Telum celebrates International Women's Day across APAC (Part I)

Telum celebrates International Women's Day across APAC (Part I)

To celebrate International Women's Day (IWD), Telum spoke to a selection of prominent PR professionals across the Asia-Pacific region about the importance of celebrating and championing female leaders in the industry.

For the first in our two-part series, PRs from the ANZ, SEA and EA regions share the initiatives they are hoping will enhance female visibility in their industry in 2023. 

Robyn Sefiani, President ANZ & Reputation Counsel, Sefiani (Australia)
Robyn Sefiani

The communications profession has long-attracted women to its ranks, where there is no barrier to progressing to senior and leadership roles in agencies and large organisations. The sky is the limit for women who are confident communicators, have good judgement, high EQ and IQ, think strategically and/or creatively and can inspire and lead others.

While IWD focuses our attention on opportunities for women, I’m equally passionate about diversity and inclusion to ensure Sefiani is a welcoming place for all.  Every Sefiani employee has a professional development plan, access to the Sefiani Academy, and on-the-job mentoring to help them grow their careers. We treasure our flexible, trusting and empowering workplace, and work-from-anywhere policy.  

Our generous employment benefits ensure women can thrive and build their careers at Sefiani despite the ups and downs of life, maternity and pregnancy -related breaks. We care deeply about our people’s wellbeing with a range of support mechanisms, and our team loves our fortnightly office yoga classes, led by our Managing Director, Mandy Galmes. 
Carden Calder

Carden Calder, Managing Director, BlueChip Communication
Most of BlueChip’s clients are in financial services so most of the leaders we deal with are male. We’re working in an industry that certainly has its challenges when it comes to women in leadership and diversity more broadly. 

One stark example is the Financial Services Council data that shows the slow pace of progress on female leadership with the number of Australian investment funds run by solo female managers or all-women stuck at five per cent for several years. 

There are some great initiatives pushing for change and backed by the industry such as Future Females in Finance (F3) which promotes financial services careers to young females and is having a real impact. The new picture of leadership needs to be less pale, male and stale and more representative of the rest of Australia. 

My view is that leaders who fit that (now much maligned) profile and who aren’t yet advocating and driving change really need to be, or risk being judged harshly for it. This isn’t a job for the women who aren’t yet at the table – it’s a job for the men and women who are already on boards or in the top job. 

In 2023, I'm looking forward to seeing more action, not talk, from boards and CEOs. If you don’t know what to do, start by asking the women you work with. Then listen, and act. Don’t just talk about your good intentions. 
Renae Smith

Renae Smith, Director, The Atticism
This year, I can’t wait to see further shifts in HR standard practice that will accommodate women’s differing needs in the workplace. 
One initiative I am expecting to receive traction in 2023 is paid period leave. Japan has offered menstrual leave since the late 1940s, and South Korea from 2001 – and my agency, The Atticism, introduced period leave in 2018. 

I now see news stories about companies implementing these changes in Europe and the UK – so, just like remote and hybrid working - I believe it’s only a matter of time before we see a large shift for period leave being the norm for companies across the globe. 



Yan Lim, CEO, iOli Communications
Yan Lim

Women, particularly working mums, bring valuable perspectives and insights to our work, and it is essential that we create an environment where they can thrive.  
To achieve this, first we must actively recruit and retain talented female professionals, including those with children. This means offering flexible work arrangements, such as remote work or flexible hours, and ensuring that women are compensated fairly for their contributions.  

Second, we need to create a culture of support and mentorship for working mums in our industry. This includes providing opportunities for networking and professional development, as well as access to resources and tools that can help them balance their personal and professional lives.  

Finally, we need to showcase their achievements and successes. By featuring them in industry publications, conferences, and events, we can help to break down barriers and inspire future generations of women to pursue careers in PR. 

Amanda Leong, Managing Director, Zeno (Malaysia)
Amanda Leong

We have seen so many exceptional women in our industry. At Zeno, most of our management team are females, with one very cool guy heading up one of our departments.

But there is room for improvement, and to see women leading creative pitches, pushing the boundaries and being able to experiment with new ways of storytelling.

These creative women deserve their own spotlight and visibility.


Eunice Seow, Director, Corporate Communications and Public Relations, TDCX
Eunice Seow

We need to first address the importance of visibility. The lack of female leaders means that commonly seen leadership styles tend to have more masculine traits. This creates two problems – the perception that one must embody such traits in order to lead and some women giving up on leadership opportunities as they do not identify with these traits. Some women may also find it difficult to lead with authenticity if there is an unconscious bias of what leadership is.  

While we have seen many initiatives to groom female leaders, I would like to see more being done to support females at all levels – even at the rank and file. This not only creates more pathways and progression opportunities for females but could also be an untapped source of talent for companies.  

In our industry, as a customer experience (CX) company, our goal is to make customer interactions seamless and pleasant. One important factor in achieving this is having empathy for the customer – something that females generally do better than males. Therefore, incorporating the female perspective becomes an advantage for us when designing CX solutions. 

Charu Srivastava, Corporate Affairs Lead and Chief Strategy Officer, TriOn & Co
Charu Srivastava

The quest to increase female “visibility” in the communications industry is not new. While there has been some progress in this regard, a lot more can be done.  

Most importantly, there must be a greater mindset change across the industry. This includes understanding that real change goes beyond simply increasing visibility. Real change should extend to acceptance of female colleagues at every level. It extends to providing an equal and fair path for career growth and development. It extends to giving women a seat at the table because they deserve it, not just to make a company look good.  

There are real and proven benefits to an inclusive, diverse and equitable workforce. Companies and leaders need to realise this, and truly commit to making this a genuine reality. 

The communications industry traditionally has more women than men, so the question isn’t about visibility. It is about empowering women as equally as men, without discriminating against their sex or the very many other factors of bias. Personally, I want to see the industry starting to treat each and every employee as an equal person. A person with the same access to learning, development, growth, success and fair pay regardless!
Anjali D'Mello

Anjali D'Mello, Head of PR, Instarem (Global) and Nium (APAC) 
Over the last decade, the tech space has seen a fantastic surge of women taking the lead. Fintech is no exception, and at Instarem, we're proud to have a powerhouse of leading ladies spearheading various critical functions such as product, marketing, compliance, and HR.  

It’s 2023 - we are owning our space and charging forward. So this International Women's Day, we don't need to enhance our visibility; we need to celebrate it. We celebrate women as equals because that's precisely what we are.


Karen Tang

Karen Tang, Senior Marketing & Communications Manager, First Digital Trust
I work in the digital assets industry and although it is more inclusive than the traditional financial services industry, it is still disproportionately male. What we don’t want happening is the “old boys’ club” transitioning into a “crypto bros’ club”. Though, more women are getting involved in the space due to the overlap with many other industries such as fashion, arts, music and finance.  

There are also initiatives established to enhance female visibility, such as Women in Web 3 (W3W), spearheaded by Vivien Khoo, for those based globally to come together, share ideas and empower each other. W3W also holds women-focused events where we can connect and find ways to collaborate.  

Similarly, Binance hosts Women in Crypto all around the world to equip participants with skills needed to succeed in blockchain and Web 3.0. I would love to see similar initiatives from other incumbents in the crypto space. 

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