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. Within your market/industry sector, what progress have you seen businesses take to progress gender equity?
There’s definitely more awareness and recognition of the need for diversity. More businesses and hiring managers have become more cognizant of the gender gap, especially in the cybersecurity and tech industry.
I’ve seen many security leaders targeting their recruitment and awareness efforts, focusing on attracting talent via their organisational culture, career progression, leadership and mentorship initiatives, as well as their diversity and inclusion program with family-friendly benefits, wellness care packages and flexible work arrangements.
2. What is one action companies can take to further balance their talent attraction strategies?
I’m going to list a few key actions. But first, a quick-win action for companies would be to review their current recruitment and hiring process and check if any particular group would be unfairly disadvantaged. Focus on removing biases, this means taking steps to ensure that job postings are intentionally inclusive and the language used is gender neutral. Having a diverse interview panel (not just across gender, but in experiences and cultural backgrounds) also helps. Finally, instead of just relying on job applicants, have a process where the talent team actively seeks out diverse candidates.
3. What is your top advice for making job descriptions more inclusive?
Check and see if your job requirements are overly restrictive and if it’s just a checklist. Prioritise the specific skills and qualifications needed for the role while keeping any non-essential requirements as broad as possible. Avoid overly restrictive criteria, such as setting a minimum number of years of experience, which could discourage younger applicants or those who have taken time off from work for caregiving. I need to also highlight, I’ve heard many similar stories where people were deterred from applying for jobs as they self-disqualify upon seeing gender-coded languages.
4. Do you think that more companies adopting a hybrid working pattern has helped to shift pre-conceived conceptions about flexible working for women, and why?
Definitely! Hybrid working patterns have helped normalise flexible work arrangements and showcase its feasibility and productivity. This shift has made it easier for those with caregiving responsibilities to participate without the traditional stigmatisation.
5. What does being an effective ally for women look like to you?
Lala, and no, it’s not the seafood clams. LALA: Listen, Affirm, Learn, Advocate.
Listen, affirm your peer’s ideas by amplifying their voice, take time to learn different perspectives and experiences, and then advocate for diversity by supporting inclusion initiatives, mentorship, and championing their career advancements and progress.
6. What advice would you give aspiring women in the industry you work in?
Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for mentorship! People are more willing to help and share their experiences, more than we might realise. Also, let’s continually challenge ourselves in overcoming all the different syndromes, such as the imposter syndrome all the way to the tall poppy syndrome. I was invited to share my personal journey and growth at the TEDx stage (https://www.ted.com/talks/shamane_tan_the_imposter_syndrome_of_the_tall_poppies) and yet, constantly have to remind myself of the same as well.