Last November Global Women in PR (GWPR) launched its Singapore chapter, spearheaded by nine female founding members who represent stewards of the industry. As we celebrate International Women's Day, Telum caught up with two of its founding members - Julia Wei, Managing Partner at AKA Asia and Yasmin Ramle, former SVP Head of Community and Employee Engagement, GIC to ask what drove them to contribute and be a part of the global network and its upcoming plans for women in the industry.
What prompted you to be part of the Global Women in PR in Singapore?
It was a chance to build something different with others who have the same, if not more fervent, passion to create impact for females in PR and communications. The founding members have probably reaped benefits over the years by being a part of existing female empowerment groups and networks, but there wasn't a network that was entirely dedicated to enabling and equipping women in our industry. Setting up GWPR provided a platform for us to tailor an approach and develop programmes and content for what we think would work for our audience in Singapore.
The comms industry is complex and multi-faceted, and it’s hard for any one particular industry association to cover depth across a breadth of focus areas. GWPR offers a white space to address the unique growth opportunities and challenges that women in comms face here in Singapore.
A community like GWPR can bring together the practical skills-based benefits of a comms industry group, as well as the softer benefits of learning, exchange and mentorship between women. I was excited to join GWPR to help play a part in attracting, growing and retaining more female talent in the industry for the long-term!
The launch of the Singapore chapter follows a research that highlights the urgent need for career development support. Which finding from the report stands out the most to you?
Forty-four percent said they were either unhappy or on the fence when asked to rate their career satisfaction. That's almost one out of every two women in Singapore's communications industry. There are many contributing factors but if we ask ourselves what's within our control, I believe it's our mindset and behaviour. It starts with asking what we can do differently for ourselves and other females, today and every day, so that in the next six months, a year, and so on, we can say hand on heart that we are more and more satisfied with the careers we are building.
The one thing that stood out for me was that many women cited unclear or limited growth pathways as a major barrier for advancement opportunities. There seems to be a case of ‘we don’t know what we don’t know’ - especially when there aren’t many industry reference points or resources.
This makes it hard for women in PR to evaluate their own strengths and weaknesses, know what opportunities to ask for, or what paths are available to them. This will be an area of focus for us - a complex task, but hopefully we can help demystify these pathways for women.
This year’s IWD theme of #BreakTheBias – in your opinion how can men serve as allies for women in the workplace?
It's not just men. Everyone at and outside of the workplace can do better as allies. We are more interconnected than we think, and small actions every day collectively create the change we hope to see. We can lift each other up more, stand up for those who may not be able to do so for themselves, actively listen to one another, hold safe space for others to discuss perspectives that may not always align with our values, then work out a new equilibrium or modus vivendi that results in mutually beneficial outcomes.
Firstly, by speaking up to help give female colleagues a platform or the floor to express themselves if you see them being bypassed. Secondly, by helping to set a visible example of positive behavioural response towards women. For example, in support of a working mom’s work-life harmony. Understand her rhythm and needs - when she’s most productive, when she has to excuse herself. And then visibly set an example for others through small gestures like reminding the team she can’t do a Zoom call past a certain time of the day or at a certain ‘sleep-time’ window.
Can you share with us some of GWPR Singapore activities and initiatives planned out for women in the industry in the near future?
2022 will be about building the foundations for GWPR Singapore. Our calendar of events will include quarterly networking sessions, small match-making mentor discussions, alliances and partnerships and masterclasses involving industry leaders around key themes like building your leadership presence and allyship. We are also developing GWPR’s take on career pathways in Singapore for women in comms, with the support of industry consultation.
Being part of the larger international GWPR community, we are active in its global Empower network, an international leadership and mentoring programme in which three of our founding members are mentors matched to mentees from all over the world. There are also two women from the industry in Singapore who are participating as mentees. We will continue to leverage social platforms to publish and share best practices. Members will also have access to our global GWPR network of speaker events, research and discussions.