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How these 11 leaders enable a culture that speaks to all women who are looking to step up

How these 11 leaders enable a culture that speaks to all women who are looking to step up


It's not enough to treat people equally, but we must acknowledge and address barriers which prevent women from advancing in their lives and careers, as shared by Andrea Randall, Partner at RPC. Here's how these 11 leaders achieve this.

#EmbraceEquity is not just a slogan, but a commitment to be delivered through concrete actions, requiring collective as well as individual efforts from all of us.

Continuing the IWD 2023 theme, 11 leaders across the region serve as examples to demonstrate how they walk the talk to make a difference and improve equity for women in their respective sectors.

As part of Human Resources Online's special IWD series this year, more leaders come to the front and share their professional and personal experiences, and insight, under three separate concepts on the theme. Don’t miss out!

Click here to read all the stories.

Janice Siu, Managing Director, APAC Growth, Landor & Fitch

janice siu landor fitch

I feel incredibly honoured to champion the first employee-led initiative on gender equality in the region at Landor & Fitch. 'Building To Belong' aims to create a safe and inclusive environment for employees to discuss meaningful gender equality topics, support the career development of our female talents, enable them to grow within the network, and empower them to navigate gender bias in their career journey.

As a leading brand transformation agency in creative industry, it fills me with pride to say that 53% of our leadership positions are filled by female employees, and 63% of our total employee population are female. Diversity and equality are core to our culture and a truly diverse workplace makes a positive difference every day. I'm grateful to be part of an organisation that values and celebrates diversity.

Ng Ying Yuan, Chief Operating Officer for Group Human Resources, DBS

ng ying yuan dbs

Our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion is a core tenet of our employee value proposition and a key enabler for us to continue attracting the best people and building the best teams who can reimagine the future of banking.

Beyond policies designed to support our employees through different life stages, we are creating communities to foster social learning and peer mentorship. Since 2021, we have been partnering ‘Lean In’, the global movement committed to driving workplace inclusion, to create platforms for colleagues in similar career stages to have honest and open conversations on topics such as leadership, work-family balance, and challenging gender bias.

DBS also runs regular employee programmes on unconscious bias to help our people become more aware of implicit biases, including gender bias, and to provide employees with practical tools to manage these.

Pearlyn Yeo, Head of Content & Experience, Circles.Life

pearlyn yeo circles.life

Equity comes in several forms, but it all stems from the phrase, “same to all”.

As a leader, I believe women need to be empowered to make the same decisions, obtain the same opportunities, and be acknowledged in the same environment. I continuously do so by being the voice in the company, empowering more female peers and leaders, and challenging them to rise up to the next level of autonomy and ownership. This also stems from collaborating with other female voices to create safe spaces and opportunities for other women to learn and grow.

By doing so, we enable a culture that speaks to all women who are looking to step up, and this starts from being role models ourselves to serve as inspiration to others.

Karen Tan, Human Resources Business Partner – Animal Health, ASKAN (ASEAN, South Korea, Australia & New Zealand), Boehringer Ingelheim

karen tan boehringer ingelheim

Equity is something I’m deeply passionate about, both in my HR role and as a woman. While it has certainly improved over the years, more can be done.

I’m fortunate to work at a company which consciously ensures everyone has the same opportunities. We challenge our business leaders to see things differently. I ask them to face their unconscious biases e.g. not asking female candidates if they intend to get married or have children when it’s not relevant.

We constantly partner with the business to ensure diverse succession candidates and that we remain an equal opportunity employer for talent acquisition.

DE&I is embedded into our programmes to spread our inclusive mindset. We don’t intentionally spotlight female employees to be “woke”, but instead look at how inspirational they are as individuals.

Everyone, regardless of their gender, has a role to play to promote equity!

Christopher Natassia Yvonne, First Officer, Scoot

christopher natassia yvonne scoot

Given the opportunity, women have the potential to excel in any sector, yet often lack awareness of available platforms. Thanks to Scoot's Cadet Pilot Programme, I was able to launch my career in a male-dominated industry. As a female pilot at Scoot, I prioritise building relationships with other women in aviation, providing a safe space to share experiences, offering advice, and providing emotional support.

Recently, I had the privilege of speaking on a panel for Women in Aviation (Singapore) events and have since formed new friendships with members of the organisation. By sharing my personal experiences and challenges, I hope to inspire young women to pursue careers in the aviation industry. I look forward to seeing more women in the aviation industry, not only as cabin crew but as aerospace engineers, pilots, air traffic controllers, flight dispatchers and other ground roles.

Catherine Logue, Founder, Hibernicis

catherine logue hibernicis

Equity for women in any business be it new or old, small or large, should be a fundamental right and I look forward to the day when this topic is obsolete. Being an older woman, I have worked with various companies, through many decades and have experienced inequality, particularly in relation to income and perhaps, to a degree opportunities. The wonderful thing about experience is you can pick the best and the worst from what has been learnt and choose to apply it, or learn from it, going forward.

As I lead my own company, I will, and have employed the best fit for each given task without influence of gender, race or age. Quite frankly it is irrelevant. Feminine and masculine in all its variations can bring strength, quality and nuance to a team. Age can bring experience, wisdom and clarity, whereas youth brings vibrancy and energy. As for race , we are living in a world where we interact daily, live, eat and travel together. We should reflect all of this in our workspace.

Victoria Allan, Founder & Managing Director, Habitat Property

victoria allan habitat property

Habitat has been a female-led company since the very beginning and currently 85% of our employees are women, although people may think that the real estate industry is male-dominated.

When I started Habitat I realised there were many women that came to Hong Kong as trailing spouses that were overly qualified and wanted to work and have a rewarding career. At Habitat, I’ve offered many people the chance to retrain as a property agent to have a second rewarding career that is also financially attractive. I also offer a working environment that provides a lot of flexibility to women, with flexible hours and working locations, so that employees can work in the office and have an allocated desk, but all our systems enable you to work at home when required.

We expanded the business with a new office in Stanley in 2021 which also benefits team members who live in the Southern District. As many of our team who love South Side have children, this office gives many the ability to work close to home. I’m happy to provide the flexibility to them and will continue building the inclusive, equal, and caring working environment in Habitat Property.

The upside of offering this type of set up for women in particular is that I have an incredibly high retention rate of staff. In the 20 years of running Habitat, I have only had two employees resign to go to competitors. Other staff have left only because they have left Hong Kong. This enabled the business to remain much more stable through cycles and more importantly has created a very strong team bond which results in winning higher revenue for the business.

Dr. Athena M. Nguyen, Senior Manager, Capability and Impact Unit, CARE Australia

dr. athena m. nguyen care australia

CARE Australia puts gender equality at the heart of everything we do. From supporting women to earn an income and take up leadership opportunities, to ensuring that women’s needs are included in addressing climate change. CARE supports women in the communities we work with to speak up about the priorities that are important to them and changes they want to see.

We support women to lead and participate in decisions that affect their lives, and create laws, policies, and programmes that create a gender-just world. CARE Australia works in both long-term development and humanitarian disasters, supporting women’s meaningful participation and leadership to ensure the inclusion of women, people with disabilities, and other marginalised groups in all our programmes.

CARE Australia is committed to what we call the ‘locally led’ approach; supporting those who are most affected by development or humanitarian challenges to be the ones leading the solutions.

Laura Houldsworth, Managing Director, Asia Pacific, Booking.com

laura houldsworth booking com

I am privileged to work at an organisation where diversity, inclusion, and wellbeing take priority. Our comprehensive reviews of employment benefits ensure we provide consistent rewards for all employees, regardless of gender, while progressive policies like 22 weeks of parental leave are present to help parents achieve work-life harmony. Today, women make up 52% of Booking.com’s global team and 59% of our APAC workforce — a statistic we are incredibly proud of, that speaks to our team’s long-term efforts.

As the first female MD for Booking.com, it is my honour to be able to show our women that we have a space to be ourselves. I am intentional about ensuring we have not just gender diversity but diversity in the broadest sense in my leadership team — I am proud to have a 50/50 gender split across six nationalities, from four different decades. We are not perfect and there is still work to be done, but we are relentless in our pursuit for equity and will continue to put our best foot forward.

Lisa Williamson, Partner, Natroshield

lisa williamson natroshield

At the autumn of a long career, I am disappointed that there is still much to be done in the area of the gender pay gap.

The United Nations reports that "Stark gender disparities remain in economic and political realms. While there has been some progress over the decades, on average, women in the labour market still earn 20% less than men globally."

Change continues by having uncomfortable conversations at every level in the organisation and I am committed to constantly speaking to this issue. In my sector, I do this through one-to-one conversations with my mentees – male and female both. This topic is also part of boardroom discussions and during my day-to-day global business meetings with top executives. Additionally, I provide support to organisations that fight for equity, I believe this is important, especially if you are in a leadership role.

Andrea Randall, Partner, RPC

andrea randall rpc law

The two concepts – equity and equality – are often used interchangeably. Yet, as one commentator succinctly put it: "equal opportunities is not enough".

What we thrive for at RPC, is equity. It's not enough to treat people equally, but we must acknowledge and address barriers that are in place which prevent women, and other marginalised communities, from advancing in their lives and careers.

RPC has implemented a 'Gender Balance Plan' which identifies areas where barriers to gender balance could occur and have introduced steps we can take to disrupt those barriers:

  • ensuring that all senior level appointments have a balanced candidate list;
  • hosting events that have a balanced invite list;
  • promoting flexible, dynamic and inclusive working practices across the firm;
  • programmes to support new parents into successfully transitioning back into the workplace.

We hope that commitment to these changes will ultimately ensure that the industry is more sustainable for the next generation.

Thank you for reading our story! If you have any feedback, feel free to let us know — take our 2023 Readers' Survey here.

Photos / Provided

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