March 8th marks International Women's Day in countries all around the world. It is a social movement where collective action is made to shed light on gender disparities and uphold equality.
Gender equality remains a dismally slow work in progress, especially in Asia Pacific and the Middle East region. In addition, annual reports by the World Economic Forum continue to highlight glass ceilings and existing wage gaps in Asia.
While statistics and figures continue to amplify the significant barriers and societal expectations, we are not here to benchmark a woman’s success by their economic status or ability to fulfil multiple responsibilities. In fact, it is still possible to redefine what it means to achieve financial stability and live a ‘successful’ life.
Being a role model to your children
While working mothers often struggle to balance work and family commitments, we spoke to the mothers based in our Singapore office who were able to utilise the flexible working arrangements SThree is able to offer.
And how exactly do they go about balancing their career and responsibilities at home?
“Leaving your first born and getting back to work is never an easy step. But I am lucky enough to have a supportive husband who has helped make this easier. The way I juggle between these dual roles is to try and spend as much of quality time as I can once I am home with my little boy. I also try to start my day earlier so that I can complete my tasks at work earlier. I am a big advocate of flexi time and working from home as these definitely help working mothers a lot.” – Anisha Randhay
“The struggle is real – to be a career woman, a mother, a wife and the impossible task of still looking your best. This is why I’m thankful for my domestic helper. The house is still in proper order because of her! Nevertheless, having a career gave me the capabilities of being financially independent and the ability to contribute towards a community in my workplace with my strengths as an office manager. Although I look forward to spending quality time out with my children each weekend, I’m also glad that I’m able to pamper myself and my kids with something new from time to time.” – Huzie Jasni
“SThree has provided a flexible working environment and this is especially important and necessary for me. Being a single mother to 2 primary school children, it is a time where they need constant attention on various areas like their school work, mental and emotional well-being. Thankfully, with our work-from-home flexibility option, it has provided a platform for me to manage my children and at the same time, fulfil my responsibilities at work. Being a working mother, I am grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the working world and connect with people in different environments, while still being able to provide for my children and more importantly, a role model for them.” – Jorin Ng
Moulding a career with purpose
Discovering your passion can allow one to not only create a sense of purpose and direction but also has a knock-on effect in inspiring the people around you. We spoke to Jeanilyn Laurence, CSR enthusiast from our Tokyo office, who embeds passion to give back to society through the little efforts she make daily despite her busy schedule.
“Last December I had the chance to celebrate Christmas with 24 orphans at the House of Sarang, Taguig City, Manila. It’s an orphanage and kids there need support to finish their education and even more motivation to go through every single day.”
“During my time there, we engaged in various fun activities and shared a few talks that have hopefully inspired them. One boy asked me “Where’s Japan?” and when I showed him the photos of Skytree, he shared, “I will study hard and someday work in Japan”. I was amazed at his comment and it sparked joy in me at the same time as it made me realise that despite the difficult predicament that he was in, children like him still have a dream.”
“I am also a sponsor for Children International, Kansas. Being part of the CSR team for our Japan office has given me the chance to help my country , inspire them and never give up no matter how hard life is in the Philippines. I am planning for 2 more projects this year so I’m excited to see how else I can contribute to those in need!” – Jeanilyn Laurence.
Whilst being involved in volunteer work, she also apply her people-skills by getting involved in tech meet-ups as part of a team-player in Computer Futures, part of the larger SThree group. Engaging with her customers on a regular basis through events allowed her to make meaningful connections with them, cementing a strong bond that money cannot buy.
Maintaining a healthy work-life balance
Multiple research have been done all over the world and it is proven that work productivity often increases with regular work-outs. Amy Jacquemart, a work-out enthusiast is part of a ‘running club’ that was formed in the Australia office recently. It was something that people in the office looked forward to, and has certainly pumped up the energy in Australia on top of the boot-camps that are ongoing. Although it was slightly male dominated to start with, Amy was able to use this initiative to encourage more women to join them in balancing their work whilst maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
“Finding the time to work out during the week can seem difficult when working full-time, particularly during busy periods at work. Having said this, I ensure to work out either before or during work and set it as a priority for me. This is because I see a personal correlation between regular exercise and performance at work such as increased concentration, motivation and efficiency. I also realise the importance of maintaining a balanced, healthy lifestyle for both physical and mental benefits.”
“SThree also realises the importance of ensuring their people maintain a healthy lifestyle and have offered flexibility for those who wish to go to the gym during lunch hours. As an example, we are able to take an hour and a half out of our day for our lunchbreak when we go to the gym. There is also no time constraint on this so we can leave for the gym at 11am or 2pm if we wish.”
“This flexibility plays a crucial part in allowing me to find the time to work out during the week and I am not sure I would attend the gym as regularly without this flexibility. This means I am still able to attend the gym if I have an early morning or lunchtime phone calls or meetings scheduled, which is great.” – Amy Jacquemart
Breaking the glass ceiling in your career
‘We need all hands on deck, and that means clearing hurdles for women and girls’, said Michelle Obama.
This applies strongly in the Middle East, where gender stereotypes are perpetually impeding the growth of senior women, and gender gap is at its widest. Having females to hold leadership positions are linked to improved decision-making, smarter risk management, and better financial performance – and we recognise this here at SThree.
Featuring Zulaiha Careem, a senior leader in the Dubai office, she shared her views on how she has rose up the ranks, especially within a male dominated culture in the UAE.
“I think it’s imperative to have input from women in senior positions to give well-rounded perspective and vital strategic input for the future of the business. If a truly inspiring meritocratic environment is to be felt in a corporate environment, it is essential to have a basis of equality – which means a gender balance in senior positions and at board level."
"Being away for maternity leave and returning to work, it is difficult at times to manage, being a first time mother and especially as an expat. However, I am truly grateful to my manager who was very supportive and understanding. Such support that the company provides made it a lot easier for me to balance my work and responsibilities at home.” – Zulaiha Careem
Gender equality is widely written about, but the question is what can we do more about it? If you are inspired by the women in Sthree and how they have “Balanced for Better”, or would like to be part of our team, do contact us at on our SThree Careers page. Alternatively, do also visit our LinkedIn page for more updates from us!