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Female Taiwanese business leader highlights importance of empathy

Taiwan Women On Boards Association chair talks female leadership in business

Taiwan Women On Boards Association Chair Jaclyn Tsai. (Business Today photo)

Taiwan Women On Boards Association Chair Jaclyn Tsai. (Business Today photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan Women On Boards Association (WOB) Chair Jaclyn Tsai (蔡玉玲) highlighted women’s empathy advantage in corporate governance during an interview with Business Today.

According to Tsai, men prefer to manage “issues,” while women prefer to manage “people.” While women are generally stereotyped as being more “emotional,” their emotions are in fact reactions to people, she said.

“In other words, (a woman) is better at empathizing with what others feel,” added Tsai. “Meanwhile, much of leadership is about managing people.”

Tsai told Business Today that empathy is especially important in business leadership during the pandemic. “In an era of uncertainty, it becomes even more important to manage people well. This allows feminine qualities to shine through.”

She cited the “White Paper on Female Governance” published in 2021, which studied public companies’ performance the previous year. Of these companies, 37.2% that saw revenue growth and 56.6% that saw increased earnings per share were led by women, suggesting that female-led businesses remained steady financially even as the pandemic hit.

In terms of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) principles, a female leader tends not to treat problems as simply “company issues,” said Tsai.

“What she cares about more is the next generation. This is an issue relating to earth; if I bring a child into the world, I want the environment to be good. So, as soon as she is convinced ESG can help protect herself, her family, and the next generation, she executes it thoroughly.”

Tsai added that female leaders also approach ESG from a people-centric perspective. As an example, she used Chenbro Micom Co. Chair Chen Mei-chi (陳美琪), who asked for the company’s Chiayi factory to be built with high ceilings because “it is hot in Chiayi.”

Chen was able to achieve the goal of saving energy because higher ceilings facilitate convection and help cool down buildings. However, she addressed the issue by asking “what people feel” rather than “how much the company can save,” according to Tsai.

Ann Shen (沈碧琴), a tax services partner of Ernst & Young Taiwan, who co-authored the white paper, said businesses led jointly by men and women benefit from the “chemistry” created by mixing and matching masculine and feminine qualities. “As men and women tend to show different qualities and think differently, policies made through detailed discussions and joint management are better for the organization.”