For Jelene Sim, Co-founder, Bespoke Habitat and Proptiply, equity has helped her uncover her "Charcoal to Diamond" employee.
Equity doesn't just start and end in the workplace. For many, equity and equality have shaped their lives from a very young age.
As we wrap up our International Women's Day (IWD) campaign this year, Human Resources Online would like to end off on a personal note. In this final story, seven leaders share how equity has played a big role in their lives.
We look forward to diving deeper into diversity matters with you again next year. In the meantime, we hope our IWD stories have impacted you to keep championing DEI as leaders and individuals!
Mdm Tham Hong Soon, Senior Health Attendant, SATA CommHealth
Having been with SATA CommHealth since its founding days, I have witnessed many changes and faced daily challenges on the medical front. My experience has helped me to adapt, learn new things and truly understand my worth and equity as an essential part of the healthcare system – especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Similarly to when tuberculosis was prevalent in the early 70s, we had to remain steadfast because every effort big or small made a difference. Despite having no formal education back then, SATA provided me with the training to better equip myself to serve the community.
Today, at my age, I am glad that I am given the same respect and fair opportunities, which has allowed me to thrive and prove my worth. My age or gender was never a hindrance, and we should always keep an open mind towards learning and upskilling so we can be prepared in an ever-changing environment.
Hana Raja, Managing Director, Cisco Malaysia
Embracing equity for me is being able to dream and realise that it's possible to be a great leader and mother. It's about being brave to carve my day and draw the right boundaries based on what I need to thrive in life, like starting work only after sending my children to school or taking a spin class.
It's also about not holding my ambitions back just because I anticipate certain changes in my life like going on maternity leave and extending this same empowerment to my team. It is the flexibility and trust engrained in Cisco's culture that empowers me to lean into this.
Equity to Cisco means enabling an inclusive, collaborative workplace that celebrates the diversity of our people, with technology as the key enabler. Everyone is empowered to take care of themselves because it allows them to be their best at work. We are conscious of how we show up, what we say, and how we behave. Hybrid work has always been normal for us because of the autonomy it provided to get work done, when, how, and where teams are most productive.
Zoe Zuo, Managing Director, Innovative Hub
Embracing equality has opened up new networking and business opportunities for me as a female entrepreneur. When Innovative Hub was founded in 2016, my eCommerce enabler was given the opportunity to become a Channel Partner for Alibaba.com in Singapore. I am grateful for the country manager who made this possible, and saw my vision for advancing Alibaba.com’s business to Singapore. That vision for advancement remains a fundamental component of our business to this day, with our expansions to Malaysia and Vietnam, all thanks to my team's confidence and faith in my leadership.
With the increased visibility and recognition of female entrepreneurs, it has been a privilege for me to mentor young, talented women, who are confident and fearless in their pursuit of greatness. I hope to continue uplifting future generations of women to achieve their full potential.
Crystal Wong, Head of Partnerships, SleekFlow
As the first female hire and the fourth member of the 104-strong SleekFlow team, I take pride in my role and see it as an opportunity to champion female talent. I believe that everyone should have equal access to resources and opportunities by advocating for individuals with good work ethics and varied skill sets.
I have been able to work with trailblazing individuals in roles that are “traditionally” ascribed to the opposite gender. And it’s been a pleasure growing our group of female developers and working with male marketers on various campaigns and events regularly.
Apart from that, I enjoy providing mentorship to my teammates by sharing my own experiences with them and helping them achieve their personal and professional goals. I hope to shape more female leaders of tomorrow by ensuring that all members are responsible for creating a safe and comfortable workplace together.
Jeanette Wong, Head of Marketing, Circles.Life Singapore
Embracing equity is knowing that you play a part in pushing for change and consistently work towards positive change. I was brought up in a single-parent family where my dad passed away before I was born. My mom was the embodiment of grit for me. With just a primary school education, she received property certifications, achieved a diploma, and brought up two children. From her, I learned that every individual makes choices that impact themselves and others.
At the very least, I should aim to change myself. Then, with influence, I can be the change I want to see and change situations to empower others. This has shaped my leadership style to one that focuses on how I can empower others to succeed.
Jelene Sim, Co-founder, Bespoke Habitat and Proptiply
When we hire, we seek beyond gender, education qualification, and race. We seek the heart.
Christina, 44, was our student at Proptiply in February 2022. At the end of the bootcamp, she private-messaged me that she wanted to join our team and sent me her resume. I had no opening then. She told me, 'I am willing to join you even if I am not paid. I am willing to go for an unpaid internship with you.' During our conversations, she had low self-esteem. She claimed that she is slow in learning, quick-tempered, had no entrepreneurial mindset, but she has the heart to learn. That won me over. We embraced her into our team.
Today, she is heading logistics planning for all events that we run. Her meticulousness, attention to detail, hard work, and 'heart work' impress us the most. Her willingness to go the extra mile to ensure excellence is unbelievable! We gave her a "Charcoal to Diamond Award".
I would have missed this diamond if I had not embraced Christina's strengths and weaknesses!
Yanhong Lin, Director, HR Business Partner APAC, AVEVA
Equity is not something we can take for granted. This is especially so in Asia, where most families are predominantly patriarchal.
Thankfully, I was raised by my mother who was a strong female role model in my life. Through my mother’s success as a leader in a male-dominated marine industry, I’ve learned how to challenge stereotypes and the importance of embracing equity in the workplace.
Today, I am grateful for my partner who respects my career, treats me as an equal, and ensures a fair distribution of household duties and caring responsibilities. This has enabled me to better focus on my career, go on expatriate assignments in China and the US, and take on bigger responsibilities at work.
At the end of the day, everyone plays a role in embracing equity. Having the right mindset and constant reinforcement goes a long way in allowing everyone to achieve our fullest potential.
Thank you for reading our story! If you have any feedback, feel free to let us know — take our 2023 Readers' Survey here.
All images / Provided