#IWD2023: Technology holds the key to achieving gender equity

Aisha Islam, Senior Vice President and Head of Customer Solutions Centre, Mastercard, shares insights on empowering women in the workplace.
By: | March 7, 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 Aisha Islam, Senior Vice President and Head of Customer Solutions Centre, South-East Asia, Mastercard, 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 Mastercard

For over 20 years, I have built a career in the finance sector in product innovation spanning different geographies. Currently, I am Senior Vice President and Head of Customer Solutions Centre for Mastercard in South-East Asia where I focus on driving growth and developing customised solutions for our customers across this region. I am also the Global Co-Lead of the largest business resource group at Mastercard, the Women’s Leadership Network, where I champion leadership and inclusion for women.

How has Mastercard embraced gender equality and address challenges faced by female employees?

We have implemented several programmes to foster the next generation of women leaders. Internally, our Women’s Leadership Network provides empowerment tools for women leads to reach their greatest potential. We have also ensured equal pay for equal work, meaning that women globally at Mastercard earn one dollar to every one dollar earned by men. Our employees have been serving as mentors in our Girls4Tech programme that inspires young girls to build science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) skills. We have also launched Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs that provides data insights into challenges women business owners face.

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

We believe technology has the power and ability to build a better future for everyone. By deploying the right technology, organisations are able to provide access to better rights, economics, opportunities, and skill development that help women feel empowered, network and seize opportunities. Using technology, we are taking the lead in reshaping the way our world is designed, coded, and constructed, for the future of work and society as a whole. By championing the advancement of transformative technology, we can create equal opportunity and true gender equity.

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

Time has taught me the importance of being brave, not perfect. This gave me the courage to make pivotal decisions and not have the fear of failure hold me back, whether that was moving across roles, organisations or even geographies. It is the same motivation that gives me the confidence to use my voice meaningfully, such as providing mentorship or career advice, or in standing up for advancement opportunities or getting a seat at the table. I strongly believe that by banding together today, we become—and help others become—emerging leaders tomorrow.

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

Women are catalysts for growth, innovation, and social change. Unfortunately, too much of our world was designed without women in mind, and without women involved. As business leaders, we must first acknowledge this to better understand issues women face. Next, we must provide safe spaces where all employees, both women and men, feel empowered to have open dialogues on these issues. This is how organisations and leaders start fostering inclusion within their own teams and that goes a long way in making real impact. 

International Women’s Day Features:

Empower all individuals to embrace equity – Gillian Tan, COO, Jebsen & Jessen Packaging

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

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)