‘Women, Teach People How You Want to be Treated’- Leesa Kow

    JN Group

    Photo Caption (from left): Natalie Haynes, deputy governor at Bank of Jamaica, Jerome Griffiths, chair of Jamaica Institute of Financial Services (JIFS) and Leesa Kow, managing director at JN Bank and chair of the Caribbean Association of Banks, share some lens time before the start of the fifth annual JIFS Women in Finance Breakfast Forum, which was held at The Jamaica Pegasus on February 29. Ms Kow and Ms Haynes were panellists at the event which was held in collaboration with the Jamaica Bankers Association under the theme, “Inspiring Inclusion, Create Equitable Work Environments”.

    Agreeing that women should be given the opportunity to showcase their professional talents and given a seat at the table, Leesa Kow, chairperson of the Caribbean Association of Banks and managing director at JN Bank, says women should teach others how they want to be treated and know how to communicate when they are not being given a chance to participate or to be heard.

    She was one of six panellists at the fifth annual Jamaica Institute of Financial Services (JIFS) Women in Finance Breakfast Forum, in collaboration with the Jamaica Bankers Association. The event was held under the theme, “Inspiring Inclusion: Create Equitable Work Environments”, at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in St Andrew on February 29.

    “It’s important for us to recognise that the world isn’t perfect, and so as much as we strive for equality, there will always be [moments] where we find ourselves in these uncomfortable situations, and when you find yourself in those situations, a part of preparing yourself to be at the table is knowing how to communicate and knowing how to teach people how to treat you,” she said.

    “Teach people how you want to be treated,” she encouraged her fellow female panellists and women in the audience.

    She continued: “I think oftentimes when we try to cross the hurdles [towards] equality and when we try to achieve inclusion, we have to resist the urge to take a stance that is very extremist. I think it’s very important to be discerning as to which ‘shade’ we bring to each situation.”

    Miss Kow, who, at one point, was one of only two female executives at The Jamaica National Group in the past, also said that it is important for women to ensure that they know who they are and to be conscious that any negative circumstances that they may find themselves in does not define them.

    “I think how we prepare ourselves to maintain our integrity and always bring our best selves to the table has everything to do with how we deal with situations like that. And I believe it’s ok to serve our colleagues, but if you feel that the reason you are being asked is not because of your kindness or willingness to serve, but [instead] it’s because you are defined as being placed in a box where you are doing the notetaking and the coffee serving, put on the best big smile and have the courage to share openly that, ‘I am actually here to partake in the conversation,’” which the audience commended with applause.

    She continued that, as humans she believes people were created to be in relationships, and the people with whom they engender relationships play a pivotal role in their journeys.

    “And in engendering relationships in the workplace and the professional environment, we need to bring as much intentionality and value as we seek to do in our romantic and family relationships… At the end of the day, [we are all] people. Regardless of gender, we are all humans, and so I think we have to be discerning about the people we want to be in relationships with and what we are bringing to that relationship for it to be successful,” she stated.

    She advised women to take the time out to understand the people they work with- their customers, leaders, stakeholders and regulators- because that is how they will build relationships.

    Other panellists included Edmundo Jenez, CEO of JETS Limited; Ossey Farr, Financial Analyst at Proven Group; Tiffany-Joy Smith, Financial Analyst at VM Group; Natalie Haynes, deputy governor at the Bank of Jamaica and Ramon Small-Ferguson, president of Jamaica Securities Dealers Association and chief executive officer at Barita.

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