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?"

We believe that as individuals, we are all responsible for our own thoughts and actions – at work and at home. As people leaders at work and role models at home, the impacts of our actions are amplified through our influence on others. 

In this tenth part of our series, six leaders from ADA, Carsome, Commvault, Equinix in South Asia, Shopee, and StashAway share how they are challenging gender stereotypes at work, and at home

Mayi Baviera, Country Director, ADA in Philippines

In my earlier days in advertising, I was once told to wear a skirt to a meeting because our clients were men. I’ve also been taken out of an account because I was “a tall female who wore heels” with a client who was a little insecure about his height.

I’m sure they meant well, but it is still a form of unconscious bias – a topic that is very important to me.

As a leader, I choose to challenge unconscious bias by ensuring a diverse team. From different genders, sexual preferences, backgrounds, spiritual and political beliefs, this allows us to remain sensitive, empathetic people at work and at home.

Juliet Zhu, Group CFO Carsome

The automotive industry is generally underrepresented by women and as such, the industry as a whole underserves women customers.

At Carsome, I constantly work with the leadership team to improve our recruitment funnel and promotion track for female talent. Through that, we hope to understand and serve the female population better as more and more women are key decision-makers in life and in our respective households.

We are proud that 35% of our senior positions are currently held by women, compared to 8% of the rest of the automotive industry, and we look forward to improving this number further.

Rachel Ler, Vice President and General Manager, Asia Pacific and Japan at Commvault

Be honest and be open, especially to criticism – I am a strong advocate that authentic leadership can transcend all bias, including gender. It builds trust and fosters an engaging environment for effective individual and team performance.

Breaking the silence, letting people know where I stand and being unafraid to offer a differing point of view is part of being transparent and authentic.

At Commvault, we believe in creating an all-inclusive environment no matter the gender. We’ve built a culture where we win and stumble as a team, and collaborate relentlessly with no blame. We inculcate respect, inclusiveness, kindness, and awareness, treating others as they would like to be treated. Leading in this inclusive culture with genuine care and being true to oneself can only help to bridge all stereotypes, including the gender divide.

Yee May Leong, Managing Director for Equinix in South Asia

To really challenge the status quo, leaders must communicate with honesty and transparency. Everyone can make a difference as long as they have the conviction to speak their mind and the courage to take action.

This is why we need to create more platforms that empower talented individuals – especially women – to speak, giving them the opportunity, confidence, support, coaching, and mentoring to help them flourish.

As part of the Equinix Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging (DIB) Allies Council, I’m a strong advocate for underrepresented communities within Equinix. We work together to create a workplace where employees feel ‘I am safe, I belong, and I matter’.

Dr Pan Yaozhang, Head of Data Science, Shopee

As a female leader in tech, I truly believe that women are crucial to the future of the industry. Without women, male-dominated sectors miss out on much-needed diversity that challenges norms and brings about new perspectives.

As such, I actively involve myself with Shopee’s initiatives to nurture interest and skills in tech amongst women. This includes partnerships with like-minded organisations such as Coding Girls, which play a huge role in empowering girls to pick up skills essential to the digital economy of tomorrow.

I also encourage parents to join the gender diversity conversation and cultivate interest in tech by encouraging their children - especially young women - to explore tech-related activities from an early age.

Nandini Joshi, Chief Operating Officer, StashAway

I have a boy and a girl and home plays a big role is challenging gender stereotypes. A concrete step that we took at home was that my son has chores for inside the house and my daughter has chores for outside the house. Our helper is a woman and we don't want our son to associate the tasks that she takes care of as "for women".

At work, I pay attention to words that people use in feedback on men and women. Even in positive feedback, there are stereotypes and biases to make people aware of. It is really important that we chose our vocabulary intentionally.

Photo / Provided [First row, L-R: Mayi Baviera, Juliet Zhu, and Rachel Ler. Second row, L-R: Yee May Leong, Dr Pan Yaozhang, and Nandini Joshi]

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