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The Human Library: Authentic Conversations on Equity and Allyship

The Human Library, as the third and final segment of the YWLC x Citi International Women's Day celebratory event, provided a safe and intimate space for authentic conversations surrounding equity and allyship. Diverse advocates and allies shared their unique perspectives on the topic, bringing a wealth of knowledge and experience to the table. Before the event began, participants had the opportunity to select two sets of speakers, ensuring personalised and meaningful conversations within small groups.

We had the distinct pleasure of welcoming a diverse and accomplished lineup of speakers to our event. This included:

  • Dawn Lim, Executive Director, DesignSingapore Council;

  • Ling Anne Hsieh, Managing Director & Co-Founder, Project Green Ribbon;

  • Sierin Lim, Associate Professor of Bioengineering, NTU;

  • Sylvia Xiao, Digital Transformation Lead, Citi;

  • Tan Gee Keow, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth; and

  • Toby Sunderland, Managing Director, Asia Head of Securities Services Technology, Citi.

These speakers shared three key takeaways below.

Embrace new opportunities for mentorship and growth

Having an open mindset towards new engagements, whether they are within or outside of your work, can be a valuable way to build a strong network and discover potential mentors who can provide advice and guidance. Establishing a successful mentor-mentee relationship requires a commitment from both parties, and the chemistry between them is essential. Therefore, approaching mentorship with an authentic and receptive mindset is crucial to finding the right fit and making the journey rewarding for both mentor and mentee.

Seek to grow beyond your comfort zone

Life inevitably presents us with challenging and intimidating moments, which may leave us feeling small and powerless. However, it is essential that we embrace these discomforting situations and utilise them as opportunities to cultivate our resilience and hone our abilities. Central to this process is actively reflecting and connecting with our emotions, which can be achieved through various practices, such as creating calming rituals or adopting power poses to boost confidence. Furthermore, acknowledging and celebrating the progress we have made on our growth journey is crucial to maintaining a positive outlook and a sense of motivation.

Build alliances to better navigate situations

The ability to both give and receive support knows no bounds of hierarchy, age, or position. In order to effectively harness this power, it is essential to remain discerning and attuned to the underlying dynamics at play in any given situation. By doing so, we can effectively draw upon the strengths and resources of our network to achieve our goals or make our voices heard. This can be particularly effective when working alongside allies who possess a deep understanding of these dynamics, as their support can greatly bolster our efforts. In turn, we also have the ability to provide crucial support and aid to others during their times of need.

Allyship knows no gender boundaries; it is incumbent upon every one of us to take responsibility for effecting change by speaking out against overt behaviour that is harmful or discriminatory. It falls upon us to take small yet meaningful steps within our own spheres of influence, using our voices to make a stand and potentially shielding others from similar issues in the future.

The insights shared during the Human Library session have been truly invaluable, serving as a powerful reminder of the critical importance of advocacy and allyship. Through these guiding points, the participants are reminded that each of us has a crucial role to play in advancing the cause of equity, and that proactive steps must be taken at every level to achieve this goal. We are deeply grateful to all who participated in this session and remain committed to working together towards a more just and equitable society for all.


Author: Jamie Low

Partner: Citi

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