Imagine a gender equal world. A world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination. A world that’s diverse, equitable, and inclusive. A world where difference is valued and celebrated. The campaign theme for International Women’s Day 2022 is #breakthebias, which calls for every one of us – women and men – to create more equitable workplaces for women by actively calling out gender bias, discrimination and stereotyping each time we see it.
In response, we asked seven top women leaders – from diverse industries and nationalities – to share their top actions to combat gender inequality at work and create a more level playing field for all women.
“I’ve had to become especially resilient being in Thailand’s construction industry, which is highly male-dominated with traditionally Asian notions of gender roles. Achieving gender equality is a personal and professional passion for me as a woman, mother of a daughter and a leader.
Instilling the right culture should be the first and foremost concern for all companies. Leaders must develop and enforce a zero-tolerance sexual harassment policy and companies should not tolerate any unprofessional or disrespectful conduct, with termination as a potential consequence. Companies show they are serious about creating a fair and inclusive atmosphere for all their stakeholders when they respond to sexual harassment complaints fairly and take a strong stance on inappropriate jokes or comments made at the expense of women in the workplace.
I’d also like to see more women support each other, especially in male-dominated industries where women are sometimes excluded or made to attend important work events held in venues that aren’t women-friendly. Women can be powerful allies at work and it’s clear that networking with women and supporting women is necessary for achieving gender equality in the workplace.”
Women can be powerful allies at work and it’s clear that networking with women and supporting women is necessary for achieving gender equality in the workplace.”
Louise Taechaubol, Chairwoman of Triton Holding Public Company Limited
“I see an urgent need for top-down and bottom-up change, starting with the equal representation of women in the boardroom and across the whole of the C-suite. While specific sectors have shown positive change, we will really only see biases broken for women when they are represented in at least half of the decision-making roles. From the private sector and public company board rooms, through to government, academia and charitable organisations, real change will only occur when women hold a wider share of voice at the top.
As a former CEO and current board member, I aim to not only champion the cause, but to seek out women candidates to fulfil these key roles across my teams and to pay it forward within my network.”
Real change will only occur when women hold a wider share of voice at the top.”
Amanda Mesler, Chair of Minna Technologies and YPO member
“I openly share the ‘real-life reel’ of my professional journey so that women leaders or aspiring leaders don’t expect only the rosy bits as they navigate their careers. I want them to know that growth is messy, stakeholders are messy, finding a balance can feel like a step backwards and forwards, but that’s OK.
I also make sure to ask “How can I help?” – a powerful question to which I never know what the answer will be. It’s important to support each other because I believe we are most resilient as a collective. Being part of a collective or strong team allows us to acknowledge that we all go through different seasons in life and don’t always have to function at 100%.”
It’s important to support each other because I believe we are most resilient as a collective.
Jaelle Ang, CEO and Co-Founder of The Great Room
“During the hiring process, we focus only on each candidate’s life and job experiences because these form their worldviews and abilities, which are critical to how well they’ll perform at work. While creating opportunities for women is important, we do not limit our recruitment to female candidates – men are welcome to join us.
At SCWO, we empower everyone – women and men alike – to step up and let their unique backgrounds and skills shine.”
While creating opportunities for women is important, we do not limit our recruitment to female candidates – men are welcome to join us.
Angel Chan, CEO of Singapore Council of Women’s Organisations (SCWO)
“At Blue Sky Escapes, we care very much about each team member having a voice, regardless of gender. Even a volunteer or intern joining for a short stint gets a seat at the table. Each individual is given the chance to lead and contribute during meetings, as we believe everyone has a part to play in driving innovation and steering the direction of the brand. For example, it’s not uncommon in any one of our discussions for someone to go ‘What about you, Sarah – what do you think? We’d love to hear your thoughts.”
We care very much about each team member having a voice, regardless of gender.
Krystal Tan, Founder of Blue Sky Escapes
“At YTL Group (YTL Hotels’ parent), 30% of our leadership roles are women-led and equal opportunities are provided to all staff. We’ve found that a women’s network is a very meaningful way to provide leadership support and growth to our female cohort, as well as enrich their careers. For example, one of our key initiatives is the W@Y or “Women at YTL” initiative, which organises regular sharing sessions by leaders and subject matter experts (both internal and external).
These cover diverse topics such as managing different roles at home and at work, how to create your own happiness and nurturing mental health. Each session both uplifts and creates opportunities for participants to learn from and network with other women leaders. It’s clear these sessions are important to our staff, who continued to participate in them enthusiastically and contributed to robust discussions even when lockdowns shifted sessions online.”
We’ve found that a women’s network is a very meaningful way to provide leadership support and growth to our female cohort, as well as enrich their careers.
Geraldine Dreiser, Vice President of Marketing at YTL Hotels
“My top action for breaking the bias at work is to create flexibility for new mothers in the workplace. This could involve companies being understanding if employees are undergoing IVF, actively supporting single mothers or offering support to all parents, such as allowing them to work from home either permanently or through key transition periods in their lives.”
My top action for how I #BreaktheBias at work is to create flexibility for new mothers in the workplace.
Michelle Avis, Head of Aspire Lifestyles, Australia & New Zealand
Discover our full selection of the best International Women’s Day 2022 experiences here, and search #IWDDayAway for a month of our exclusive IWD content.