In the dynamic and ever-evolving landscape of the technology sector, Alexandra Mercz stands as an inspiration for aspiring women. With a background in cybersecurity and a commitment to environmental, social, and governance (ESG) principles, Alexandra has not only navigated through the challenges of being a woman in male-dominated fields but has also thrived in leadership roles.
Having held senior positions in reputed global organisations like BNP Paribas, Standard Chartered Bank and Gojek, she is currently the Founder of Singapore-based Synterra Asia, a venture that blends business and technology expertise. In an exclusive interview with Collective for Equality, she shares her insights on gender biases, workplace equity, and the vital role men play in fostering gender equality.
Alexandra’s insights provide a roadmap for navigating gender equality in the tech industry. From empowering young girls to fostering workplace equity and leveraging gender diversity for innovation, her experiences and recommendations offer valuable guidance for individuals and organizations committed to creating a more inclusive and equal future.
Alexandra’s journey in the technology sector is marked by her commitment to positive change. “I’ve always been passionate about technology’s potential to bring about positive change,” she shares. Her expertise in cybersecurity has taught her the importance of resilience and adaptability, skills that have proven invaluable in her leadership roles. In the realm of ESG, she merges her technological background with broader social concerns, advocating for responsible and sustainable practices in the tech industry.
Being a woman in technology has not been without its challenges. Alexandra acknowledges the gender dynamics at play but emphasizes that overcoming biases has only strengthened her resolve to be a role model for aspiring women in the field. “By being at the forefront of technology and advocating for gender inclusivity, I aim to show that women not only belong in this space but can also lead and innovate,” she affirms.
Empowering Young Girls to Overcome Biases
Addressing gender biases, according to Alexandra, requires the involvement of all genders. She stresses the importance of educating everyone about the significance of gender equality. “Young girls should be shown that they are capable of choosing and excelling in any profession they feel passionate about, without the constraints of traditional gender roles,” she emphasizes.
She advocates for dismantling biases at their core rather than merely overcoming them. This involves challenging societal norms and perceptions that perpetuate gender inequality. To make this a reality, she suggests encouraging young girls to pursue their interests boldly and confidently, providing them with role models, sponsors, and mentors. Resilience and the ability to stand up against biases and stereotypes are essential skills that should be instilled in young girls.
Creating a culture of inclusivity and respect is a collective effort. Parents, educators, communities, and organizations must work together to ensure that girls can grow without limitations imposed by gender biases.
Alexandra emphasizes that fostering gender equity in the workplace requires concrete, actionable measures. Active participation of leadership in gender equity initiatives is crucial. Setting clear quotas for gender representation, with regular monitoring and transparent reporting, ensures accountability and tangible results. Sponsorship and mentorship programs specifically targeted towards women create a pipeline of women leaders, ensuring continuous commitment to gender equity.
Fostering an inclusive culture involves reevaluating workplace policies and ensuring they are free from biases. Regular training and awareness sessions for all employees contribute to creating an environment where everyone understands the importance of gender equity.
Riding the Wave of Innovation with Gender Diversity
Gender-diverse companies are not only more financially successful but also more innovative, according to Alexandra. Diversity brings different perspectives, experiences, and ideas, which are crucial for innovation. To leverage this diversity, organizations must create an environment where women feel valued and empowered to contribute their best. This involves not only hiring more women but also providing them with the support and opportunities needed to thrive.
Having more women in the workforce challenges the status quo and encourages fresh, unconventional thinking, leading to the development of products and services that better cater to a diverse customer base.
Alexandra identifies the expectation that women should bear caretaking responsibilities as a significant bias impeding women’s career progression. To address this, she calls for a cultural shift where caretaking is viewed as a shared responsibility, not just a woman’s duty. Organizations can play a crucial role by implementing policies that support work-life balance for all employees, regardless of gender.
Challenging and changing unconscious biases within the workplace is crucial. Regular training and awareness programs, fair and transparent hiring and promotion processes, and mentorship programs targeted at women can help overcome these biases.
Going Beyond Tokenism
For Alexandra, a company’s commitment to gender diversity goes beyond just having a diverse workforce. It involves actively striving to create an inclusive environment where everyone has equal opportunities to succeed. Data-driven strategies, transparency in reporting, and decisive action when issues are identified are key elements of this commitment.
A commitment to gender diversity means holding everyone in the organization accountable, creating a culture where diversity and inclusion are valued.
Men play a pivotal role in achieving gender equality in the workplace, according to Alexandra. Their active participation and support at all levels of the workforce are crucial. Men can contribute by advocating for and implementing policies that promote fairness and inclusivity. In leadership roles, they have the power to influence organizational culture and policies, setting an example for gender equality.
Men should be open to learning and understanding the challenges faced by their female colleagues. This involves participating in training and awareness programs that highlight unconscious biases.
In striving for gender equality in the workplace, corporate leaders face challenges stemming from entrenched processes designed for a predominantly male workforce. Alexandra emphasizes the need for a paradigm shift in strategies and processes. Redesigning workplace processes to accommodate diverse groups and minorities, overcoming unconscious biases, and implementing effective diversity initiatives are crucial steps.
Achieving gender equality demands a sustained effort to embed these values deeply within the organizational culture.