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In this exclusive feature, Wendy Chan, JLL's chair of diversity and inclusion, revealed to Human Resources Online how this year's IWD theme resonates with her.  

Echoing this year's theme, she wants to challenge the stereotype of leadership. She further elaborated that while outspoken males can drive business in the firm, leadership roles should not be only available to them. Females that are not afraid to speak up in meetings and share their thoughts with colleagues can also be good leaders in their own way. 

Read more IWD: Leaders in HK pledge support to accelerate gender equality

1. How does #ChoosetoChallenge resonate with you?

Challenge has always been a theme in my life. When I was four years old, my family moved from mainland China to Hong Kong, and we struggled to make a living. As a young girl, I knew that I needed to put effort in at school, get a proper education and prepare myself for work as early as possible, so that I could get myself and my family out of the situation. So, these were the life challenges I needed to tackle. It was not until I became a mother of two children that I extend this sense of challenging the status quo to inequality. I reflected on how I could inspire my kids to become better people. I thought, what better way to guide them than by becoming a role model myself.

And this is how it started – I took courses on unconscious bias, joined D&I workshops and panels, and now I lead JLL's D&I initiatives in Greater China. Conversely, as I climbed up the corporate ladder and became more senior at work, I realised that in the workplace sometimes it is not just about working hard. I have also been working closely with my peers at JLL to make a difference for our people and communities through a diverse and inclusive culture. Overall, I think choosing to challenge means that you do not have to take things for granted, you challenge the inequality, and you take action, so that eventually we can create a better world, for both males and females.  

2. What is your organisation’s call-to-action to help forge gender equality at the workplace? 

Our APAC D&I chairs are APAC CEO, Anthony Couse, and APAC HR head, Helen Snowball, who drive D&I together with our business growth. Anthony always talks about D&I and shares his personal stories in every townhall meeting. They give full support to every regional head in driving local D&I initiatives. For this year's IWD, we will host two panel discussions with guest speakers and our senior leaders in addressing stigma around mental health in Hong Kong.

3. What is your career advice to younger women? 

I have heard some young women say that they do not want to progress up the career ladder as they plan to get married and become a mother in the future. But the business world is changing. Many companies are supporting high-potential women in finding their paths towards higher level roles and providing more family support. Just give it a shot, and see how it goes!

Never set a goal purely based on where you are now. Believe in yourself, and give 100% of your efforts to pursue your dreams, be it in career or life.