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Leading by example: These 6 leaders are championing equality and equity at work

Leading by example: These 6 leaders are championing equality and equity at work

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For one leader, it starts with taking the time to understand people's circumstances and needs, then using 'doing the right thing' as a guiding principle.

"When everyone is treated the same (equality), it doesn’t consider the unique needs of various individuals or groups. But when everyone gets what they need (equity), we are then truly valuing everyone’s differences and making a proactive effort to embrace them."

This sharing by Fleur Kearns, Vice President, Human Resources, Asia Pacific, RX Global, one of our interviewees in this feature, aptly describes the relationship between equality and equity – two often-confused concepts that have gained awareness both in life and at work, in recent years. 

In this final part of a three-part feature, we continue to explore the theme of: leaders who find it necessary to embrace the concepts of both equity and equality at the workplace, and how they are finding a balance of both at the workplace. Read on for what six leaders – from Mondelēz International, Carlsberg Singapore, Shopee, RX Global, Lighthouse Canton, and AstraZeneca Singapore have to share.

Check out part one and part two, as well as our other features on the theme of DEI, here.

Narmeen Khan, Managing Director for Malaysia and Singapore, Mondelēz International

narmeen khan managing director mondelez my sg

At Mondelēz International, our principles of equity and equality go beyond mere formalities; they are central components of our culture. Our commitment to gender equality is reflected in our Malaysia office, where women comprise 65% of our workforce. We also make it a priority to uphold work-life balance and open communication within the organisation, that empowers our people to be at their best. Our initiatives such as mentoring programmes and phase-back for mothers returning to work after maternity have proven effective in promoting gender representation, job satisfaction, and productivity rates within the workplace which in turn translates to retention.

Equity is the lynchpin that binds diversity & inclusion. We can only level the playing field to cultivate a truly diverse and inclusive environment by providing an equitable workplace with equal access to resources and opportunities for all. As a leader, my focus is on cultivating this environment alongside flexibility for women to not only grow but thrive in their careers.

Caroline Moreau, General Manager, Carlsberg Singapore

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Absolutely! Carlsberg Group is invested in its employees who share the same passion to live our purpose – Brewing for a better today and tomorrow. We strongly believe in building an equal and equitable workplace that will create a strong sense of belonging among employees and trust in our culture to drive high business performance. We put in measures such as continuous DE&I surveys and focus groups to ensure that all employees are given equal opportunities regardless of their social identities and everyone is fully supported to succeed within an inclusive environment.

We roll out unconscious bias programmes and dialogues to raise awareness of the existence of unconscious bias and how to mitigate them in their everyday life.

Our leaders are held accountable for the progress of our DE&I journey, which we measure continuously via internal surveys and triennial assessments to ensure we hold ourselves to high standards.

Jemie Then, Shopee Mall Lead, Shopee Singapore

jemie then shopee

In 2017, I joined the vibrant e-commerce industry and have seen several examples of successful leadership, which have helped me develop myself as a reliable leader. I am glad that at Shopee, I am surrounded by people who are dynamic, driven, and eager to carve out their own paths to success.

As head of Shopee Mall, I learned that a competent leader has to acknowledge that each individual has unique needs and experiences as a result of their diverse backgrounds. Thus, it is critical to encourage collaboration, demonstrate empathy and compassion towards team members, and provide a wide range of relevant resources to build a stronger team.

To build a supportive workplace for women in the tech industry, I recognise the value of self-improvement and personal development. I hold regular training workshops for my team members, sharing tips on how to improve their skills and talents, and I encourage all leaders to do the same.

Fleur Kearns, Vice President, Human Resources, Asia Pacific, RX Global

fleur kearns vice president human resources asia pacific at rx global

We have seen equality—or the lack thereof—in the world around us for centuries. However, it’s only in the last three to five years that conscious awareness of having equality in the workplace became prevalent. When everyone is treated the same (equality), it doesn’t consider the unique needs of various individuals or groups. But when everyone gets what they need (equity), we are then truly valuing everyone’s differences and making a proactive effort to embrace them.

The challenge is in finding the right balance between equality and equity; here at RX, we take the time to understand people’s circumstances and needs, then use ‘doing the right thing’ as our guiding principle.

Charu Kunwar, Executive Director and Group CHRO, Lighthouse Canton

charu 24 copy

In my opinion, both equity and equality are important for an organisation to succeed. Although the two terms are often used interchangeably, they have distinct meanings. Equality is about providing equal opportunities and resources to all employees, whereas equity is about understanding the unique circumstances of each employee and then providing them opportunities and resources to level the playing field so that everyone can thrive.

Creating an equitable and equal workplace requires continuous effort and commitment from leaders and employees alike. To find a balance between equity and equality in the workplace, we have implemented measures such as flexible working arrangements, mentorship and coaching programmes, and unconscious bias training. 

Ruth Tan, Head of HR, AstraZeneca Singapore

ruth 002 2

At AstraZeneca, we take an active approach toward balancing the concepts of equity and equality.

We strongly believe in what science can do and are committed to transforming patient outcomes with our people. Our employees are our greatest strengths – they come from diverse backgrounds, with varied experiences and we recognise the unique contribution each offers.

To enable and empower our employees, we adopt a total rewards framework that offers flexibility in work arrangements and benefits. Our employees have the autonomy to arrange their work around other responsibilities, and utilise a suite of benefits, aligned with their personal needs.

In championing equality, we encourage employees to be ambassadors for an inclusive and diverse culture. Our I&D ERG comprises colleagues who are passionate about this cause and actively encourage employees to speak their mind, listen actively, and embrace differences. They also organise regular workshops on pertinent topics.

Thank you for reading our story! Please leave us a comment if you enjoy our content — take our 2023 Readers' Survey here.

Photos: Provided

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