Barry Callebaut Asia Pacific celebrates International Women's Day: #BreakTheBias

Barry Callebaut celebrates International Women's Day: #BreakTheBias

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At Barry Callebaut, we are committed to creating a diverse and inclusive working environment for all our employees.
Barry Callebaut celebrates International Women's Day: #BreakTheBias

Since we launched #OneBC, our Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) strategy about a year ago, we have heard many encouraging stories on the actions and initiatives taken by our colleagues globally in support of this strategy.

To celebrate International Womens’ Day this year, we are proud to share the stories of three powerful women across our APAC businesses. They #BreaktheBias in their own individual ways and collectively, let’s join them in imagining and creating a better world for all of us.

Imagine a world… where difference is valued and celebrated

Shao Enn Soh 
Production operator at our Senoko chocolate factory in Singapore

I am the first female production operator to be hired at Barry Callebaut’s Singapore chocolate factory. People may think that a factory is always labor-intensive and is a place that needs physical strength to perform heavy lifting. However, since I started working here, I realized that there are many roles on the production line that suit different personalities and strengths.

While I may have a smaller build compared to my male colleagues, my managers and colleagues recognize that strength is not just in the physical. It’s about being able to solve problems and overcome challenges as well. Furthermore, modern manufacturing practices also allow for greater automation and for cutting edge production techniques. Therefore, there are opportunities for females and males alike to work in a chocolate factory.

I have a strong interest in the manufacturing industry and I break the bias that females are not suited for this industry. In fact, I look forward to being the first female as a forklift operator in our factory, further breaking the bias that women are not good drivers!

I celebrate the fact that Barry Callebaut is hiring more female employees to work as production operators. Since I was hired, three other ladies have been hired as well. The managers here recognize our good work and give us equal opportunities for learning and progressing as our male colleagues. It is a testament that diversity is celebrated, and differences are valued.

Shao Enn at the packing line
Shao Enn at the packing line in Barry Callebaut's Singapore chocolate factory and breaking the bias that females are not suited for this industry.

Imagine a world… free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination

Noor Radzina Moh Yusoff
Assistant Manager, FP&A and Project/Governance based in our office in Port Klang, Malaysia

A typical working mom stereotype is ‘they must be distracted at work because they need to attend to their children all the time. And the general lack of sleep makes them poor performers at work. This problem is even worse when they are working from home.

I am a new mother to a 17-month old toddler. He is a very active boy who never fails to amuse me with his little tricks every day. Chasing him around at home is sufficient for my daily workout. Sometimes, my toddler would need extra attention during the day. But that does not mean that my work performance is compromised. I may be attending to my crying toddler during working hours, but I make it a point to put in the extra hours at night after my baby sleeps. 

Honestly, there are times when I feel tired. But being a mother does not mean that you need to have it all. Sometimes it is about open communications and finding the right support such as telling your superior, colleagues or even your spouse about your challenges and working it out together. And I am thankful to find a work family that is supportive of working mothers like me. 

On the same thread, I break the bias that working mothers are no longer driven or ambitious at work. I love motherhood but I enjoy what I do every day in my job too. It is not an either-or, it is a both-and. In fact, my boy is now my motivation to do even better at work. I want to become a mother that he would be proud of.

Radzina with colleagues at Barry Callebaut's Port Klang office in Malaysia
Radzina at Barry Callebaut's Port Klang office in Malaysia, breaking the bias that working mothers are no longer driven or ambitious at work. (picture taken before Covid-19)

Imagine… A diverse, equitable, and inclusive world. 

Maiko Sakamoto
Customer Service Manager at our chocolate factory in Takasaki, Japan

Many people think that females are often soft-spoken and submissive. Because of that, their range of career opportunities is limited and are not suitable for leadership roles.

However, my experience with working in Barry Callebaut Japan’s Customer Service over the past 8 years has been more than about being submissive. As a Customer Service Manager, my team and I interface with customers and internal stakeholders on a daily basis to bring about an effective resolution at the fastest time possible. 

We don’t blindly say yes to the requests that we receive. We are highly attuned to balancing interests, educating stakeholders and managing delicate customer relationships. I break the bias that women are not great leaders. Personality doesn’t determine leadership ability. Being loud and assertive doesn't equate to being an effective leader. In fact, there is no one size fits all leadership style and I am continuously learning from the people around me.

Beyond a gender equal mindset, I hope to create an inclusive world where we can celebrate our differences - including in our leadership styles. I really look forward to having more people from many different backgrounds and cultures to join our operations in Japan.

Maiko at work
Maiko in the Takasaki office in Japan, breaking the bias that women are not great leaders

As a company, we are celebrating our annual #oneBC Day on March 9, 2022. It is a day dedicated to remind our employees the importance of Diversity and Inclusion in our day-to-day work by sharing inspiring stories and reviewing our progress towards the targets and goals we’ve set for ourselves.

Hui Ern Ng

Hui Ern Ng

A millennial in the Corporate Communications team in Asia, Hui Ern is fascinated by people’s stories and how things come together in the bigger picture. She lives life looking underage and taking random hikes when there are hills around. But more often than not, she's there watching videos on the couch.

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