Trust, commitment and partnership. Three out of five core values that guide our everyday work at Jebsen & Jessen focus on the nature of relationships that we seek to form, deepen, and maintain with our stakeholders. Gender doesn’t, and shouldn’t, come into play. Yet the reality is, unconscious biases — in the form of social stereotypes that we may not actively aware of — do exist and can subconsciously influence the way we think and behave.
Having the gender conversation and speaking about it openly and candidly is a first and important step in uncovering and addressing any unconscious biases that may reside in our minds.
Sharing our perspectives
With last year being the Year of Celebrating SG Women, the Swedish Chamber of Commerce Singapore (SwedCham) published #Candid: 100 Perspectives on Gender Equality in Singapore. The ground-breaking collection features personal reflections from 100 men and women across different walks of life. As a long-standing supporter of SwedCham, we were offered the opportunity to contribute to the publication and we gladly accepted.
Gender equality is an equilibrium that we can only achieve when both men and women are committed to achieving it. Male allyship, where men play an active role in advancing equality, is a crucial piece of puzzle, as noted by both our contributors, Jebsen & Jessen Group CEO Per Magnusson and Jebsen & Jessen Ingredients CEO Lim Siew Tin.
Taking off the blinkers
In his piece, ‘Diversity Gives us an Economic Edge’, Per acknowledges that he has not experienced discrimination personally but that the issue is hitting home for him as his daughter prepares to enter the workforce. He wrote:
“When I started out in the engineering industry, it was male dominated. As more women joined the industry, we noticed that the working climate and team interactions became more level and productive. However, better performance is not — and should not be — the main reason for gender equality. It is simply the right thing to do. Any form of discrimination is a disgrace. For those who have not experienced discrimination personally, it could well be that we have a large blind spot, and that we are discriminating without even noticing it ourselves! The mere thought of this scares me and each and every one of us must strive to become aware of our personal gender biases.”
Walking a mile in her shoes
The publication also carries Siew Tin’s voice as she writes about her journey ‘From Tradition to CEO’. Raised in a traditional family centred around men, Siew Tin shared how she had to learn, from a young age, to fight for her own opportunities. Now, as a business leader, she hopes to empower more women to break through society’s glass ceilings:
“To explicitly push for gender equality was never my intention, but to give women a place to excel and contribute has always been my ultimate goal for a workplace. I believe all female CEOs must work hard, just like men, but women must learn to have the courage to speak up and to put up their hands if they want the job. The biggest challenge for women to get into the boardroom is networking. Men have to be more aware of their unconscious biases and create an environment that allows for diversity in views and gender. Men, women in the boardroom can be your sparring partners as well!”
Inclusivity at work
At Jebsen & Jessen, we have laid a strong foundation to foster a more diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace. Our journey continues and with everyone, from our leadership teams to employees on the ground, committed to the cause, we will reach our destination sooner, rather than later.
Click on the image below to read the full digital version of '#Candid: 100 Perspectives on Gender Equality in Singapore' and learn more about the initiative: