How women-led tech startups create gender equality in the workplace

The awareness of gender equality and diversity in the workplace has emerged worldwide, including in Southeast Asia’s work sphere. Many Southeast Asia companies realize the importance of gender diversification and equality but still figure out how to address those issues in the workplace. 

Three women tech leaders shared some of their experiences at the Women with Impact Forum held by East Ventures, on 16 February 2022. East Ventures’ Principal, Devina Halim, moderated the session and discussed how companies and leaders can bring gender diversity and equality to the workplace through some policies. The session speakers are Roshni Mahtani Cheung, Founder and Group CEO of; Homage’s Founder and CEO Gillian Tee; and Tinkerlust’s Co-Founder and CEO Samira Shihab. 

Gillian Tee, the Founder, and CEO of Homage, a personal care provider, had thought that the lack of diversity in the tech industry was due to the pipeline problem – not many women are educated in tech, nor are they interested in tech startups. However, she realized, the real problem is the lack of action and encouragement from the companies and leaders for the women workforce to pursue higher careers. 

“We must champion it. Having a conversation about women and gender equality issues, and being very mindful about intentional actions that we can put into the workplace, starting from the leadership, are two full marks that we can encourage,” Gillian said. 

The importance of having gender equality and inclusion is also recognized by Samira Shihab, the CEO and Co-Founder of Tinkerlust, Indonesia’s leading preloved and luxury fashion marketplace, in which 80% of the team are women. 

While Samira ran her own company in the early ages of the company, she encountered an uneasy trend, in which mostly women resigned because they wanted to have a new family or just get married.

She reflected on her experience, while she was working in a large company in the United States, which gave benefits and flexibility to its women employees to work. She also reflected on her goals in choosing the entrepreneurial, as she needs more flexibility and can manage her time. Thus, she decided to give the employees flexibility when an employee wanted. 

Source: East Ventures