As part of our series of 22 stories under the overarching theme of #ChooseToChallenge, the team at Human Resources Online reached out to about 70 leaders (women and men - because we believe men play a part too) to ask "What is one action you are taking at work, and at home, to challenge the existing gender stereotypes?"

In this 18th story in our series, leaders from DSM, Eaton, Micro Focus, Poly, Quincus, and Rackspace Technology share the following:

  • Choosing to challenge certain norms and actively embracing the value of being courageous to have difficult conversations.
  • Tackling the underlying cognitive biases and societal expectations.
  • Empowerment is fundamental in overturning these deeply entrenched stereotypes.
  • Asking and expecting to get a positive response.
  • Fostering an environment of teamwork, growth and work-life balance.
  • Internal advocacy groups to promote unity, support, and growth in an environment of trust, freedom, and accountability.

Christina Celestine, Director of Communications and External Affairs APAC / China, DSM

Diversity and inclusion work in tandem with our Culture Compass – our North Star in outlining who we are and what we stand for at DSM.

As a female leader, I #ChooseToChallenge certain norms and actively embrace the value of being courageous to have difficult conversations, allowing us to call out non-inclusive behaviour.

This means that we take responsibility to provide equitable opportunities for all genders, rewarding equal pay for equal work, and creating a diverse and inclusive work environment free from harassment and bias.

I firmly believe that every voice matters. By collaborating, we can create brighter lives for all by delivering the highest value for our business, society, and wellbeing.

Isabel Chong, Country Manager, Southeast Asia, Eaton

It all starts with tackling underlying cognitive biases and societal expectations through ongoing dialogue.

At Eaton, we regularly discuss what can be done to advocate for better representation in the industry through Women Adding Value at Eaton (WAVE), an internal resource group for female employees.

I also encourage women to be more confident about their skill sets and raise their hands for roles that allow them to grow.

Our mission at Eaton is to build a better, sustainable future through power management, and I believe that this can only be achieved when we embrace all colleagues as well as their unique insights and capabilities - regardless of gender, ethnicity or background.

Stephen McNulty, President Asia Pacific and Japan at Micro Focus

As a father of two girls, I make sure that I have regular conversations with them about their passions and dreams. From talking to them, it’s great to see that gender equality is such a major focus in school these days, giving hope for a truly gender-equal world as this young generation grows up.

This is the same important conversation I often have at work with female peers who have chosen to pursue a career in IT despite facing challenges involving gender stereotypes.

I’ve learnt that empowerment is fundamental in overturning these deeply entrenched stereotypes around the role of women in society.

Driving empowerment at work requires the provision of long-term support. That’s why Micro Focus has launched various initiatives to inspire meaningful conversations and hopefully create real changes in perspective. For example, our SHINE network—launched several years ago—aims to unite and promote dialogue within the organisation and help women reach their full potential. Personally, I participate as a mentor and have taken part in workshops led by inspiring women coaches and business leaders.

Micro Focus and I share a vision of empowering women and men equally, and this International Women’s Day reminds us that we need to do more for an inclusive world.

Mei Lin Low, Head of Global Theatre Product Marketing, Poly

As the saying goes, “Don’t Ask, Won’t Get”. Therefore, I ASK, and expect a positive response.

At home, I ask my husband to adjust his schedule to share in household and child-care responsibilities, instead of me taking them on by default. At the office, I encourage married female colleagues to do the same.

I also ask male co-workers to take advantage of Poly’s flexi-work culture, which provides flexibility to help with their family responsibilities. At the end of the day, whether man or woman, equal partnerships at home goes hand in hand to support equality in the office.

Katherina Lacey, Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer, Quincus

For the last few years, we have seen more women in senior leadership positions contributing to steering the company culture and upending the traditional "supply chain industry" branding - and the trend is here to stay.

Whether you are moving from a different industry or coming back from a long break, I believe that things can work out as long as you have perseverance and an ever-learning mentality.

Over at Quincus, we set up Women@Quincus, a mentorship group designed to promote teamwork and mentorship among women employees, regardless of their nationality and background.

My team and I are looking to foster an environment of teamwork, growth and work-life balance that strengthens the camaraderie and synergy among the Quincus team.

Jasmine Ee, Director, Marketing , Asia, Rackspace Technology

Rackspace Technology has internal advocacy groups, such as POWER, Professional Organisation for Women’s Empowerment at Rackspace.

The group runs programming throughout the year to promote a community where women thrive and drive greatness at Rackspace through unity, support, and growth in an environment of trust, freedom, and accountability.

It is important for us to see female voices across the company, as well as external representatives in the media of tech roles, we’re lucky to have many female advocates globally and locally in Rackers, such as APJ CTO, Emma Pudney. We also have regional male advocates in our APJ Executive leadership Team who work as Male Champions of Change to support women in business in leading change.

Photo / Provided [First row, L-R: Christina Celestine, Isabel Chong, and Stephen McNulty. Second row, L-R: Mei Lin Low, Katherina Lacey, and Jasmine Ee.]

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