I am Generation Equality: Shannon Kalayanamitr, Thai technology industry executive and gender equality advocate
Billions of people across the world stand on the right side of history every day. They speak up, take a stand, mobilize, and take big and small actions to advance women’s rights. This is Generation Equality.
Three things you can do to become part of Generation Equality:
- Read books, news, and other resources now online and reflect on what you read.
- Help each other, on a personal and professional level.
- Speak up and bring awareness to those around you.
I am Generation Equality because…
I am passionate about women’s rights and encouraging women to be confident in whatever they want to do. I want to make sure that people, and in this case women, realise that we all have the equal right and power to be able to attain, achieve or work towards anything we put our minds to, achieve whatever goal, whether it be career, family, financial, status, or even lifestyle, and not be pressured by stereotypical or cultural norms.
I grew up in a family with a single mom. There were a lot of different things that she could not reach for. She needed to make sure she stayed home to take care of the kids and the “normal motherly and wife duties”. She was pressured culturally and was not able to speak up in terms of things that she wanted to fight for, including her dreams and her career. I would say that this is common in Thailand or in Asia.
I saw the unfairness my mother had to deal with growing up, I saw my friends deal with teenage pregnancies and later, throughout my career, I have had to deal with a glass ceiling, hearing things that women supposedly are not good at or what we can or cannot do.
The biggest reason why I speak up now is because in the past 10 years, there have been many occasions where I have seen men and women with facets of cognitive biases of what they believe a good leader or business leader should be. I was also subjected to this myself.
It’s not just the number that’s important
Thailand or Asia has some of the largest numbers of C-Suite women in the world, but I think that people are forgetting some of the issues. What is MOST important is to ask yourself: Are all the women who are leaders actually given decision-making power? I mean, are we just a number or just a quota or just filling up a board role? Is that woman actively speaking? Does she feel that she has a safe space to speak and or is listened to?
Women in technology
We definitely don't have enough women in our field. Some problems are that we feel that perhaps we cannot do it, or there's not enough role models, and or if there's not enough companies and pathways or opportunities for us to do so.
“I am passionate about women’s rights and encouraging women to be confident in whatever they want to do. ”
It's really easy to get swept up in everyday work operations. But you can embed cognitive biases and diversity awareness when hiring to make sure you have enough diversified candidates or when in a meeting, see who speaks up and if each person is given enough airtime. Every bit counts.
When you have a diversified company or diversified management… it's actually financially good for your company. This can be seen in the product team where all the voices are being heard to help take key opinions and needs and requirements from all parties' sides. It will also help the process, taking in different viewpoints or ways to work that would best optimize for all parties. Diversification is also a hedge or risk management tool, So be aware this actually helps your business become more of a well-balanced, financially and economically sound business able to capture needs and requirements for all parties within your firm and externally. Lastly, when all voices are being heard and needs being met, the organization becomes a more healthy and well balanced environment for all to work in, enabling employers and employees to do their best work.
Diversity makes good business.
Shannon Kalayanamitr has made her mark in the tech world building businesses [ORAMI/ MOXY, Lazada, PPTVThailand] and is a CEO of the IKIGAI Group and 5G Catalyst Technologies, in Southeast Asia. She is a UN Women HeForShe Advocate for Thailand and was awarded UN Women’s National WEPs Award in the Leadership Commitment category.