#IWD2023: Empower all individuals to embrace equity

Gillian Tan, COO of Jebsen & Jessen Packaging, shares how her organisation is cultivating diversity and providing equitable pathways for women.
By: | March 3, 2023

As the countdown to International Women’s Day 2023 continues, HRM Asia is celebrating the inspirational women who have broken barriers and achieved incredible success in the workplace. In our special IWD 2023 coverage, we spoke to women leaders who shared their thoughts and advice on how women can succeed in the workplace, and the role they can play towards creating a more equitable and inclusive world for everyone.

In this exclusive IWD feature, HRM Asia speaks with Gillian Tan, COO of Jebsen & Jessen Packaging, as she discusses the challenges and opportunities for women in the workplace, and her advice for aspiring female leaders.

Tell us a bit about yourself and your responsibilities at Jebsen & Jessen Packaging

I am the COO at Jebsen & Jessen Packaging, assisting our CEO, Tau Siong Chui, in leading a team of 1,500 employees across Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam and Singapore. Our primary role is to drive business growth through mergers and acquisitions and identify strategic opportunities to expand market share and maintain the competitive edge. We also focus on driving talent and organisational efficiency. This includes succession planning and talent development, with an emphasis on attracting younger talent, and leading efforts to move the organisation towards digitalisation.

How has Jebsen & Jessen Packaging embraced gender equality and address challenges faced by female employees?

As the manufacturing industry is traditionally male dominated, we recognise the need to cultivate diversity and a balanced workforce. Tackling unconscious bias and gender stereotypes, objective criteria are set to ensure that rewards, evaluation, and hiring are based on merit and performance. With that as our foundation, we ensure that potential leaders are well supported through coaching and skills upgrading. Through our Learning & Development platform, which was created to promote leadership development and skills upgrading, we have several initiatives curated for growth and to provide equitable pathways for women. We also started a mentoring programme in 2022 where mentees are given valuable facetime with organisational leaders for their development.

How can technology play a role in creating equal opportunities for women in the workplace?

The increased adoption of technology has undeniably benefitted many. For example, with virtual meetings, mothers can now better balance work and family life, especially if their children need them to be physically at home, while fathers can also better support their families and ease the burden.

What inspires you to support and empower women to take up leadership roles?

As a female leader, my motivation stems from my experiences and the challenges that women face in the workplace. It is also inspiring to work with a team that shares the same values, such as equity, diversity, and inclusivity, and is committed to promoting these principles. I am passionate about supporting and empowering women to achieve their career goals by providing mentorship, coaching, and opportunities for advancement, as everyone deserves the opportunity to reach their full potential, regardless of gender.

With #EmbraceEquity being the theme of IWD this year, what is your message to organisations when it comes to creating inclusive work cultures?

Creating an inclusive work culture requires a collective effort, it is everyone’s responsibility and not solely the fight of women. Leaders have the influence to steer change and should set the tone by modelling inclusive behaviours and creating an inclusive culture that embraces equity and empowers all individuals. Embracing equity means creating a workplace that provides the same opportunities for everyone while recognising and valuing the different strengths that individuals bring. This approach is not just a social responsibility but also a great business decision. Employees feel empowered to bring their best selves to work, and a diverse workforce brings together different perspectives that drive innovation and creativity. 

International Women’s Day Features:

Creating a gender-inclusive workplace – Lee Minjoo, Head of Marketing, Deliveroo Singapore

Inclusion should be a mindset for everyone – Evelyn Tay, VP of Comms, Sustainability and Public Affairs, foodpanda

Uncovering bias the first step for inclusive workplaces – Alyssa Wang, Human Resources Director, Asia-Pacific, ADM

Ensuring equity and respect for all employees – Shylaja Bhat, Director HR Business Partner – Platform Foundation, HERE Technologies

Technology holds the key to achieving gender equity – Aisha Islam, Senior Vice President and Head of Customer Solutions Centre, Mastercard

Embracing equity and equality as cultural cornerstones – Patsy Ng, Vice President for Human Resources – Asia-Pacific, Hilton

Achieve gender equity by acknowledging the roles women play – Koh Yan Ping, CEO, Singapore Council of Women’s Organisations (SCWO)