Being able to co-parent alongside a mother who was unable to raise her baby due to emotional and financial burden completely changed Lori Murphy's life. Here is hers, and 10 more stories, on nurturing women from diverse backgrounds and talents.
To truly #EmbraceEquity, we should all strive to be fair and inclusive not just in the workplace, but in our everyday lives. The significance of this is highlighted for International Women's Day (IWD) 2023 — equity is the goal, and equality is the means to get there. Even as IWD has passed this year, being equitable should be something leaders hold close to them everyday.
In line with the IWD 2023 theme, 11 leaders share with Arina Sofiah a personal story/anecdote of how embracing equity has impacted their lives, be it at home or at work.
This story is part of Human Resources Online's larger IWD campaign this year, with three separate concepts surrounding the same theme. To read all the stories, click here.
Sabrina Chiang, Head of Data Partnership & Acquisition North Asia/Oceania, HERE Technologies
My grandfather was a politician in Taiwan. Growing up, I’ve had the privilege to observe the way he worked in a male-dominated political industry. That was why I decided to become a leader who breaks the gender bias in male-dominated industries.
Having being born in Taiwan, studied in the UK, and now working in Japan, it was clear to me that the pandemic had accentuated the disparities between women and men – especially in North Asia where a conservative culture is still a glass ceiling for working women.
However, I believe this has raised greater awareness and see it as an opportunity to move towards #EmbracingEquity. At HERE, extensive efforts have been put in place to ensure that every voice counts and support is provided to individual employees based on their needs. As a female leader, I take pride in identifying barriers for women, and making the necessary changes to eliminate them so we have a more inclusive working environment.
Lori Murphy, Vice President, Creation, Design & Development, Asia-Pacific, Human Nutrition, ADM
Through a church programme, I met a pregnant mother who was unable to raise her baby due to the emotional and financial burden she was facing. Eventually, she had a change of heart and asked if we could co-parent him, along with an 18-month-old child she had. It truly felt like it was my calling, so I accepted, and the next 10 years completely changed my life.
The children are biracial and unfortunately were exposed to prejudice at a very young age. It was important to teach them that racism exists, and we must stand up against it, which is what compels me to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion today. I enjoy growing people from all walks of life be it at home or work. Everyone should have equal opportunities to progress in life, and embracing equity also means to love and accept others unconditionally no matter the circumstance.
Jo Olivia Lee, Chief Operating Officer and Co-Founder, Lendor
#EmbracingEquality to me means building and nurturing a team of women from diverse backgrounds and talents, across every level of the business.
At Lendor, we are a predominantly-female team on a mission to fight global e-waste by redefining how businesses and consumers use tech devices. As a startup, it is imperative that our team members’ feedback and suggestions are being recognised and implemented. We strive to create a work environment where everyone is respected and celebrated.
Equality also means being intersectional and supporting women from every aspect of society. From foreign domestic workers to female inmates, every woman has the right to equal opportunities and we are here to make sure of that with our edutech initiatives.
Minjoo Lee, Head of Marketing, Deliveroo Singapore
As someone who grew up in China while spending a significant part of my life in Korea and Singapore - embracing equity is a value I hold dear to my heart. The global experiences that I have had with people from all walks of life has shaped me to be more aware of unconscious bias or perception that might unintentionally influence thoughts/decisions.
I am very fortunate to be working in a company like Deliveroo that also has a strong DEI culture of #EmbracingEquity, aligning with my personal values. We even have an unconscious bias training that helps readdress thoughts and recognise potential unconscious biases that can occur in our daily lives and at work. With this, I look forward to continuing to build teams with members from diverse backgrounds - across various genders, races, regions, and ages.
Koh Yan Ping, CEO, Singapore Council of Women’s Organisations
This year’s IWD theme focuses on gender equity, which is the means to achieving gender equality by recognising the differences between men and women. It focuses on tailoring resources and opportunities according to one’s different circumstances and needs to arrive at an equal outcome for everyone.
It is commonly believed that men generally do not have the propensity to play the caregiver role like women. As a mother of three, I count myself blessed to be able to pursue my aspirations without having to compromise my career – thanks to my husband who shares in parenting duties and household chores. We have a very strong partnership and knowing that he has my back has empowered me to take on leadership roles.
Equity goes beyond simply providing equal access to career development and progression for all. I look forward to more support from employers to encourage and acknowledge male employees who are taking on caregiving responsibilities. Only with such norms can we build a better, more equitable society for working mothers.
Dr. Betty Vandenbosch, Senior Advisor to the CEO, Coursera
I live by the Dutch proverb “Nee heb je, ja kun je krijgen,” which translates to “You have (a) no, (a) yes you can get” – asking for something and getting a "no" is better than never asking at all. This is my mantra and advice to everyone. Explore more options, take up new challenges, and be bold, to create opportunities for yourself and others. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to try.
Even though education should be available to all, it is not always the case. And so, my life’s work is to improve the world through education, providing equitable learning opportunities, and I’m glad my role at Coursera allows me to do that at scale. It is heartening to hear many success stories – especially post-pandemic – about women embracing online learning to develop new skills, accelerate their return to work and promote economic mobility. This is the beginning of the next new chapter. As more women learn online in the new normal, we’ll see equity increase.
Katherina Park, HR Manager, ESET APAC
Embracing equity is about giving everyone, including ourself, the support to be the best version of ourselves and succeed in life regardless of our personal circumstances.
As a mother, I understand the misconception that being a parent would impact one’s capability to lead. While it is true that parenthood brings a new set of challenges, it definitely does not mean that working parents will be less capable, or less dedicated to their career. I would encourage employers to have open conversations with working parents on how they want to grow their career, and the support they require to balance their caregiving responsibilities.
This approach is of course not unique to working parents, but every employee. When we recognise people’s diverse needs, this will set the foundation for a more inclusive, equitable workplace for all.
Michele Schofield, Senior Vice President, Commercial, Viddsee
In my media industry experience, opportunities plus good instincts and a lot of resilience helped me rise the ladder. I’ve dealt with creative and managerial personalities who weren’t always rational or stable. I overcompensated to prove myself physically capable in production and learned how I didn’t want to manage people with humiliation or condescension.
I #EmbraceEquity by being a leader who encourages, empowers, and gives ownership. I believe in Viddsee's goal of empowering storytellers - tapping on initiatives like Viddsee for Good providing opportunities for female filmmakers to spotlight social issues and create impact on the community through their stories.
Joy Leggo, CEO, Cultura
Overseeing an organisation that at its heart, represents 80 different nationalities, means the question of equity is not easy to answer. Our values of inclusion, integrity, sustainability, and kindness lend themselves to the quality of being fair and impartial.
As a new and emerging organisation creating its own culture; diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) must be our foundation stone, from which we build a workplace and indeed a community that celebrates equity and equality.
In the early years of my career – a very long time ago, things were far from being fair and impartial for a woman in a CEO role. I recall I had to work twice as hard as my male colleagues to prove I had the skills & knowledge to undertake a senior management role. I have bought those insights with me on my management journey to ensure I am fair and transparent in everything I do.
We have come a long way in this space, and it is pleasing to see that we can all make a difference if treated fairly and equally.
Dr May Ho, Optometry and Primary Care Adviser, The Fred Hollows Foundation
One of the things that struck me when I became an optometrist was that not everyone has equal access to eye health.
On a trip to Vanuatu, I met women in their mid 40s who had stopped working because they didn’t have access to glasses. Something as simple as a pair of glasses could have given them back their ability to contribute to society.
Meeting these women has driven me to change the eye care landscape in developing countries. Through my work as an optometry adviser at eye care organisations and The Fred Hollows Foundation I have helped establish optometry schools and trained local health workers.
Because women make up 55% of the world’s blind population, training women to become eye health workers and educators is a core part of what we do. I believe this is a meaningful path to achieving equity and empowering people to uplift their communities.
Kate Fitzpatrick, Regional Security Director, EMEA, World Travel Protection
As a woman in a male-dominated industry, I’ve battled for equality throughout my career. Even recently, when I was assessing security risks for business travellers at a site in Sierra Leone or speaking to a police chief in South America, I faced initial pushback and bias because I’m a ‘woman’ Security Director. I feel I must explain my government law enforcement and security background to gain their respect.
For women business travellers we support, we often undertake specific risk assessments as women can face different threats. It’s my job to ensure that women travellers can do their jobs, without fear for their safety and security. Also, in my organisation, I’m pleased to say that senior men colleagues are genuine allies to achieving equity in the workplace, and I’m also surrounded by other senior women leaders. Together, I hope, we’re blazing the trail for future generations.
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