Ron Lee, Head of Private Wealth Management Asia Pacific at Goldman Sachs and Chairman of the Board of Directors at Mother’s Choice, a Hong Kong charity, shares with WiFA his motivation to be a male ally, his experience being a mentor, advice he would provide male colleagues to become an ally, and much more.
Tell us about yourself.
I joined Goldman Sachs more than 20 years ago and having worked across different businesses at the firm, I now head up the firm’s private wealth management business in Asia Pacific. I am also a member of the Asia Pacific Inclusion and Diversity Committee. The committee advances the firm’s diversity and inclusion agenda in the region by ensuring senior engagement and accountability, and putting in place practices to further our culture of inclusion and increase diversity across all levels.
I am a father of two sons and a daughter and an avid reader, runner, and golfer.
What motivates you to be an ally in the financial services industry?
Throughout my career which has taken me to New York, Tokyo, Singapore and Hong Kong, I have come to recognize the importance of a workplace environment that values diversity. It makes people from different backgrounds feel comfortable bringing their full selves to work, and encourages the sharing of different perspectives and experiences. I want to foster an inclusive work environment by advocating for others and encouraging people to do the same.
I am also inspired by the three most important women in my life, namely my mother, wife, and daughter. I often find myself trying to view the work we do through their eyes. I ask myself questions like: “Would my wife approve of the steps we’re taking at Goldman to be more inclusive?” and “Is the environment at Goldman where I would have my daughter work?”
Please provide an example of how being an ally helped to unlock the power of diversity within your team or your organization?
Allyship starts with small actions that collectively can make a big impact. Senior allies can lead from the top by setting examples for others and ensuring accountability for embedding diversity and inclusion in the way a firm does business.
Earlier this year, as part of the work of the Asia Pacific Inclusion and Diversity Committee at Goldman Sachs, we encouraged dialogues among colleagues to discuss best practices on allyship and share their experiences. The discussions covered the concept of micro-aggression and included examples of what could be overlooked as harmless behavior that may negatively affect the people we interact with. The feedback we received from colleagues indicated that the discussions made them more aware of the importance of embracing diversity in the workplace.
Mentors play an important role in the development of the careers of women. Have you or are you mentoring a woman in finance? Please tell us about your experience.
I mentor a number of individuals at the firm and while mentorship is important, I think sponsorship is critical in helping people advance in their careers. I have been a sponsor for many women colleagues at the firm, either through formal initiatives or more informally. Being in a leadership position within the firm means that I have the social capital to influence and speak up on behalf of the people I sponsor, ensuring they are given the tools and opportunities needed to grow and succeed in their careers. Sponsorship can be impactful as long as there is trust, commitment, and communication between the sponsor and the protégé.
What advice or guidance would you provide men so they can become an ally? What can they do better to support their female colleagues professionally?
Wanting to be an ally is a good enough first step. Take the time to listen and learn about issues related to gender inequality, connect with female colleagues to understand their point of view and go from there. For those in leadership positions, I would encourage them to leverage their power and privilege to become active agents of change for women colleagues.