This article originally appeared on Nielsen.com.
Gender equality, work-life balance, and personal improvement: These were the aspirational visions that arose during the International Women’s Day panel discussion that took place at Nielsen Singapore’s office on International Women’s Day. The Women In Nielsen (WIN) Employee Resource Group-hosted discussion was centered on the topic of #balanceforbetter, this year’s International Women’s Day theme, which is founded on the idea that balance drives a better working world.
During the session, an influential panel shared frank and humorous experiences from their business and personal endeavours, and ultimately affirmed that diversity and inclusion are integral to Nielsen’s DNA. Jyoti Jain (Analytics Lead, APAC, Johnson & Johnson) highlighted that men and women should not be pressured to conform to stereotypical gender roles in the workplace, and recruiters should exclude social demographic traits as hiring factors. This was supported by Lesley Ngai (Country Manager, Singapore and Malaysia, Tickled Media), who asserted that gender standards result in individuals being discredited for their unique personalities.
Kelli Nardis (Head of Marketing Science Analytics and Partnerships, Singapore, Facebook) encouraged our associates to invite women, minority group members or social introverts to speak out in the corporate space, especially when they detect that these people have something important to say. Chaitan Rao (Marketing Director, Singapore, Friesland Campina) stated that work environments need to be conducive for working moms, where firstly, they can join the firm easily, and secondly, they can thrive and be respected as efficient and capable workers in their own right. Adding to this, Karen Chan (SVP of Digital, APMEA, C&J Clarks) advocated that corporations need to recognize women not just as workers, but also as mothers. Organizations and governments should also re-skill moms after long-term maternity leaves to equip them to remain competitive in a rapidly changing digital workforce, while allowing her to spend more time with her family without shame.
Encouraging men to be better partners at home
When mothers are competent both at work and at home, they may be strapped for time, energy, and resources. Rao, our sole male panelist, added that husbands need to be role models to their children and family, by respecting their wives and allowing them to live full lives, through paying attention to both their wives’ career and non-career aspirations. Deliberate efforts should also be invested to ensure that unconscious biases do not come into play.
The panelists also collectively agreed that the language of motherhood should be changed to include fatherhood, where equal parental leave can be implemented for fathers as mothers.
Enabling women to maintain a visible and professional corporate image
Career disruptions may occur at different phases of a woman’s life when she works from home to nurse her children, or handle other family commitments. Chan stressed this, and also highlighted the importance of leading by actions—as long as one is able to deliver the output and contribute to corporate conversations, working from home should not be frowned upon. Competency and responsibility in what we do are thus core values. When this is the case, increased flexibility to work from home should be encouraged.
Men as allies in the gender equality fight
At the end of the day, male champions need to be equipped for change, and be involved in the woman agenda by being part of equality conversations. This rallying cry was emphasized by Rao when he affirmed that in the business context, corporations can encourage a culture where it is comfortable for men to talk about gender parity, so that men can openly express their views and better understand women’s dilemmas with their unique social circumstances as a backdrop.
The panel was followed by a fireside chat that focused on in-depth experiences in consumer understanding and socio-industrial developments. During the session, Dominique Barral, board member of Catalyx, held a dynamic and candid conversation with our associates, offering tips and tricks about empowering women to be more confident about themselves, boosting health and wellness and creating gender neutral office spaces. Barral rounded up by attesting that it is crucial for companies to develop a culture of equality and inclusion that supports various opinions, skills and backgrounds, and where social differences are embraced. This enables associates to better understand clients’ diverse backgrounds, and their needs and wants in context.
Ultimately, gender equality is crucial for business growth and successful economies, and sustaining a workplace environment that values the talents and perspectives of women is a role that we all play a part in. As a data and technology firm, Nielsen is able to gain deep insights about women’s motivations—to listen to their opinions and perspectives, and understand what is important to them. A glance back at our Consumer Confidence Surveys over the past five years shows women’s increasing confidence and influence. Let’s continue working together to march toward a #BalanceForBetter!