Equity can be defined as giving everyone what they need to be successful. The IWD 2023 campaign theme seeks to forge worldwide understanding about why equal opportunities aren’t enough, and a focus on gender equity needs to be part of every society’s DNA.
International Women’s Day belongs to everyone, everywhere. Collectively, we can all help create a diverse, equitable and inclusive world.
1. How can companies strive for more equitable talent attraction?
There is no one size fits all. Some background about Hugosave. We are a fintech licenced and based in Singapore, a digital companion which empowers our users to spend, save and invest confidently, effortlessly and sustainably through an inclusive and easy-to-understand wealthcare journey. What works for one organisation may not be suitable for another. Here is how we are doing it at Hugosave:
We ensure that our job descriptions do not have any language or requirements that could create barriers to entry for underrepresented groups.
We offer training and development opportunities to grow with our company, helping our employees acquire new skills and give equal access to career advancement opportunities.
We encourage our team members to build networks, receive guidance, and develop skills that can help them succeed in their careers.
We offer hybrid and flexible work arrangements, recognising the importance of work-life balance and giving our employees more control over their work schedules. This is helpful for our employees with diverse needs in particular caregiving responsibilities, irrespective of gender.
2. Within your market/industry sector, what progress have you seen businesses take to progress gender equity?
While there is still work to be done, the fintech industry is taking steps in the right direction to create a more inclusive and diverse workforce.
It is heartening to see that more and more girls enrolling in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) disciplines, which traditionally have been male-dominated. At Hugosave, we have accepted a few female interns in our Engineering department.
Many fintech companies have made efforts to increase the number of women in leadership positions. This includes initiatives such as mentorship programs and leadership development programs. There is a Women In Fintech sub-group within the Singapore Fintech Association to support professional development and training for women to help them build their skills and advance their careers.
3. What does being an effective ally for women look like to you?
To me, it's not about man-for-woman or woman-for-woman. I have had the benefit of the support and mentorship of both male and female bosses. Use your voice and platform to amplify the voices of women and raise awareness about gender-based discrimination and inequality. Call out sexist language and behavior, and challenge harmful stereotypes and biases. Gender-based discrimination intersects with other forms of discrimination, such as race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and ability. Being an effective ally for women means recognising and addressing these intersections.
4. What advice would you give women in the industry you work in?
Jane Frazer, CEO of Citigroup, once said, “There is some crazy pressure on women, and on men, to almost be superwoman or superman, and that’s just not realistic… you can have it all, but don’t expect to have it at exactly the same time.”
From my personal experience, I have learned that the road to success is rarely a straight line, and setbacks and challenges are inevitable. My career path was not linear and that was OK. So, some general advice:
Recognise your strengths and focus on developing the skills and knowledge you need to succeed
Find mentors and allies who can provide guidance, support and advocacy as you navigate your career. Look for individuals who share your values and can provide constructive feedback and mentorship.
Prioritise self-care and maintain a healthy work-life balance. Take time to recharge, prioritise your mental and physical health, and seek out support when you need it.
Stay up-to-date with industry trends by reading industry publications, attending conferences, and networking with other professionals in the industry.
Focus on developing skills that are in high demand. In the case of the fintech industry, the examples would be data analysis, programming, and financial modelling.
Stay curious. Don't be afraid to take on new challenges and opportunities, even if they feel outside your comfort zone. Embrace the opportunity to learn and grow, and use challenges as opportunities to demonstrate your resilience, skills and abilities.
Fintech has historically been a male-dominated industry, but there are many efforts to promote diversity and inclusion. If you are an aspiring woman in the fast-paced fintech industry, it's even more important to advocate for diversity and inclusion in the workplace and be a role model for others. Send the elevator down.
5. International Women’s Day is also about celebrating women and their achievements What woman/women inspire you?
There are many notable women who have made significant contributions in their respective fields and serve as inspiring figures for many. One lady who has been a great inspiration to me was Rosa Parks, whose courageous act of defiance and the Montgomery bus boycott made her an international icon of resistance to racial segregation and the fight for justice and equality.
While we celebrate how far women have progressed on this day, let us not forget to appreciate the men who have played positive roles in advocating for women’s rights and promoting gender equality, walking alongside women for this cause.
Gender equality is a shared responsibility and cannot be achieved without the active participation and support of both men and women.
6. What do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership?
While it is heartening to see more girls given the opportunity to receive an education, there is still a lot to be done, to enable more women to join the workforce. For those who are already in the workforce, there are several barriers that can hinder the progress of women in leadership roles.
There is persistent gender bias and stereotypes that exist in our society, preventing women from being seen as competent and capable leaders, which may lead to gender discrimination in hiring, promotion and pay in some organisations.
Another significant barrier is the lack of representation of women in senior leadership positions. When there is a lack of role models, it can be challenging for other women to envision themselves in those positions.
Women often have to juggle multiple responsibilities, including caring for children or elderly family members, which can make it challenging to pursue career advancement opportunities. The lack of work-life balance support and affordable childcare can also pose a significant barrier to women's leadership. In most instances, their careers would have to take a back seat.
Overcoming these barriers requires a concerted effort from individuals, organisations, and society as a whole. Encouraging diverse representation in leadership positions, challenging gender stereotypes, providing flexible work arrangements, and promoting policies that support work-life balance can all help break down barriers and create more opportunities for women to pursue leadership roles.
Let us continue to work together to promote gender equality and celebrate the progress that has been made, while also acknowledging the important role that men play in this journey.