Accredify Digest: The Women of Accredify on International Women’s Day 2022
Accredify Digest is a series of ideas, opinions, and observations from Accredify’s employees. Hiring a highly invested team also means welcoming passionate voices that need to be heard. Find out what the brains behind Accredify think about strategy, tech, operations, security, and culture in this series.
Today is International Women’s Day, a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. In the spirit of International Women’s Day, the amazing women of Accredify have shared their thoughts about what International Women’s Day means to them, how their experiences have been as women in tech, and what can be done to improve gender equality in the workplace.
What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
Jing Yi (Chief Operating Officer): A celebration of women overcoming the challenges they have faced in past generations and breaking stereotypes. International Women’s Day is about equality.
Elizabeth Chee (Head of Enterprise & Government Sales): It is a day to:
- Celebrate how far we have come as a society to levelling the playing field for women in society at large.
- Honour all the incredible achievements women from all walks of life have accomplished to date.
- Commemorate female role models who have paved the way for current and future generations of women to get access to opportunities such as education, labor mobility and financial independence.
Esther (Software Engineer): Living in this day and age, it is easy to forget that just one or two generations ago, women are expected to get married, have children, and take care of the house. Women were not expected, or encouraged, to have financial independence or fulfilling careers. International Women’s Day reminds me to be grateful to the women before me who have fought to change these past stereotypes and who have fought for the equal treatment of women.
How important is it for women to lift each other up and what does that mean to you?
Jing Yi: Very important! Even though the world has changed for the better and have come to treat women more equally, it is still important for us to support, encourage, and celebrate each other, so that we can continue achieving the great things that we have managed to accomplish so far. It’s also important to accept that there’s not only one definition of what it means to be a successful woman. Success looks different to every individual, and to every woman. We have to celebrate all women – even those who are living successful lives that may not necessarily fit your definition of what success looks like.
Liz: Given the patriarchal society we are still living in, it is ever more imperative for women to continue lifting each other up. Life is already incredibly challenging for women with the inherent bias they face on a daily basis regardless of their social backgrounds, educational levels, occupational circumstances and marital status. While there are increasingly good men out there supporting women to reduce the prevalent gaps, we are still far from the ideal state of gender equity. When women help women, magic happens.
Why do we need more women in leadership?
Jing Yi: Leaders plan and execute policies that have far reaching implications on individuals under their leadership. Whether it’s planning work policies, or a country’s laws, it’s important to have the female perspective in leadership. Women and men experience life differently. We have different needs and requirements, and a room full of men may result in policies that do not truly account for the female experience. For example, issues like the management of childbirth, maternity leave, and flexible work arrangements, are all very real considerations that may not be taken into account during policymaking if there isn’t a woman in the decision making room.
What do you think is the biggest issue facing women in your role in the workplace?
Jing Yi: As part of Accredify’s management team, I can vouch that in Accredify, we are all aligned that respect for an individual is non-negotiable. We take respect and empathy seriously and expect that all individuals treat each other fairly regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, age, and so on. As such, I have not faced any issues in the workplace for the reason that I’m a woman.
In past experiences, I have met people who assume you cannot do something just because you’re a woman – like be a good leader.
Liz: I have faced a variety of challenges ranging from misogyny, lewd comments in a professional environment, condescending and gaslighting attitudes, having to work three times as hard to prove myself for the same role versus a man, both men and sadly also women discounting my credibility because I looked “younger than my actual age”, people who expected me to be the typical demure Asian woman, people who tried to intimidate me because I am a woman, people who tried to lowball me in salary negotiations for the same role versus a man, and a double discrimination being a woman and a person of colour when I was working in countries where I was a racial minority. Regardless, as one ages, one gets wiser and more savvy in handling these forms of discrimination and challenges. What doesn’t break us, only makes us stronger.
What do you think is the biggest issue facing women your age in the workplace?
Jing Yi: As a young woman, society gives you this pressure where you feel obliged to have to choose between having a career and a family, and there isn’t an option for both. Well, there is.
Esther: I think for mature women around my age, the biggest issue is staying relevant though I believe this is not an issue that is specific to women. It is true that as we age, our bodies and minds are not the same as when we were in the prime of our youth. I feel that staying relevant and keeping up with the latest professional developments can be challenging for women at my age, especially if they have family commitments.
For Esther, how has your experience juggling being a mother and having a job been?
Esther: It is not easy juggling parenting and work, especially during the pandemic. It was important to share family responsibilities with my husband. The additional help that came from my other family members during the pandemic was also very appreciated.
I have found that that managing time and expectations helps to reduce the stress of juggling family and work. For example, I realised that while it is important to help my children in their studies and encourage them to acquire skills, having realistic goals and expectations reduces stress for everyone in the family.
Over time, workplaces have also become more empathetic to working mothers, with more and more companies adopting flexible work arrangements compared to when I started work almost 20 years ago! And also with the government supporting childcare leave and other policies meant to help working parents, it has become much easier to juggle both parenting and work.
How can we ensure workplace gender equality and fairness?
Jing Yi: At Accredify, we absolutely do not consider gender as part of our hiring criteria, and we never categorise a role as a male or female role. We are also strict about never asking personal questions related to gender during the hiring process, e.g. when are you getting married?
When it comes to our policies, we do our best to provide both male and female parents the flexibility and support that they need to cope with both family and work. We do this by offering a flexible leave policy which includes maternity and paternity leave. This is because at Accredify, we believe that everybody should have the flexibility to own their time and tasks, and arrange their work in a way that is most efficient and effective for themselves.
Oh, we also have a dedicated breastfeeding room!
What is your advice or message to women thinking about their careers?
Liz: With a fast-aging population and longer life expectancy rates, we will often find ourselves in need of making a career decision resulting from a variety of circumstances. Depending on one’s age and phase in life, it can often be daunting to make that first step into the “unknown”.
Whether you are:
- a person looking for career development and growth within or outside of your current organization,
- a stay-at-home-mom (SAHM) looking to rejoin the workforce,
- a professional who is temporarily out of the workforce to tend to family caregiving needs, or
- a person who is tired of being in the same profession for several years and is looking for a career transition
Always take time to network and talk to as many people as you can to give yourself enough perspectives to make an informed decision. Build the relationship before you ever need it. Be helpful to your network and pay it forward. Never be afraid to take that brave step forward and never stop learning regardless of your age. Lifelong learning, unlearning and re-learning will be the best guarantees to staying active, relevant and versatile in the job market.
Esther: Don’t be afraid to try new roles when you are younger. And if you have a strong passion for something, give yourself a chance to pursue it if there’s an opportunity – so that you don’t regret not trying!
Here’s wishing all women an empowering and meaningful International Women’s Day!