Talent & Tech Asia Summit 2024
'Diversity & inclusion' is more than a buzzword for these 10 leaders

'Diversity & inclusion' is more than a buzzword for these 10 leaders


Leaders from Standard Chartered Bank, NCS, Skechers Southeast Asia, and more share their approach to fostering an inclusive work environment. 

From transparent conversations to open paid time-off policies, inspiring inclusion in the workplace requires a holistic approach. After all, DEI is all about ensuring every one of your employees – regardless of their background or abilities – feels heard.

In this sixth part of HRO's IWD 2024 series, these 10 leaders share their approach to fostering an inclusive work environment. 

Anshu Sharma Raja, Chief Technology & Operations Officer, Africa & Middle East, Standard Chartered

I believe it is fundamental as a leader to role model and create safe spaces where team members feel comfortable sharing contrary views and ideas. Also critical is calling each other out immediately, but respectfully, when you notice someone being left behind or excluded.

At Standard Chartered, our unique diversity, alongside our inclusive values and culture, drives our purpose and business success. We empower our people by embracing the power of diverse thinking and celebrating different ways to achieve goals.

Dr. Claire Michèle Rice, Head of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, the International Baccalaureate (IB)

The IB embraces diversity, equity, and inclusion to develop programmes suited to unique school communities. We apply these same values to our employees.

We empower our staff with equal access to resources through professional development and wellness trainings.

The IB’s remote-first work culture supports work-life balance, enabling flexible work schedules and equal growth opportunities. Transparent conversations about pay and benefits underscore the IB’s people-first workplace.

As a global organisation, our multilingual teams celebrate and incorporate insights from diverse cultures and worldviews into business practices.

Rori Fox, HR Director and HRBP for Human Pharma, ROPU ASKAN (ASEAN, Korea, Australia & New Zealand), Boehringer Ingelheim

We see strengths in our differences at Boehringer Ingelheim. Embracing a people-first approach by living our values, appreciating, and listening to perspectives, we strive for our people and business practices, and working environment to be inclusive. Through flexible work arrangements, dedicated talent development programmes, and curated trainings, we ensure equal opportunities are available for all. Transparency in our processes enables us to identify gaps and we use analytics to accelerate our progress for an inclusive and fair workplace.

Zann Lee, Managing Director, Skechers Southeast Asia

At Skechers Southeast Asia, we are committed to inclusion through our core values of adaptability, dreaming big, accountability, integrity, passion, and teamwork. We want to provide an environment where every employee feels valued, respected, and empowered.

Since 2020, our hybrid work arrangement and more flexible working hours support this commitment. We have also integrated staff from the APSN (a social service agency that provides special education, vocational training and employment support services) and Yellow Ribbon into our workforce to promote diversity and inclusivity and give back to the community.

Izlyn Ramli, CEO, Maybank Foundation

At Maybank Foundation, we believe in the potential of every individual to grow and achieve their fullest potential, regardless of ability. Our commitment to inclusion is reflected in our social impact investments through programmes such as Reach Independence & Sustainable Entrepreneurship (R.I.S.E.), which empowers disadvantaged communities, with a special focus on persons with disabilities, for economic progress. We recognise that in order to uphold Maybank’s mission of humanising financial services, we need to work towards building more inclusive communities.

Caroline Leong, Group Chief Customer Officer, TEEG

At Timezone, our success in bringing smiles to our customers is driven by the 'Fun Squad' team. Therefore, it is imperative to us that they feel happy, safe, and empowered to deliver the best guest experiences. We're fostering an inclusive culture where everyone thrives – from ensuring safety and wellbeing for all, with transport arrangements for women, to equal work, development, and career progression opportunities.

From venue managers to board members, our diverse leadership has a good representation of women leaders proving that inclusion is not just a buzzword for us.

Wynthia Goh, Senior Partner, Global Co-lead, NEXT, NCS

Creating equitable opportunities for women in tech requires a sustained effort. I strive to use my position as a leader and manager of teams to ensure everyone’s voices are heard so we can make the best decisions based on diverse inputs. It is important to recognise individual potential and support them in their personal growth through the multiple career pathways at NCS. I am also a strong advocate of concrete career sponsorship in addition to mentoring.

Kavitha Mariappan, EVP of Customer Experience and Transformation, Zscaler

Taking action is a big part of this. We have to model the behaviour we want to see, and create the change we seek, together as a village.

And this is what we do with Women in Zscaler Engage (WIZE). We go beyond the conversations about DEI and find ways to make an inclusive environment a reality in our day-to-day. The work we do involves partnering closely with the business to encourage systemic organisational change that is sustained in the long-term.

Daphne Tan, Head of CSR, CMC Markets

Inclusion is built into our DNA at CMC Markets, as our business is grounded in elevating financial literacy for young Singaporean women, as well as empowering them to bridge knowledge gaps and to gain confidence with investments. We champion radical transparency across all levels, as everyone is given the authority to challenge status quo to meet business objectives. We highly encourage team members to give and receive constructive feedback graciously. More importantly, we cultivate a growth mindset by embracing healthy conflict resolution and embody honesty by providing everyone with access to leadership as well.

Our support for Sophia, Asia’s first and only female-focused financial education platform, is just one example of how we are looking to assist not only our own staff, but also the wider community when it comes to promoting financial literacy among young Singapore women and to bridge the gender investing gap. CMC Invest has also partnered national athlete Shanti Pereira, to launch an educational campaign that aims to raise awareness for women about the importance of starting to invest and to demystify investing.

Cindy Tan, CEO Singapore, GMO

At GMO, we have always been an organisation that values diverse perspectives and celebrates and respects differences. We firmly believe that a diverse team and an inclusive environment will achieve and create the best results for both our people and our clients. Thus, we are wholly committed to fostering a culture of engaging, encouraging and supporting each other. GMO provides inclusive workforce benefits, such as flexible work arrangements, open paid time-off policies, parental leave, a charitable gift matching programme, and more, to support our diverse employees and increase retention and new talent attraction.

Over the past several years, we continued in our efforts to improve not only our own but also the investment industry’s diversity and social awareness. For example, GMO is one of the first 16 signatories to the CFA Institute's Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Code for the investment profession in the US and Canada, and this has consequently led to my involvement in the local adaptation of the Code that we are doing here in Singapore. We consistently research and engage in opportunities to increase and promote diversity and inclusion, including learning through our network and leveraging from best practices adopted at other firms and in our industry.

The principles underpinning inclusion are simple and universal ones that apply to interpersonal relationships, especially in a workplace setting – open communication, transparency, flexibility and fairness. We believe that one of the most effective ways to inspire inclusion at the workplace is by creating a safe space that engages employees and encourages honesty, active participation and collaboration to unlock unique solutions for clients.

ALSO READ: International Women's Day 2024: It's time to #InspireInclusion

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