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Three ways women in business can stay ahead in 2021

Senior marketing director of DocuSign JAPAC Andrea Dixon believes Covid-19 has exacerbated the gender divide. She shares what women and men can do to achieve equity.

As part of International Women’s Day 2021, we invited Andrea Dixon, senior marketing director JAPAC, DocuSign, to pen her thoughts on women in business and tech.

This Monday marks International Women’s Day, globally celebrating women’s achievements in a call for equality. This year’s theme is ‘Choose to Challenge,’ encouraging people to point out gender inequality, and celebrate women’s achievements.

2021 is an important year for overcoming challenges. Covid-19 has impacted women in profound ways, amplifying inequalities we face each day. In a survey, 82 per cent of women said the pandemic had adversely affected their lives, citing negative impacts in mental and physical well-being and work/life balance. 60 per cent of those surveyed question whether they want to progress in their organisations when considering what they believe it will take.

While the pandemic has taken a heavy toll on the daily lives of working women and exacerbated the perpetuation of traditional gender roles, it shouldn’t be an impediment or threat to career progression. Rather, this is a wake-up call for organisations and teams to create an inclusive and safe environment that empowers women to choose to challenge status quo and enable progression.

Andrea Dixon is the senior marketing director for JAPAC in DocuSign.

Andrea Dixon is the senior marketing director for JAPAC, DocuSign.

With this in mind – and as a working mother of two young girls – here are three key lessons I’ve taken to heart over the last year for how we can support women in the workplace and contribute to a more equal Covid-19 world:

(Related: How Christine Amour-Levar is empowering women all over the world to reach their full potential)

Taking an equal approach to flexible working

The pandemic has altered attitudes towards working from home. On one hand, this might have eased time pressures on women who had to rush to work after dropping off the kids at school. While it’s tempting to think that flexible work options will be an equaliser for women, research shows that women are more likely to carry out domestic responsibilities while working flexibly. Men are more likely to put the time to prioritising their career.

This is where leading by example can help. Working for a business like DocuSign that embraces equality and has actively created benefits like the ‘DocuSign Cares’ package, which can pay for childcare during mandated ‘work from home’, gives me the confidence that other businesses can similarly support women in navigating the challenges of a world gripped by Covid-19.

Using smarter tools and technology

As a woman in tech, it’s inspiring to see how digital platforms have enabled us to adapt to a novel way of working amidst global crisis. It’s almost a year since Singapore implemented the Circuit Breaker, and the shift to hybrid working models continues to leave a profound impact – creating a world of expectations built upon constant connectivity. With technology permeating all boundaries of personal and professional life, it’s time for women to leverage on the power of flexibility that comes with it.

According to a recent study, 65 per cent of Singapore employers consider flexible working to be a key factor of work-life balance. Hence with the right technology and tools in place, women can better manage their time, remain productive and perform at work all while maintaining work-life harmony to rise above glass ceilings.

(Related: Sabrina Ho, CEO of Half The Sky, aims to achieve gender diversity in the corporate world)

Increasing women’s access to leadership roles

By supporting women to take leadership positions, we can challenge gender stereotypes and drive equality in the workplace. COVID-19 has opened the door for many people to upskill, and it’s up to businesses to ensure that they actively encourage their female employees to take part in such programmes. For example, in DocuSign APAC, females are managing half of our teams and we constantly encourage them to build on their current skill set. With a diverse workforce, any business will be better positioned to build well-rounded ideas and a richer culture.

According to research from McKinsey Global Institute, increasing gender equality and championing female empowerment in Singapore’s workforce could add S$26 billion to the country’s GDP by 2025. Now is the time to think about how we continue to deliver messages of positivity to women, as it’s clear that Covid-19 has prompted us all to think about how we can champion change in the workplace.

Opening photo by Mimi Thian on Unsplash