#IWD2020: Women need to make themselves visible and heard
In this exclusive IWD feature, we speak to Alice Thien, Vice President, Human Resources, Wirecard APAC to get her thoughts on the challenges and opportunities for women in the workplace, and her advice for women who aspires to be leaders.
Tell us a little bit of yourself and your career so far
I currently reside in Auckland, New Zealand and am a mother of two. As the Vice President of Human Resources at Wirecard APAC, I work closely with the regional HR team to engage our employees, upskill our workforce and recruit new talent to better serve our customers. I graduated with a degree in veterinary but started my career in operations and administration. Back then, I handled all back-office duties, including HR. With coaching and guidance from my mentors and bosses, I was given the opportunity to specialize and develop my career further in HR.
What are the challenges that women face in the workforce today?
I feel that as opportunities increase in the workplace, not just for women, so too have the challenges. Long working hours, frequent business travels and having to have razor-sharp focus at work at all times are common expectations. But the age-old expectation that women are the nurturers of the household puts additional pressure on them. Female employees tend to find themselves torn between family and work and having to address their feelings of guilt and doubt before they can find happiness at work.
Are we seeing enough women in leadership roles today? If not, why so?
Even though businesses and financial institutions are increasingly encouraging and investing in women to take on leadership roles, women remain heavily underrepresented in leadership positions in the region, based on a report by McKinsey Global Institute. The relative lack of women in top positions in organizations could be attributed to factors such as the lack of education opportunities, family duties and also the absence of female role models. I feel that there is so much more that can be done to enable aspiring female leaders to take on more leadership roles in companies with more mentorship and upskilling schemes.
What can be done to groom more women to take up leadership roles?
Companies should make continuous efforts to celebrate women’s achievements at work, provide women mentorship programs, trainings and ensure equal opportunities are promoted in the workplace. Promoting diversity and inclusion across our business from engineers to analysts to customer relationship managers is a key focus at Wirecard. Initiatives like Wirecard’s Women in Innovation aims to empower female founders in the technology sectors through promotion, access to business networks, and to potential future partners. The program brought 20 female start-up founders to select European conferences in 2019 to meet and network with like-minded individuals in the industry and provided a platform for them to promote their start-ups online and on-site.
What is your organization doing to address the issue of gender equality?
At Wirecard, we engage in competitive hiring, which means we hire all our employees based on their track record and experiences. We do our best to create a work environment that suits the needs of the current workforce. As the flexibility in working arrangements improves (e.g. working hours and childcare leave), the barriers for success are removed and our entire workforce is encouraged to focus purely on outcomes. We ensure that we reward based on merit and have salary benchmarking to ensure our employees are paid within the industry range, no matter the gender.
What advice would you give to women who aspire to be leaders?
As aspiring women leaders, you should be confident that you will succeed based on your merits and contributions to the organization. Take pride in being yourself and constantly seek opportunities to upgrade your skills. You should also look out for opportunities to make yourself visible and heard.
International Women’s Day Features:
Possibilities endless for women in the workplace – Jeanne Achille, Founder and CEO of The Devon Group
Organisations can do more to support women – Joy Koh, Head of Consulting APAC at Alexander Mann Solutions
We need to challenge stereotypes of women – Vivian Chua, Vice-President, Singapore Managing Director, HP
More needs to done to recognise women – Roselin Lee, Vice President of Human Resources, Shiseido Asia Pacific
Mentorship key to grooming women leaders – Giet Koh, Head of Account Management at Deliveroo Singapore