#IWD2024: Creating inclusive societies within workplaces

Toyin Ope of Visa shares the importance of teams inherently understanding inclusivity to inspire it in the workplace.
By: | March 8, 2024

International Women’s Day 2024 is celebrating the achievements of women in the workplace and across all aspects of their lives. With the theme of “Inspire Inclusion,” IWD 2024 aims to showcase how women in the workplace can help to widen the gaps between barriers that affect women and minorities within the workplace. In our special IWD 2024 coverage, HRM Asia spoke with women leaders to gain insights on how women can inspire inclusion within their workplace, and the role their organisations can play to create a more equitable and inclusive world for all.

Toyin Ope describes herself as a “distinguished inclusion and diversity leader” who has consistently demonstrated her ability to harness the power of organisations to make a positive social impact that delivers sustainable business value. Having worked in regions like North America, Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa, she currently serves as the Head of Inclusion and Diversity, Asia Pacific at Visa. 

What does the theme of this year’s IWD, “Inspire Inclusion” mean to you? What part of the theme resonates with you as an ambassador of your organisation?

Toyin Ope: The theme of ‘Inspire Inclusion’ means we all have a collective responsibility to create inclusive societies. It starts with each of us understanding and embedding equity and accessibility into our thoughts, systems, and policies, building a world where everyone has the opportunity to thrive. I believe that everyone has a role to play to inspire Inclusion. To me, this theme creates an opportunity for everyone to lean in and play a part in the change we all want to see.

How can more organisations “Inspire inclusion” within themselves to promote better, more efficient leaders and employees and reward them for their work?

Toye Opin: Visa has a strong set of leadership principles, which we expect everyone to demonstrate. That is why we talk about them often, have embedded them into our performance review process and ensure they are visually represented in our offices. We also use our recognition programme to recognise colleagues who have demonstrated inclusivity and enable their managers to reward them with gift store points.   

Within our leadership principles, we have included specific inclusive actions to set the expectation that we treat others with respect, communicate openly and honestly, and always assume good intent. We have found that by being specific about the behaviours we want to see, we are fostering a culture of accountability, and of recognising and rewarding those behaviours.

What are some strategies your organisation has in place that befits the theme of inclusivity?

Toye Opin: Visa has implemented specific requirements to measure and increase diversity at all levels of our organisation. One fantastic example of how we are increasing diversity in our technology team is our Visa Returnship Programme, which is a six-month upskilling work-based programme for women who have previously worked in the technology field and taken a career break.

Our latest cohort recently graduated in Bangalore, and I am really pleased that we were able to offer most of our graduates permanent roles within our software development and test engineering teams. In partnership with The Asia Foundation, this is an excellent example of solving a business need while also creating a positive impact in the communities that we serve.

We also provide all employees flexible work options, generous parental leave, accessible office spaces, and technology tools that enable everyone to contribute to meetings and discussions.

International Women’s Day 2024 Features:

Why inclusivity is the lifeblood of Linklaters – Laure de Panafieu, Asia Head of Employment, Linklaters Singapore

Cultivating inclusivity and diversity for women at work – Karen Ng, Head, Digital Solutioning, ENGIE South-East Asia

Celebrating female employees’ achievements Koren Wines, Managing Director, Xero Asia