We sat down with Emily Zhang, Chief People Officer, to discuss how we are actively fostering a diverse culture at Monoova, the female mentors that have shaped her career and some pearls of wisdom that other women can learn from.
Emily Zhang, Chief People Officer
How do we promote diversity at Monoova?
As Chief People Officer, for me it is about harnessing an environment in which everyone from a diverse background of beliefs, values and personas not only feel welcome BUT are encouraged to show empathy in welcoming others. At Monoova, it is part of our identity and personal commitment to go beyond to ensure that everyone is equitably treated and feels they belong, from your day to day interactions with colleagues, to the way we recognise and remunerate our people. We’re new and just starting to walk – so we’re not perfect, but equity is at the core of our operating ethos. In every people decision we make in the business, we test ourselves – does everyone have the same opportunity here and have we made considerations and investments into those who we see a potential in?
What's the most valuable piece of advice you can pass on to anyone, especially women trying to establish their careers or anyone striving for gender equality?
Don’t second guess yourself. I think generally speaking, women sometimes ‘overthink’ instead of taking action. I think we often get caught up with self-judgement, we forget there’s a reason why you are where you are – and that’s through hard work and achievement. We’ve grown up in a society which constantly feeds us the narrative that women should be ‘grateful’ and ‘appreciative’ of the opportunities now open to women which previously were not. But if we are going to really make a change in striving for true ‘equity’ we need to change our own mindset – and that we ‘deserve’ to be here the same as anyone else. We deserve nothing less than being treated equally and at the same time scrutinised with the same criteria as men in the same situation. As a society we’ve achieved a lot in ‘breaking the mould’ as to speak – but we have a long way to go yet – ironically, we can sometimes be our own worst enemy in making progress. So my advice to women is to ‘work on yourself’, acknowledge your worth and credibility and make it an everyday habit to remind yourself that you deserve to where you are or where you want to be just as much as your male counterparts.
How have female mentors/role models influenced your career?
I think having been a 2003 graduate from an all girls Grammarian school, I have lived through a pivotal journey on the expectations of a women, in their roles at home, workplace and society. I’ve been lucky enough to have crossed paths, worked with and taken under the wings of incredibly successful and inspiring women during my career. The key thing I have learned, is that everyone has a story – some more colourful than others. No matter how successful and confident they appear in their leadership, there has been moments of adversity – and the topic of ‘gender disparity’ often creeps up. Gender inequality is sometimes subtle and very embedded into our status quo, the basic evolutionary fact that women have to take time off in order to birth and care for a family automatically disadvantages us in terms of time ‘lost’ in our jobs and career seats. However, what I’ve learned from these women is that it’s not true that you have to choose one or the other – we can manage it, as long as we are supported – at home, in our workplace (managers and peers), friends, families and social network. As a woman – you need to remember that you’re not the only fighting gender role challenges and juggling priorities, however with the right foundations to support you we can achieve much – equally as men.
This is why for me, building a workplace that can provide flexibility in supporting women in their jobs is important to me, both as our Monoova brand and personally. The fact that I am a full-time single parent raising a 3yo is anecdotal to Monoova’s value on empathy and diversity.
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