chance to help encourage the rise of strong female leadership.

Female leadership and challenges

I believe the most important role of a woman leader is to be a good role model for all her coworkers, not just the women, but the men as well, to break their own little glass ceilings, and to inspire others to achieve their fullest potential. Female leaders can bring onboard different approaches to problem-solving and foster collaborative interactions in a more diverse environment.

Unfortunately, unconscious bias, not just in men but in women as well, remains one of the strongest influences driving a lack of gender equality, and likely the most significant barrier to getting more women into C-suite roles. However, there is an “awakening” where people, societies and governments have begun to realise the importance of removing these biases and this is a great time for women to step up. Now more than ever, opportunities are plentiful for women to come forward and make a difference. Today, more women have risen to assume corporate leadership positions and it is a positive trend that I hope will continue to gain traction

Diversity and inclusion in AkzoNobel

AkzoNobel’s commitment to diversity and inclusion is part of our broader “People. Planet. Paint.” ambitions. We continuously review and engage different ways in how we can successfully empower diversity and female leadership. In 2019, for example, a mandatory training programme for all employees was launched, with the focus on respecting people, diversity and unconscious bias. It includes topics such as micro-aggression, discrimination and harassment. Following August’s focus on cultural diversity, the focus for this month, for instance, would be strengthening senior female leadership in terms of the support and resources that can be provided to enable success.

The future is now for Green Buildings

The development of Smart Cities and increased governmental support has pushed for more stakeholders across the value-chain; from manufacturers, developers to architects, to become much more aware and receptive towards acknowledging the importance of Green Buildings for urban cities. Nevertheless, much more can still be done to push consumer markets on the downstream end to be more eco-conscious.

Over the past 20 years, AkzoNobel, as part of our sustainability commitment, have developed numerous new and exciting products and innovations that are both successful commercially, environmentally friendly and sustainable. Some examples include the popular Dulux Weathershield, Powerflexx and Easyclean which are high-performance products using environmentally preferred ingredients. Dulux Weathershield range of exterior paints, in particular, is formulated with our revolutionary KeepCool technology that keeps interior temperatures up to 5°C cooler by deflecting up to 85% more UV rays than other conventional exterior paints.

The challenges of urbanisation and climate change are driving a global transformation of green buildings to include new innovative, sophisticated and highly efficient building techniques, processes, materials and products. Looking ahead, we believe that the future of the industry will favour innovations in building materials, such as paints and coatings, that will be highly focused on contributing to safer, ‘greener’ and more sustainable functionalities, something that AkzoNobel is highly invested in and committed towards.

Stay true to your beliefs and goals

I hope that my passion and beliefs will inspire young people in Vietnam and around the world to enjoy and remain steadfast in their commitments and pursuits. Dare to be creative, fearless and push the boundaries of innovations for a sustainable future for all. That, to me, is truly what leadership is all about.