#IWD2024: Inclusivity in the workplace as exemplified by leaders

Shyn Yee Ho-Strangas of PropertyGuru discusses why inclusivity must include leadership, and how they work hand in hand.
By: | March 12, 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.

With over two decades of experience in enterprise SaaS and marketplace technology, Shyn Yee Ho-Strangas, Managing Director, Data and Software Solutions (DSS), PropertyGuru Group, is responsible for driving the vision, strategy, and execution of innovative and game-changing data and software solutions and services (DSS), with a focus on enterprise customers in the property sector. 

Ho-Strangas’ work and deep domain knowledge, which she has cultivated for over two decades have helped her to become a successful leader. At her current position at PropertyGuru, Ho-Strangas is tasked to identify and accelerate opportunities to pursue PropertyGuru’s quest to build a property trust platform in South-East Asia.

Ho-Strangas is also passionate about social causes such as gender equality, economic empowerment, access to education, and sustainability, and outside of PropertyGuru, she serves as a Non-Executive Board Member and Chair of the Fundraising Committee of the Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE), the leading gender equality advocacy group in Singapore. She is also a fellow at the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre and frequently participates as a speaker at industry

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?

Shyn Yee Ho-Strangas: The theme “Inspire Inclusion” underscores the importance of celebrating diversity and fostering an environment that creates fair opportunities for all. This is particularly key in sectors like technology and real estate, where diverse perspectives fuel innovation and ensure products serve diverse communities. The initiative of supporting and empowering women into leadership and business resonates deeply with me. Throughout my career, I have been fortunate to benefit from the guidance and advocacy of mentors, allies and advocates – both male and female – who have invested in my professional growth and championed my success. Their unwavering support inspires me to pay it forward.

Allyship plays a pivotal role in ensuring equitable opportunities for women to pursue greater leadership responsibility and realise their full potential. Fostering a culture of inclusion calls for genuine long-term commitment from all levels of the organisation, starting with leaders who lead by example and actively champion diversity and inclusion initiatives.

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

Shyn Yee Ho-Strangas: The power of role-modelling cannot be understated in encouraging more women to enter the industry and advance in their careers. As an example, last year, we introduced the first Power Women award at the Asia Real Estate Summit to honour female trailblazers in the industry. Such accolades recognise and celebrate outstanding female leaders in real estate, showcasing the positive impact of diversity, equity, and inclusion across our sector.

In the workplace, leaders can cultivate an environment where underrepresented individuals feel empowered to voice their opinions and contribute to decision-making processes, while also acknowledging their contributions to provide visibility. Additionally, deliberate efforts can be made to address systemic issues and eliminate unconscious bias from initiatives ranging from the hiring and promotion process, to leave benefits and flexible work arrangements, to ensure fair access to opportunities regardless of gender or background.

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

Shyn Yee Ho-Strangas: At PropertyGuru, we emphasise the alignment of representations and policies to ensure inclusivity. From a representation standpoint, we have a female-to-male ratio of 65:35 among employees, 50:50 among senior leadership, and women comprising one-third of the Board of Directors. The organisation is also represented by over 31 nationalities.

Given this diversity, it is essential that our policies reflect our commitment to inclusivity. Beyond prioritising flexible work arrangements, we have also implemented inclusive leave policies tailored to individual needs. For example, regardless of marital status, all Gurus will be entitled to maternity and paternity leave. Paternity leave will also be for the same duration as maternity leave. This is also similar to our childcare and adoption leave, which is available to all Gurus, regardless of gender or marital status. We also ensure that we attract and hire a diverse mix of talent. For example, we leverage AI-powered gender decoders to ensure our job descriptions encourage a wider applicant pool, and we ensure a diverse panel of interviewers in the interview process as well.

READ MORE: #IWD2024: Mental health a keystone in employee benefits

For us, DEI is not just an initiative, it is a strategic imperative. Any business that focuses on DEI is bound to improve its performance due to a positive employee experience that is created by a work environment where employees can do their best work while they feel valued, feel they are treated equally, and feel a sense of belonging with their peers.

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

Creating inclusive societies within workplaces – Toyin Ope, Head of Inclusion and Diversity, Asia Pacific at Visa

The future of technology is diverse and inclusive – Dr Shang Gao, Global Education Asia Pacific Director, Amazon Web Services (AWS)