Much has changed in the world. We’ve taken more positive steps towards gender equality than ever. But there’s much more to be done. Bias still exists, and there should be no room for it in our world.
According to the LinkedIn Opportunity Index for 2021, 41% of women in APAC feel that they have fewer opportunities than men and 37% feel they are paid less than their male colleagues.
For our part, GrowthOps Asia is proud to be 41% female, well above the tech industry’s average of 32% (based on a BCG study of Southeast Asia’s workforce).
Some of the practices GrowthOps maintains include pay parity, removing gender-based recruiting practices, and increasing the dialogue around equity. We are also launching a comprehensive Flexible Work program that supports working parents as the live-work paradigm continues to shift.
In line with the International Women’s Day 2022 theme of “Break the Bias”, the GrowthOps Group hosted an employee-only online event titled “Courageous Self-Leaders Can Break The Bias”. Guest speaker Heidi Dening shared how courageous self-leadership can improve professional lives and break biases in a workplace.
Leading up to the event, we gave some of our leaders in Asia a platform to voice the state of gender equity and how they personally have either experienced or beaten bias. Their testimonials gave us valuable insight into the challenges and opportunities that continue to present themselves to women in the workplace. These are the main themes that surfaced from those conversations.
Building Confidence And An Undeniable Body Of Work
Many of our leaders spoke about breaking the bias through building up their own confidence and being dedicated to their craft.
“I always focus on producing results, no matter what. Ignore those distractions. Just focus on producing very, very good work, to a point where people cannot question your capability,” said Su-Ann Teh, GrowthOps Head of Digital Transformation Strategy in Kuala Lumpur.
“In the tech industry, for example, statistically, this sector is dominated by men. But as a woman, I do not focus on that idea. Instead, I focus on learning and improving my skills to prove to the leaders that I can be a major contributor or an important asset in the tech industry,” added Joycy Regala, a SEO and Analytics Manager from Manila.
“It’s really important to feel confident that you have the right to a seat at the table, that you have something meaningful to say, and something meaningful to contribute to discussions, regardless of who you're speaking to. And this confidence is something you gain throughout your career,” said Kathleen De Cruz, Associate Planning Director in Kuala Lumpur.
Life-Work Balance For Working Mothers
Working mothers were particularly affected during the work-life balance stresses during the pandemic. According to a 2021 global Financial Times survey, more than 70% of mothers said they felt it was expected that extra household duties would fall on them, a result that is 24% higher than what our male respondents reported.
“A majority of my clients and co-workers are male as the IT industry is traditionally dominated by males. So you can imagine my concern when I found out I was pregnant. I was very worried about my position, and how the company would judge my ability to work. But throughout my pregnancy, my superior has given me nothing less than full support and trust.” said Crystal Chong, Digital Transformation Consultant for Hong Kong.
“There is a general perception that women will leave their careers after becoming a mother. The pandemic has brought about a new normal with hybrid work arrangements, and this has greatly changed the way I worked. But I'm really grateful for the greater flexibility at work in ensuring that I can manage and prioritise the time I need for the various demands in life,” says Shellen Yong, Client Lead in GrowthOps Singapore
“A successful working mom is not someone who has never struggled, but the one who has never given up. So I decided to not give up on my dreams and continue my career. When I joined GrowthOps, my team was very supportive. The work culture and the leadership here made me further grow into my role. And I'm really enjoying the second stint of my career,” added Megha Digambar, Account Manager in Singapore.
Creating A Community of Leaders
A third theme was ensuring that we build a community of role models; a support network that inspires us all to break the bias.
“We just have to support each other. And we should have each other's backs and listen to each other,” says Winnie Pang, Director of Biddable Media at GrowthOps.
“We can be that woman who opens up the world for another woman. Maybe by sharing a new way of seeing things, an opportunity, a new reference of any sort, whatever it might be. And, if we can help open the world for another, just a little bit, we can change their lives,” adds Mariana Miloski, Account Director at GrowthOps, Singapore.
As someone who grew up where gender equality is still a big challenge,” shares Shaad Hamid, General Manager of GrowthOps Singapore, “I had very few career-focused women role models to look up to, as it wasn’t the norm; and I know that the barriers and challenges faced – in particular for my mother and my wife – as women, were far greater than mine. This is one reason celebrating International Women’s Day is so important — to recognise and honour the tremendous impact women around the world have every single day, but also to help remove barriers and break biases for the next generation.”
“Stay focused, be brave to do [and say] what you think is right and relevant. And that's when you will get support from other people. That little voice can help break the bias.” Chze Yin, Experience Design Lead in Kuala Lumpur adds.
“Awareness is building, and together we can make tomorrow a better place for everyone,” shares Jin Mei, User Experience Designer from Singapore.
Breaking All Bias
The final theme is that gender bias is not the only bias that continues to exist today. For women to succeed, we need to break all biases.
“The main bias, I felt, was actually ageism. Because not only was I among the very few females, I would very often be the youngest. IWD is not just about helping women. It's about achieving equality for all,” says Su-Ann Teh, Director of Digital Transformation in Kuala Lumpur.
“For me, personally, it was not only gender bias that was a challenge. I also had to face biases attached to the colour of my skin. So it put me in a position where I automatically had to work so hard to prove my worth, just to even get picked to have a seat at the table,” shared Nisha Davina Roy, Regional Head of Strategy and Content.
"In order to break the bias we need to burst the bubbles we create in our personal and professional lives. That means surrounding ourselves and listening to a diverse group of people, from different backgrounds, genders, ages, religions and ways of thinking. A biased culture is one that is less creative, less innovative, and less adaptive,” says Christopher Greenough, General Manager of GrowthOps Malaysia.
I’m proud of the culture we have built, and are continuing to build at GrowthOps. We are focused on ensuring that we are inclusive, fair and supportive to all our staff irrespective of gender, age, race or seniority.
Today remains a special day; I would like to pay tribute to the women in GrowthOps and of the world. May there be more people who will uphold and fight for gender equality for the present and future generations. Happy International Women’s Day.