Fostering Diversity: Insights from Citi’s Shally Koh on Building an Inclusive Banking Organization

Promoting Gender Equality: The Bank’s Initiatives in Male Allyship and Mother Support Programs

Shally Koh has been a part of Citibank’s journey since its inception of commercial bank operations in Singapore back in 2000.

Now serving as the Head of Mid-Corporates and Technology and Digital client segment for CCB in Singapore, Koh aims not only to expand Citi’s market share in commercial banking but also to advocate for greater diversity and support for women in the banking sector.

“Diversity has been shown to enhance financial performance by fostering innovation, better risk assessment, and increased resilience,” Koh emphasized, highlighting the correlation between diverse teams and improved business outcomes.

“Without adequate female representation at the top, companies risk missing out on these advantages. Concrete measures are needed to ensure the hiring, retention, and advancement of women across all levels of the organization.”

As the co-chair of the Citi Women Singapore Network (CWS), Koh acknowledges that the banking industry still grapples with gender imbalance, particularly in senior leadership roles. She advocates for ongoing efforts to achieve gender parity within the sector.

For Shally Koh, her involvement in the Citi Women Singapore Network (CWS) holds both professional significance and personal resonance. As a seasoned banker within the organization and a mother to three daughters, Koh sees advocating for gender equity and inclusion as a mission close to her heart.

“As a mother of three grown-up daughters, promoting gender equity and inclusion in the workplace takes on even greater meaning as I want to further gender equality and build a more equitable environment for my daughters,” she shared.

Recognizing that promoting diversity and gender equality requires the engagement of both women and men in the industry, Citi launched the #IAmMaleAlly program.

This initiative aims to foster male allyship in the workplace, encouraging men to actively support and champion gender equality efforts. To date, the program has conducted 30 workshops, with approximately 500 male employees across China, India, Singapore, and Hong Kong pledging to be Male Allies.

In an interview with Asian Banking & Finance, Koh sheds light on her career journey in banking and discusses Citi’s initiatives to support women pursuing careers in the finance industry.

Navigating a Career in Banking: Insights from Shally Koh

“I’m currently serving as the Head of Mid-Corporates and Technology and Digital client segment for Citi Commercial Bank in Singapore.

In this role, I oversee the provision of global banking solutions to mid-sized clients and manage a dedicated team.

Additionally, I co-chair the women’s network at Citi in Singapore, where our aim is to promote gender equity and inclusion within the organization.

My journey in the banking industry began when I joined Citi’s pioneering team during the establishment of its commercial bank in Singapore back in 2000.

Prior to joining Citi, I gained experience as a credit analyst and also worked in retail banking roles at a couple of local banks.

Throughout my career, I’ve predominantly focused on commercial banking, leveraging my expertise to serve our clients and drive business growth.”

Empowering Women: Shally Koh’s Role with Citi Women Singapore

“As co-chair of the Citi Women Singapore (CWS) network, I play a pivotal role in fostering an inclusive environment and supporting the career development of female employees within Citi.

CWS serves as a platform for women to share experiences, address challenges, and access valuable insights relevant to their professional journeys within the bank.

In this capacity, I collaborate with a dedicated team of colleagues who volunteer their time to provide mentorship, career guidance, and organize various events and networking opportunities.

Our goal is to create a supportive community where women can thrive and excel in their careers.

Furthermore, we recognize that promoting diversity and inclusion is a collective effort.

Therefore, CWS welcomes participation from all employees, including male colleagues who are encouraged to join our Male Allyship program.

Through this initiative, male allies gain insights into the unique challenges women face in the workplace and advocate for gender equality and inclusion within Citi.”

Broadening Perspectives: Shally Koh’s Journey in Citi

“In my tenure at Citi, I’ve embraced three fundamental principles that have shaped my leadership approach: continuous learning and humility, taking accountability to prevent repeated mistakes, and prioritizing personal well-being for rejuvenation.

As a leader within Citi, I’ve been afforded the opportunity to witness the dynamic evolution of both the banking and technology sectors.

What excites me most is the rapid pace of technological advancement and its profound impact on our daily lives. From the mainstream adoption of cloud technologies to the proliferation of artificial intelligence, these innovations are reshaping industries and redefining consumer expectations.

In particular, the emergence of FinTech is revolutionizing the financial landscape, presenting both challenges and opportunities for traditional banks.

At Citi, we’ve established specialized teams to cater to tech-enabled corporates and digital natives, enabling us to understand their unique needs and collaborate effectively.

This proactive approach allows us to support our clients in navigating the ever-changing digital landscape and achieving their strategic objectives.”

Advancing Women in Banking: Citi’s Commitment to Gender Equality

Citi is at the forefront of initiatives aimed at enhancing the workplace environment and promoting gender equality within the banking sector.

Recognizing the importance of pay equity, Citi led the industry by disclosing the results of its pay equity review in 2018, becoming one of the first companies to reveal unadjusted pay gaps for women and U.S. minorities.

Setting ambitious diversity representation goals, Citi aims for 43.5% women representation by 2025, building upon its success in exceeding previous targets and increasing female representation across various leadership levels.

To bolster diversity at all levels, Citi expanded its diverse candidate slate standard to include Assistant Vice President, Vice President, and Senior Vice President roles, fostering a more inclusive recruitment process.

Furthermore, Citi invests in career development through mentorship programs, networking opportunities, rotational programs, and strategic partnerships, nurturing a pipeline of diverse talent.

In Asia, Citi boasts 17 women network chapters and 22 other inclusion networks, including nine Pride chapters, collectively comprising over 6,600 members.

Specific initiatives like the Maternity Flex Policy in India empower women to maintain work-life balance by offering the option to work from home for up to 12 months after returning from maternity leave.

Moreover, Citi’s Asia-wide Maternity Matters program provides valuable support to expecting and new mothers, benefiting over 1,000 women employees through educational sessions and resources.

Greg Swanson
Greg Swanson
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