March 8 is International Women’s Day, a time to commemorate the achievements of women across the globe. Equally important, it’s also a time to think about how we can create a more diverse, equitable and inclusive world – now and in the future.
To celebrate the holiday, we interviewed GoGlobal Partner and Chief of Staff Margaret Yip about creating gender parity in the workplace. We also spoke with other women leaders at GoGlobal to learn more about how flexible work options are a potential game changer for supporting and empowering women in the workplace.
What does International Women’s Day mean to you? Why do you think it is important for business leaders and companies to recognize and celebrate gender parity in the workplace?
Margaret Yip, GoGlobal Partner and Chief of Staff: I’m a strong advocate for women, at every stage of their lives, so International Women’s Day to me is a time to celebrate all the wonderful and strong women out there. I think it is important for business leaders and companies to recognize gender parity in the workplace. Women have been – and still are – hugely underrepresented at the management and decision-making levels of most organizations. This imbalance makes no sense at all, since women represent and contribute a very significant part of the global workforce and drive the majority of consumer purchases.
However, here at GoGlobal, 75% of our workforce is women, with many of them holding key senior managerial and critical operational positions. Most of our clients are also women. There is a reason why HR is typically a women centric-function: we are empathetic, detail-oriented, patient and great at multi-tasking. These qualities happen to be ideal for human capital management. Every year, I tell our ‘Gobies’ the same thing: GoGlobal would not have achieved its success to date without our talented women (sorry guys, you’re great too).
Amid the turbulent economic conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic, women have been disproportionately impacted with greater job and incomes losses. As the first female partner for a company that hasn’t had any female employees depart during the pandemic, what advice do you have for business leaders and companies looking to avoid the “shecession?”
Margaret: Over the years, I have come across many women who either made sacrifices in quitting their job for their children or constantly feel inadequate in trying to do both. With remote work options in place, women no longer need to “choose” one or the other. Instead, they can integrate their professional and personal lives – and prove they can excel at both.
As a testament to the power of flexible remote work options, we have many full-time working mothers at GoGlobal, and they are extremely productive and hardworking. They are resilient, organized and bring great time management skills to the table. Have I mentioned that we would not be where we are today without our talented working women?
I cannot imagine what would become of our organization if we were to face the “shecession” but, luckily, we are an organization that respects and empowers women. I believe this could protect us from some of the effects of the “shecession.” I believe it is true that whatever you give to women, they are going to multiply in giving back.
Have you faced any barriers in your career due to being a woman? If so, how did you overcome them?
Margaret: My background is in finance, a male-dominated industry. Unconscious bias is very real and this is the reason why I became a strong advocate for women. There is often the presumption that men are capable unless proven otherwise. But, for women, it’s often the other way around. Furthermore, because women tend to be more organized and considerate, we are somehow expected to get the coffee or schedule the meetings.
I overcame these barriers in recent years by developing my confidence and asserting my executive presence. Ironically, I improved upon these skills even more by learning to accept I am not perfect. I’ve also learned that some barriers can only be overcome through sheer hard work and determination, requiring a proven track record of successful results. There is just no easy way around that.
What is the most important piece of advice you have been given?
Margaret: There was a workshop I attended not so long ago, where I was told perfectionism is different from striving for excellence. Perfectionism is a personal standard to which we hold ourselves. Because this standard is often unattainable, we become our own worst enemy. By accepting that I am not perfect, I have embraced who I am. I have learned to be kind to myself.
If I were to give advice to another woman today, it would be, “Be yourself, speak up and keep learning.”
For this final question, we interviewed several women leaders at GoGlobal to gain a multitude of perspectives on GoGlobal’s flexible remote work culture.
GoGlobal is a fully remote company. Do you feel that a flexible remote work culture contributes to greater gender parity? If yes, how so?
Margaret Yip, Partner: Flexible work culture absolutely contributes to greater gender parity. Women are most often blessed – and simultaneously burdened – with having to play multiple roles in society. In many corners of the world, such as in Japan, it is common for women to leave the workforce when they become mothers. This often happens at the peak of their careers, and it can be extremely difficult to return to work.
It’s not just employees that benefit from flexible work arrangements. As companies face the Great Resignation and ongoing labor shortages, flexible remote work enables employers to tap into a large talent pool of women that would be unavailable in a traditional setting. Moreover, the human element is important in managing a remote workplace and empathetic leadership is much needed in society today.
The shift to remote flexible work creates a natural path for women to excel and succeed, as they possess the necessary qualities for companies to thrive. Here at GoGlobal, we respect working mothers, celebrate pregnant employees and very much enjoy seeing our colleagues’ children during our virtual meetings!
Marcilla Roulston, Manager, Account Management: Living and working during a global pandemic has been an unprecedented challenge for many. I started with GoGlobal in 2021, one year into the pandemic. It has proven to be a great decision to join such an amazing and caring group of professionals.
Being able to create my own work schedule ensures I can complete my work in a timely manner, while spending quality time with family and pursuing personal interests. My fellow “Gobies” are always willing to step in and assist when needed—no questions asked! I value my co-workers, because even in this completely remote work environment, the team’s bond is strong. Help is always available. The cohesive team setting makes it easy to momentarily step away to help family or friends with the sudden issues that can arise during the pandemic and otherwise.
GoGlobal’s remote work events give us opportunities to meet our fellow Gobies from around the world and have some fun. The virtual scavenger hunt, lantern festival celebration and Halloween party video call are just a few memorable examples. It has been hard for companies to adjust to the new conditions presented by the pandemic, but GoGlobal has created a great working atmosphere.
To my fellow women Gobies and all the women around the world, keep up the amazing work! The success of so many women at GoGlobal proves that women are valuable assets to any company. I’m honored to work side by side with so many smart, supportive and successful women leaders.
Leila Said, Manager, Account Management: In the past when I worked from an office, it often felt like I had two separate worlds: my work life and my personal life. We all have everyday life events that we need to tend to outside of work. Working from home has helped me create a healthy work-life balance. As long as I complete my work and tend to our clients’ needs, I can start and end my day how I choose. Having control over my work schedule is an invaluable asset, as it helps me to better attend the needs of both my personal and professional lives.
Here at GoGlobal, we have a diverse group of strong, knowledgeable women. Every woman’s success should be an inspiration for another to believe in their own power. Women who believe in each other can accomplish anything together.
Sariah Lutkin, Director, Account Management: Being able to work remotely has been great for my work-life balance. My husband and I both have families and close friends living in different countries and working remotely means I can travel across the globe to see them for weeks at a time without interruptions of my work. Even when I’m not traveling, being able to manage my own work schedule has made a big difference. Simple things like shopping at my local food market when it opens at 10 A.M., booking doctors’ appointments or going to the gym or for a walk whenever it fits my schedule, rather than it needs to be out of business hours, have made life so much easier.
Many companies have shifted, employees forced by COVID to work from home, but because GoGlobal has always been a people-first, fully remote company, our whole culture focuses on building relationships and working closely as a team despite being remote. We cater to team members in different countries and time zones. Our approach proves that employees do not need to sit in an office from 9-5 to get things done. Hire great people and trust them to manage their own work schedule, they will deliver remarkable results.
At GoGlobal, we support women at all stages of their life. I am especially impressed with our mothers on the team. They are delivering amazing work all whilst taking great care of their kids at home. So, on International Women’s Day, I want to give a big shout-out to GoGlobal’s working mothers and all the other working mothers out there.
Sachi Watanabe, Director, Account Management: I have two kids: one is seven years old and the other just turned two. At the beginning of the pandemic, the oldest was five and the youngest was just a newborn. My parenting responsibilities make my mornings and evenings very busy, but GoGlobal’s flexible remote work culture allows me to accomplish everything I need to each day.
GoGlobal is a company where we respect people and trust their work. We don’t ask for a timesheet. We don’t care where team members are, necessarily, but we do care what they do. After working more than 15 years in a corporate environment where I had to commute every day in a packed train, the freedom from commuting is really appreciated. It gives me more time to focus on work projects.
However, working remotely does not come without its challenges. Sometimes it can be difficult to switch ‘off’ and unplug. More and more, I’m learning it is up to me how to manage my day. I am being very careful to be open-minded to suggestions I get from colleagues. Since we don’t work next to each other, online chat is the tool for our daily communication. I always welcome being reached out to by members of our supportive team.
GoGlobal’s flexible remote work culture shows that women can wear multiple hats in their lives, finding success both personally and professionally.
Michelle Leong, Manager, Corporate Governance: During these unprecedented times, more women compared to men across the globe have either lost their jobs or had to call it quits in order to care for their children at home. However, GoGlobal offers great flexibility in work schedules, placing trust in team members to manage their responsibilities and enjoy a better work-life balance. As a result, full-time working moms at GoGlobal, like me, no longer need to choose between career and family responsibilities. GoGlobal is a place where women have an opportunity to break the glass ceiling. As more companies shift to flexible remote work options, like GoGlobal, I encourage all women to boldly embrace the ‘career woman’ in them without worrying about jeopardizing family commitments.
Rajni Kukkar, Associate Director, Business Process Management: A company is built on culture and people. I started working with GoGlobal when it was in its ideation stage. I also just happened to be stepping into my motherhood journey at the time. It has been so rewarding to witness GoGlobal’s growth, without missing any important milestones for my son. Our work culture – built upon flexible working arrangements and individual accountability – empowers all team members, thus bringing out the best in everyone.
GoGlobal is an ardent supporter of a healthy work-life balance and flexible working schedules, both of which especially benefit working mothers. I’m extremely proud and lucky to be a part of an organization that supports women. On this International Women’s Day, I wish for a world where all women receive the support they need from their work circles as well as their families – so they can achieve all they desire.