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IWD: #InspireInclusion with Grace Ong, Compliance professional

  • Publish Date: Posted about 1 month ago
  • Author:by Vincent Yao

​​​This International Women's Day, I interviewed Grace Ong, a compliance professional, and she shared her thoughts on how we can #InspireInclusion.

When we inspire others to understand and value women's inclusion, we forge a better world. The IWD 2024 campaign theme seeks to inspire others to understand and value women's inclusion. Organisations, groups, and individuals worldwide can all play a part, and to truly include women means to openly embrace their diversity of race, age, ability, faith, body image, and how they identify.

International Women’s Day belongs to everyone, everywhere. Collectively, we can all help create a diverse, equitable and inclusive world. ​​

1. What does inclusion mean to you, and why?

​Accepting and welcoming anyone with the appropriate skill sets to do the job, regardless of their personal and family circumstances, gender, or race, where differences are respected and acknowledged, and personal biases are intentionally put aside, in an environment that is not toxic where individuals are valued and encouraged to thrive in their career, where they have a voice in the firm and are heard.

2. What initiatives or strategies can be implemented to increase the representation of women in leadership positions in your industry?

The composition of the board and senior management in Singapore is still very male-dominated. While there are firms which consciously include a diversity and inclusion policy, more can and should be done beyond checking the box on statistics, such as the minimum percentage of women in board and senior management positions. While tracking such statistics is needed and helpful to take a current pulse and for monitoring trends, what is more important is how that translates into concrete actions by firms to attract, retain and advance women at all levels, including in leadership and across different functions. Articulating a policy is great for formally establishing expectations and setting guidance, but is it truly internalized and implemented by the firm’s decision makers? What is the firm’s culture, and is there buy-in? At the end of the day, a policy is only as good as the people effecting it.

We need to first ask ourselves why we are doing this before we can find the appropriate solutions to best address this. Why do we want to increase women’s representation in leadership positions? Are there issues with the current status quo in the firm, and if so, why?

3. Why is International Women’s Day important to you?

It serves as a reminder and allows us to take stock and celebrate what we have achieved so far, and what we still hope to achieve, particularly for the women who matter in our lives.

4. What does being an effective ally for women look like to you?

Being supportive and understanding, at the minimum, of the various challenges faced by women, for example, during pregnancy, postpartum, breastfeeding, caring for the child during maternity leave, and the transition back to work for the mother and transition to child care where relevant, where they may be surmounted with the mental load, physical and emotional challenges of being a parent, to allow for greater flexibility in working hours (including time offs) and location of workplace, so that they may effectively contribute to both the home and workplace, where they will not be passed over for promotion or have their pay or bonus negatively affected for the work they have done for the mere and sole fact that they had not worked for the full year because they were on maternity leave.

Show genuine interest and build one another up. Celebrate one another’s successes.

5. What advice would you give to future generations to aid in a gender-equal world?

If you want change for the better, be prepared to walk the talk yourself and start first from yourself. Model the behaviour that you would want the other gender to treat you, and avoid stereotyping and hastily putting labels on yourself and others by gender.