Learning & Development Asia 2024
#ChooseToChallenge: 6 leaders share how they are challenging existing gender stereotypes

#ChooseToChallenge: 6 leaders share how they are challenging existing gender stereotypes

In line with International Women’s Day 2021, the team at Human Resources Online has put together a series of 22 stories under two distinct concepts with the overarching theme of #ChooseToChallenge to inspire organisations and leaders to push for a gender-equal society, by showcasing what their peers are doing in this area.

This second part of our series focuses on the second concept - our individual thoughts and action. 

We believe that as individuals, we are all responsible for our own thoughts and actions – at work and at home. As people leaders at work and role models at home, the impacts of our actions are amplified through our influence on others. 

From challenge comes change. Individually, we can choose to challenge and call out gender bias and inequity. Collectively, we can all help create an inclusive world. So, how are leaders choosing to challenge?

We've asked more than 60 leaders (women and men - because we believe men play a part too) "What is one action you are taking at work, and at home, to challenge the existing gender stereotypes?"

In this part of our series, leaders from Citi, Henkel Malaysia, Lenovo Singapore, MSD, Procter & Gamble, and Singapore Sports Hub, share the actions they are taking against gender stereotypes.

Munir Nanji, Head of Global Subsidiaries Group Asia Pacific Banking, Citi

It is a fact that women today still face measurable disadvantages, making it harder for them to get ahead in the workplace. While men are generally empathetic, not many are turning their empathy into action, which is why I am very proud of Citi’s male allyship programme.

As advocates, we see ourselves as agents of change with a mission to cultivate a workplace culture that inspires diversity and inclusion.

Being the Co-Chair of the Citi Women Singapore Network has made me much more aware of the types of unconscious gender bias that exist, even at home.

I am a much better role model for my children today and a better husband to my wife. And in turn, they have taught me to lean in at work and counter some of the age-old stereotypes and discrimination that still exist.

Teoh Tsu-Shien, President of Henkel Malaysia

At Henkel Malaysia, I would encourage all our colleagues, men and women, to be fully engaged as fellow team collaborators.

Inclusion is about engagement, mutual understanding, and acceptance. Embracing this mindset will enable us to overcome our own unconscious biasness.

It is important that we celebrate our differences and encourage diversity in our teams, and it all starts with each person making an effort.

Ronnie Lee, General Manager of Lenovo Singapore

At Lenovo, women make up 36% of our employees. Despite this being higher than the tech industry standard of 25%, we can, and must, do better.

Since 2019, Lenovo has implemented the Asia Pacific chapter of Women in Lenovo Leadership (WILL) programme that gathers female leaders together to discuss how Lenovo can take bold and decisive steps towards ensuring that women’s voices are heard around the world.

New ideas are generated on how diversity and inclusion can be advanced further. Through sparking intelligent and purposeful innovations together, our female leaders not only create solutions to advance the company but also play a part in challenging the existing gender stereotypes in the technology marketplace.

Dorthe Mikkelsen, President, Asia Pacific, MSD

Women in leadership positions can enhance organisational performance in measurable, quantifiable ways. In a study tracking 200 of the world’s 500 largest companies over 19 years, the 25 companies with the best record of promoting women to executive positions were 34% more profitable than the median companies.

As MSD’s first female President in the Asia Pacific Region, it inspires me to ensure that each one of us – both in our company, and beyond – has an environment that is enriched with empowerment, belonging, empathy, and psychological safety; where we feel valued and respected; and where we can bring our whole and authentic selves to work every day, in all the roles that we play in our lives, so we can be inspired to be the best that we can be.

Balaka Niyazee, Senior Vice President, Korea and Executive Sponsor – Equality & Inclusion, Asia Pacific, Middle-East and Africa, Procter & Gamble

In the workplace, there are gender stereotypes driven by unconscious biases. Personally, I have been deliberate in calling out biases when and where I see them in conversations, decisions and people assessments.

One concrete way we have been able to spark this conversation is through a workshop called MARC (Men advocating real change) in which Men and Women discover the privileges and unconscious biases they have.

I am pleased that many leaders including Male Leaders have now started championing to challenge gender stereotypes.

I believe workplace equality begins at home and both partners have a role to play.

The most important action I and my partner take at home is to be a role model for our daughter, so that she can see us do roles at home which are gender agnostic.

We share many parenting and household responsibilities, allowing her to start questioning gender stereotypes when she encounters them outside home. Partners sharing responsibilities at home is one of the biggest enablers for women to achieve their dream. Sharing the load starts with Sharing the dream.

Wendy Tan, Assistant General Manager, Marketing and Commercial, Singapore Sports Hub

Challenging existing stereotypes means tearing down barriers while building people up and helping them succeed.

Throughout my career, I have been privileged to work with great mentors - male and female - who recognised my passion and nurtured my capabilities.

They inspire me to lift others up in the same way. Whether it is creating gender-neutral opportunities at work or equipping my son and daughter with the same critical thinking mindset, my focus is always on empowering people, encouraging them to strive for greater growth, regardless of gender. 

Photo / Provided [ First row, L-R: Munir Nanji, Teoh Tsu-Shien, Ronnie Lee. Second row, L-R: Dorthe Mikkelsen, Balaka Niyazee, Wendy Tan.]

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