International Women's Day: Embracing equity for a more inclusive future

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In a world defined by innovation, this year’s International Women’s Day theme #EmbraceEquity is a timely reminder on celebrating and supporting difference. It’s widely recognised that diverse and inclusive teams can boost creativity and decision-making, which is especially important in the technology sector.

At ESET, we believe in building a culture where all employees are empowered to be their authentic selves. We have launched initiatives such as scholarships for female students keen to pursue a career in STEM cybersecurity, mentorship, and leadership development programmes aimed at helping to level the playing field for women.

In this interview, we speak to two female leaders, Katherina Park, ESET HR Manager for APAC, and Pamela Ong, ESET Sales Director for APAC on the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), and their thoughts on embracing equity.

1.     What inspired you to join the cybersecurity industry?

Katherina: After working for close to three years at a professional services company, I decided to join a large US-based tech company after being impressed by their employee value proposition (EVP). Besides, it was a regional role and the company was expanding rapidly. Everything was in place to attract top talents, hence it was a great place for an aspiring recruiter like me to learn the ropes.

Pamela: My career so far is not carefully scripted, it is a product of the opportunities that presented themselves. I started my career as a business analyst in a biomedical company before I joined an MNC tech company. It was a logical progression as the tech industry is the future and it is something that we all need. In my previous role, my focus was hardware and now it is all about protecting hardware with software from ESET. This sounds like one of our advertisement taglines that says ‘when technology enables progress, ESET is here to protect it’. 

2.     What are your thoughts on this year’s IWD theme, #EmbraceEquity?

Katherina: Early in my career, I was worried that motherhood would impact my career. I later realised I was holding a preconceived notion that being a woman and a parent would be given less opportunities. #EmbraceEquity reminds us to take a closer look at systemic barriers that may be in place - for instance, the misconception that working parents are less dedicated to their career – that deter us from building a truly inclusive workplace. Different people thrive in different environments, and for working mothers, if this means allowing for a more flexible schedule, it can go a long way in supporting them to pursue their career aspirations whilst balancing caregiving responsibilities.

Pamela: It is not a secret that the tech sector is dominated by men and this might have caused a perception that it would be harder for women to succeed. There have also been studies suggesting that women are less likely to apply for jobs unless they are confident that they meet most of the listed qualifications. Although we’ve seen improvements in female representation across the industry, the lack of positive role models may deter women from entering the field. Building a more equitable environment would have to start with tackling possible misconceptions and stereotypes that both men and women have. I also believe in the value of mentorship to help female team members develop their confidence and leadership skills.

3.     Can you share the one thing you’re doing right now at work or at home to promote diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI)?

Katherina: There is a conducive working culture at ESET where our utmost priority is to empower everyone to be confident individuals that have the right resources to lead, manage or be good at what they are doing. Pamela is always sought after to provide industry-specific advice because of her expertise, not gender.

There was an instance where my daughter’s teacher mentioned that female students tend to score lower in math, based on the data that they have. While my first reaction was of concern, I’m aware that such data may actually be rooted in persistent gender stereotypes around math aptitude. I’m keeping myself in check so I don’t pass on these unconscious biases to my daughter!

Pamela: I am going to talk about home because at ESET, I am quite lucky that there is no discrimination based on gender, religion or race. These are never in the conversation when it comes to hiring or promotion. They are always based on merit. At home, my husband and I believe that there is no such thing as a woman or man of the house. One simple example is that we split the house chores between us. We want to set up the right example for our younger relatives and eventually our children.

Katherina Park, ESET HR Manager for APAC

Pamela Ong, ESET Sales Director for APAC