Justice goal achieved through board training

Director training program participant Fiona McDonald (centre), with Macquarie staff Tammy Chan (left) and Circle Hsu (right).

10 August 2016

More than 200 Macquarie Group staff currently sit on a diverse array of non-profit boards around the world, as a way of contributing to the community. But for people aspiring to give back in a similar way, it can be hard to know what’s required.

To equip interested staff in Asia to take a step in this direction, more than 18 Macquarie staff in Hong Kong and Singapore have participated in intensive director training over the past two years, a program run in collaboration with Credit Suisse, CLSA, Nomura and State Street.

The program provides participants with training in director responsibilities, liabilities and duties, skills in interpreting financial statements and developing leadership skills. At the end of the 3-month program participants are introduced to charities seeking board directors (charities are also able to access opportunities to upskill in areas such as governance, risk and reputation management and branding).

Macquarie staff member Fiona McDonald used the training to pursue her desire to become a director on the board of Hong Kong organisation, Justice Centre.

“I’d always wanted to be a member of the Justice Centre board as it’s a different level of commitment and contribution – it’s an opportunity to make change of lasting significance. I did the training with a view to making that happen,” she says.

Justice Centre works to advocate for and protect the rights of Hong Kong’s most vulnerable refugees, people seeking protection and survivors of torture, human trafficking and forced labour.

It campaigns for legislative and policy change, conducts research and collaborates with a range of other organisations as part of its advocacy work.

To support its clients day-to-day, it uses an innovative pro bono model which sees leading international law firms provide financial assistance and legal research and support.

McDonald is keen to make her own contribution to the Justice Centre and the people it supports by being an active director: “Many of the more than 11,000 refugees living here have been in limbo for years. I want to contribute to improving their situation.”

Within six months of completing the training, a position on the Justice Centre board became available. McDonald credits the knowledge she gained in the training as a turning point to achieving her goal of joining the board.

“They originally wanted someone with legal or accounting qualifications but my background is in communications. However, they saw the value in the experience and skills I could bring in crisis management and brand positioning so they offered me the position,” says McDonald.

The Justice Centre have also been heavily involved with the Macquarie Group Foundation’s long-term, regional project in Asia around preventing and responding to modern slavery, specifically on issues affecting migrant domestic workers.

The first phase of this project has resulted in the release of the research report Modern Slavery in East Asia: Protecting the rights and promoting the autonomy of domestic migrant workers from Indonesia and the Philippines. The Macquarie-funded research was conducted by Farsight and implemented by local partners in four countries, including the Justice Centre in Hong Kong.