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International Women's Day was celebrated across Hong Kong offices on 8 March, and at FedEx, in honour of the annual occasion, its branches in APAC, the Middle East, and Africa (AMEA) are hosting a series of activities throughout the entire week.

On Monday, led by FedEx's regional diversity, equity and inclusion committee's gender pillar leads, over 800 employees across the regions gathered together in an online story sharing event.

FedEx's president (AMEA) Kawal Preet represented the region to take part in the company symposium called 'Educate. Empower. Enlighten.' to discuss various D&I issues with top female talents and leaders at different branches. 

"Women empowerment is not about prohibiting male participation as we need both men and women acting in solidarity to achieve gender equality. So, we’ll be having our male colleagues showing their support on the virtual stage this year as well," Preet told Human Resources Online.

For the rest of the week, employees were invited to post #ChoosetoChallenge themed pictures, videos and stories on FedEx's digital noticeboard where the company would select the highlights and share activity ideas such as best movies to watch by female directors. Additionally, activities were also planned at the local level. 

Preet said FedEx is a workplace where "women in leadership is a norm, not an exception", even though the nature of the industry tends to be male-dominated. The company debuted the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) Council to reinforce the importance of DE&I in the region, and its efforts in D&I was recognised internationally. Nevertheless, Preet stressed that "equity and inclusion is a continuous journey", so they will continue to challenge themselves and look for growth. 

"My own journey through the organisation has strengthened my focus on diversity, equity and inclusion, and as a female leader, I am devoted to drive change wherever needed and there is always opportunity to do more and do better," she said. 

On a personal note, in response to the International Women's Day theme, she wants to challenge the world to look into women's career amid the pandemic.  

"A real passion point for me right now is the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on women's careers. Women have been disproportionately affected and the economic fallout from Covid-19 is exacerbating inequality like never before," she said. 

"We can connect women to programmes and policies that empower the next generation of entrepreneurs, helping them access new markets and grow. We can also support women-led firms by identifying and implementing the best solutions so they can compete in home markets and in cross-border e-commerce."

When asked about her advice to fellow females, she looked back at her career and revealed that she was once in a tug-of-war battle between a position that she longed for and her family. 

"I personally struggled in the self-doubt trap when one of my biggest career opportunities was presented to me. At that moment, I was in Singapore and finally decided to put my hand up and interview for the job — and I got it. Making the very difficult decision to move from Singapore to Hong Kong with a two-year-old in tow to take on a very challenging role and raising my son with no family or friends to support was anything but easy," she said.

"That said, it may have been the smartest decision I made in my career, and one that eventually led me to my current position. I encourage all younger women to focus on a growth mindset. You can achieve whatever you put your mind to," she added. 

Continuing, she shared a quote from Franklin D. Roosevelt: “A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.”, meaning taking the easy way can never make anyone a better person. 

She urged every woman to step out of their comfort zone, take risks and pursue dreams that others may consider impossible. 

READ MORE about this year's International Women's Day: 

Happy International Women's Day 2021: Wishes for the year ahead

IWD: Leaders in HK pledge support to accelerate gender equality

Q&A with JLL's chair of diversity and inclusion Wendy Chan

A look at how AXA and the Executive Centre support diversity and inclusion