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IWD 2024: Empowering and inspiring inclusivity for women at all levels
Fri, 8th Mar 2024

International Women’s Day is the time for everyone, not just women, to celebrate the value and importance of diversity. While this is an ongoing pursuit, each year’s theme opens the opportunity to dive deeper and rally around a key component. This year’s theme, ‘Inspire Inclusion’, reminds us how important it is to support and empower women across all stages of their lives and careers. Inspiration comes from meeting others who have been through relatable situations and learning from how they overcame challenges. So to inspire, let’s ensure we create opportunities for mutual sharing and learning.

Inspiring through sharing
It’s been brilliant to see so many initiatives bringing women together, from community groups to more mentoring opportunities in and out of organisations. I recently joined LeanIn Circle, a small women’s networking group, and have seen the value of this community already. The reality is women from all walks of life will need support at some point in their lives, and having a platform for others and myself to share experiences, challenges, vulnerability and support has been invaluable. Equally, having people challenge thinking in a safe, open-minded environment can help feed a growth mindset.

As a passionate believer in the ability to inspire through mentoring, I proudly co-lead Mentor Walks in Singapore. These bi-monthly walks provide mentoring sessions for women around the beautiful Marina Bay Sands. As a mentor, I’ve seen first-hand how this has encouraged mentees to build each other up, share advice and invite each other to networking events – a true reflection of inspiring inclusion, and provides me so much hope for the future.

Filling the gap to support women in senior leadership
A key gap in diversity is the lack of support for women in leadership roles. It may seem that once women reach a level of seniority, they’ve developed the skills and tools to tackle the challenges of their role. However, this is often far from the truth.

As women take on more senior positions, the challenges they face change and often become more complex. When an employee goes through mentoring earlier in their career, the focus is on them and how they can progress. However, as they become senior managers, directors and beyond, they need to focus not only on self-improvement but also on the success of their team and managing senior executives. Juggling the interests and needs of various stakeholders comes with its unique set of challenges, and when paired with imposter syndrome, it can be especially tough. The path of progression for a senior leader is also different, as they may be looking to expand sideways to more business functions rather than upwards.

I’ve been fortunate to participate in an initiative aimed at women in leadership – Veeam’s Women in Green Elevate program. The year-long program began in August 2023 and provides a framework for mid-career women to progress their careers. It includes being coached by an executive leader, support from a third-party trainer, and their coach connecting them with another senior executive that they wouldn’t otherwise communicate with. My coachee inspires me to do more to support women, as the growth and positivity are incredibly rewarding – for both of us.

Strengthening allyship through understanding
Throughout my career, I’ve witnessed the delightful evolution from the default perception of women backstabbing women to supporting each other in the workforce. This has helped women become more confident and empowered. To continue progressing, we must expand beyond the female community and enlist allies to inspire inclusion. This includes creating opportunities for men to not just join the discussion, but take action, and realise the benefits of a diverse workforce and community.

As we take the opportunity to celebrate inclusivity on International Women’s Day, let’s remember to extend our efforts beyond the day and continue to foster supportive communities for women across all stages of their careers.