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Photo: Clement Goh

In exactly five words, how would you describe what you do?

Connecting business, policy, and science.

What do you see as the biggest challenge facing women in STEM today?

Women are fully capable of performing well in STEM, but studies have shown that they do not see themselves in STEM roles, let alone as leaders in STEM. Even as we drive gender equity and representation in STEM, women must demand a seat at the table and be recognised for their contributions.

Not so long ago, women scientists like Marie Curie and Rosalind Franklin laboured only to have others take credit for their work — no longer. We need male allies and women in positions of influence to create space for more women to assume their place in STEM fields.

Can you describe the specific DEI initiatives that AmCham has implemented to support and encourage women in STEM fields?

AmCham member companies are committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Our Women in Business committee supports women along their career journey across industry sectors, including those that are STEM-driven, such as healthcare, technology, and cybersecurity. The AmCham HERo Awards identify, highlight, and celebrate women and men who have made the commitment and delivered on their promise to advance women leaders and eliminate unconscious bias and outright sexism.

AmCham also partners with organisations like United Women Singapore that are active in highlighting the importance of women’s participation in STEM and run programs that help women and girls achieve their STEM career goals.

What does a perfect workplace look like to you?

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Photo: Clement Goh

The perfect workplace to me would be one in which everyone feels accepted for who they are. DEI is more than discreet categories of gender, disabilities, sexual orientation, etc. We all represent intersectionalities, which means we belong to more than one group. If we can move comfortably and easily between groups, that fosters greater understanding, which leads to inclusion that is natural and not forced.

We need to talk to one another in the workplace to hear different points of view that challenge our thinking. Groupthink can lead us over a cliff. I want to hear dissenting voices that get us to examine different scenarios before landing on the final decision.

DEI is more than discreet categories of gender, disabilities, and sexual orientation.

Hsien-Hsien Lei explains how our inherent intersectionalities can lead to natural inclusion.

What are some of the more successful DEI initiatives you’ve seen that have gone a long way toward empowering employees at workplaces?

United Women Singapore has had a number of initiatives that help companies understand some of the challenges their employees might be facing. For example, the GenSafe Workplaces program advocates for a safe, supportive, and inclusive workplace environment, bringing attention to the workplace impacts of domestic violence and abuse (DVA) with the objective of preventing them from leaving their jobs due to the spillover effect. The program also addresses workplace harassment and allyship in the workplace.

Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) are also excellent opportunities for companies to understand what employees find meaningful. Supporting ERGs shows that the company cares about employees beyond what they can deliver as part of their job scope and that when companies care about employees as whole people, people will give their whole selves at work.

Looking ahead, what are AmCham’s plans for further enhancing DEI initiatives amongst member companies?

The AmCham Equality Taskforce will continue to drive initiatives that deliver value to our members across advocacy, thought leadership, and connections. In 2024, our campaign is AmChamSG+, with the ‘plus’ serving as a reminder that we are responsible for delivering beyond expectations.

In the DEI space, we will continue to support women in business and encourage an inclusive corporate culture that includes colleagues who are LGBTQ+. But beyond that, we also need to think about how we can encourage AmCham member companies to find concrete ways to support everyone at work, no matter what group they may identify with.

When you look at the state of the world today, what gives you hope?

It gives me hope that with organisations like UWS, SHE, and AWARE, our voices are loud enough to be heard. And not only can we hear them, but the combined energy also means we can’t ignore them.