Tech Diversity, Inclusion & Accessibility Q&A, Southeast Asian Realities & Organisational Transformation - E216

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When you're speaking about localizing diversity and inclusion, I think it's really important to be mindful of where a country or an industry is in terms of their maturity across that journey, because it's always a very difficult topic to navigate. And I think we need to be aware, not to push to get everyone at the same level too fast. And this is something that I've seen a lot of conversations with companies across the globe, is that if you push too fast, you want everyone to get to one level of understanding and priorities. A lot of companies or countries might just drop out. So we're not ready. We're not culturally, socially, politically, organisationally, we're not there yet. So we're just not going to proceed. 

Jeremy moderates a Clubhouse question and answer session about tech diversity, inclusion & accessibility


Jeremy Au: (00:29)

Today we’re discussing tech diversity, inclusion accessibility. So this conversation is recorded and you will be later distributed for podcasts for those who aren't available to tune in right now. I'm pleased to welcome Dominica and Jean, and hopefully a few folks will be joining us soon as well. Just to chat a little bit about what we're facing. And we're not pretending to be experts. But I think it's a way just to open up and ask questions and share our thoughts for where we are. And obviously, there will be an opportunity for folks to be able to raise their hands, so feel free to raise your hands, members of the Southeast Asia Tech Club do get priority as a guest. So feel free to follow and subscribe to more events like this. And in the meanwhile, feel free to raise hands. And I'll take a note of the order and then I'll be happy to invite you for questions. Dominica and Jean, would you like to just quickly just introduce yourselves real quick for everybody.

Dominica: (01:18)

Hi, all. I'm Dominica. I'm the co-founder and CEO of a Singapore based startup. We are on a mission to close the telecommunication and the digital communication accessibility gap for deaf and hard of hearing individuals living across Asia, building on providing that access inclusion for persons with all disabilities. In addition to that, I do disability advocacy more broadly based in Australia. You could probably tell from my accent, I'm an Aussie. So I do work with the government and the professional associations here in Australia on projects that are related to using technology and innovation to drive sector transformation. In Australia, outside of that, I have a few different hobbies, I do writing. I write a lot. And I'm generally involved in things that are about social change and health and healing and wellness and goodness. So I'm very excited to be here. And talking about this topic, it's something I'm very passionate about, obviously, with the work that I do. And I'm so excited to be working this topic of attention to this audience into the tech community in Southeast Asia.

Jean: (02:37)

Hey guys, my name is Jean. I’m a founder that merged spirituality and technology that's based in the Philippines. And what we're trying to do is we are trying to create a platform that will enable people from all over the world to have access to ancient healing modalities of the ancient philosophies and the future forward technologies and innovation of AI, Machine Learning and Data Science. So that people from any background, any gender, any kind of economic status can hop on the bandwagon and be prepared for the future of work and upgrade their lives whether it's spiritually or economically or technologically. I'm a speaker at tech events. I feel strongly about parity between men and women and again, especially the Asian islands, I am all about uplifting and just introducing the Asian talent. I used to run a Silicon Valley based company that created virtual assistants that help people pick financial products. I'm also very passionate about AI. And I'm in the process of permanently living in Japan. So I'm very passionate about technology and spirituality, which is a very, very odd combination. And I'm excited to hear about the thoughts of Dominica, and Jeremy and all of you to just get to know how we can come together to help each other out in any way that we can.

Jeremy Au: (04:20)

Awesome. And Danny, you want to introduce yourself. Just take the opportunity to invite you up to stage.

Daniel: (04:24)

Hi, my name is Daniel. I'm a sign language interpreter in Singapore. I am an accessory advocate as well. I want to say thanks Dominica for bringing me up. She and I have just started working together previously. I have been an interpreter in Singapore for the past two years. And I've also used to work in the government agencies for couple of months for an internship for a sensible public service broadcasting. So I'm really happy to be here.

Jeremy Au: (04:51)

Awesome. So and for myself, I'm very much here in a role as a facilitator and moderator. Obviously I've had past experience as a social entrepreneur working with undreds of nonprofits social enterprises, and from a consulting perspective, but also obviously, interestingly, building itself as a charitable organisation itself, and very much, of course, transitioning to VC, and the various challenges that exist both as a Founder and as a VC. So, definitely seen, I guess, all three sides of the table. So I think just to kind of get things started, what are the problems here like, obviously a strong man argument here. But what's there a tech diversity problem, inclusion, problem accessibility? Like, how do we think about what the problems are?

Dominica: (05:36)

I am happy to go first. Whilst there are many for me, I would say awareness is a really big issue, especially for what I advocate for disability, in general in Asia comes up against several barriers. Some of them are cultural, some of them are historical, some of them are political, and some of them are technological. There are various challenges and barriers. And that's fine, because they exist everywhere. And across the any sort of intersection where there's a need for change. But where I see a lack is in awareness. Awareness in a societal sense in terms of having social conscious of people with disabilities, the challenges and barriers that they do face and the role that community can play in mitigating those barriers, and becoming allies and supporters of those communities. And I say that because kind of globally, there's a shift specifically. And I just center on people with disabilities, because that's obviously my background. There's a shift globally towards acknowledging, for example, that society that disables people, because we haven't designed systems and institutions that are inclusive and accessible for people with disabilities. And I would expound upon that, and say that type of discrimination does happen across each intersection. So that can extend into sexual preference sometimes, or not sometimes it can extend to gender, it can extend into race and ethnicity, etc. And I think there's a general lack of awareness around those social power structures, and the ways that they can create accessibility and inclusion barriers for all diverse people. That's not a phenomenon that's exclusive to Asia at all, that is a global phenomenon. But I would say awareness about this is a different scale to what I've experienced in Australia, for example, or some more mature regions as well. And again, that's understandable and expected. But for me, awareness seems to be a very big barrier. It means that there's a lot of ground up education that needs to take place. And that can often take a lot of time. And the reality is, particularly with the increase of digital communication, there's some very urgent needs to attend to some real significant needs that create barriers that literally hinder people's human rights. So they're very urgent sort of impacts that need to be tended to. So that's my perspective, that's certainly a big challenge that I work through in my work on a daily basis. So it's certainly something that keeps me up at night. I'm Dominica and I'm done speaking.

Jeremy Au: (08:28)

Jean, then Daniel.

Jean: (08:29)

Yeah, I agree with what Dominica said. You know everything that she said just resonated with me, I see that almost every day across countries and regions and companies and cultures. And to add to that, I think that openness within the mindset and the priorities of corporations and organisations, I think there's a lack of openness in experimenting and exploring the talents and the potentials that other genders are their cultures or other educational backgrounds or even professional experiences. I think there's a big gap within that just openness within the organisations. And then as far as the individuals as far as the professionals and the very people who are curious about either joining the technology space or shifting careers or just jumping into something new so that they can be prepared for the big technological world or what we're wherever we are heading into as a species, as an industry. I think the lack of awareness on the individual level, I think their lack of awareness in their opportunities to learn something new or to shift careers, and just the courage to start talking to people and networking in and actually getting their feet wet. So for example, I come from a very low tech background, but I'm now swimming in the big sea of AI, and I just started recently. So I think that amount of courage within the individuals have to be nurtured. And so I don't see this as a as like a problem of nations only, or the government or organisations or within the individual level, I think it's a holistic problem that that is fortunately something that we can all address together.

Daniel: (10:25)

Hi, this is Daniel speaking. I totally agree with the two of you. Accessibility is not something that everybody thinks about. I think one of the main societal issues is that awareness always false on disabled people, or people who work with people with disabilities to educate the public from people, from employers, to developers, to content creators to everybody on here. And what are we doing to make sure that our content or our things that we develop is accessible to everyone. For people who have low visuals, people out deaf or hard of hearing, to even people that do create stuff. When you design a website, when you design a product, or you start a service, are you doing anything to become more accessible in the individual level? And of course, also in the more systemic issues, and even go all the way up to legislative work. I think Dominica will also talk a little bit about this later about how accessibility is not always a standard all over the world. I think we can even start talking about the different countries, for example, in Singapore. Accessibility isn't a right and it's not something that is mandatory in Singapore. For example, a deaf person can attend a school, or attend a course and pay way more than whatever they paid for the course fees for access. I've personally seen such things as well as in Singapore. But on the other hand, when you look at places like America or Australia, it is all funded and the responsibilities don't fall on the persons with disabilities themselves. They fall on either the organisations, the school, institutions, or the government even pays for that. So there's still so much to do. And if you really think of the question, are we there yet? Definitely not. And I still think that we have a lot of work to do in that space.

Jeremy Au: (12:22)

There's something that's a lot of truth there, which is about talking about diversity. You talk about inclusion, we talk accessibility, we talked about class, we talked about gender, we talked about nationality, we talked about ability, handicaps and accessibility in that context. Why and how is it different in Southeast Asia versus the world because I open up Forbes or Fortune or New York Times, and obviously, I'm consuming all this content around the need for diversity, inclusion and accessibility? But how is that story, the American view of the consumer in the media, how is that different from the reality of Southeast Asia? How is that different? I'd love to hear from Jean. And Daniel, if you'd like to comment.

Jean: (13:06)

I think it has a lot to do with the cultural and historical roots of the regions. Speaking as a Filipino, the nation has been conquered for centuries by several countries historically. And so the mindset in general, we're a small nation, we cannot do this. There's a very restrictive connotation and mindset that has trickled on to the current generation. Although that's already starting to shift. There's still a lot of work to do there. This just starts on individual level, as far as how they're educated, how they were brought up to depending on the economical class, depending on the educational background that individuals are given. But as far as the American mindset is concerned, having worked within that space for a long time, I see that and I'm not even speaking about the historical background of the US. It's just a completely opposite polarity. As far as the mindset, Americans think that you can shoot for the moon or the stars, which is very far from what traditionally Filipinos think. And so I think that is on the surface, one of the biggest barriers to why accessibility is not something that's comfortably tackled within this space or area of the region.

Dominica: (14:37)

Jean really kind of leans into the point of the kind of foundation from an ideological standpoint, and that's influenced by culture and beliefs in history and a variety of things. And then that manifests at a policy level. And what we see traditionally at a policy level, is that sort of ideological, all those ideological views, they manifest through policy. And I can give you one example in disability, for instance, where globally there is the UN Convention of Human rights of persons with a disability and that that at the UN level, a significant amount of countries have ratified that declaration. Singapore is one of those countries, many countries throughout Asia, have also ratified that. Within the articles within that declaration, there are certain standards or agreements that are outline that each country who's ratified is essentially saying we would adhere to deliver some action on. Accessibility, for example, I think his Article Nine off the top of my head, it kind of outlines or defines that the state is responsible for accessibility, because the declaration acknowledges that it is society that disables people. And therefore, the responsibility lands on the state to fix that issue. Because it's a breach of human rights. So when that's ratified, there's a sort of agreement that that's going to take place. But of course, there's nothing to enforce that. And the only thing that does sort of enforce that in I guess, turn that into action, comes back to what those cultural priorities are, and ideologies, what have you. And there is a trend for all the reasons that Jean mentioned as to why you don't see that that type of progress take place throughout Asia, again, I can only speak for disability. There are examples throughout some regions, some countries across Asia, where disability is viewed as even being possessed by like a spirit, for example. And that can all have an impact on what then happens at a policy level and more broadly, on a societal level. And so there's a lot of that, and a lot of remnants of that still in policy that is working to be, I guess, dismantled, here and now, but there is a lot of work to be done to dismantle a lot of that ideology from policy. And then to sort of shape the governance for each sort of country that then trickles down into society and, and enables society to become more consciously aware. Again, I use the example of disability by similar comparisons can be drawn, where there are gender inequalities, where there are inequalities for sexual orientation, etc. Again, that comes down to all those foundational things that Jean mentioned about culture and ideology.

Jeremy Au: (17:41)

I'd like to welcome Haley as well. She's actually one of the speakers here. She also represents a company and startup that's tackling diversity representation in Southeast Asia. So would you like to introduce yourself, Haley?

Haley: (17:52)

Hi, Jeremy, thanks for the invite. I wasn't actually planning on speaking, but definitely happy to take the opportunity. So my name is Haley Baker, and I'm the founder of a company called I have a background in engineering and in financial services, but actually made the leap to set up a tech platform to help companies increase the diversity of their employees through the hiring process, I'd have worked in this space informally and formally across Europe and Southeast Asia. And I definitely do see significant differences in the way that companies approach diversity and the aspects of diversity that they're open to talk about, but also prioritize speaking more on the kind of outward trends to diversity, for instance, or where we're speaking about what you see at the start, like gender, ethnicity, and age and these kinds of things. But even things like disability, to your example earlier is we find that in Southeast Asia, a lot of companies and people are very open to speak about gender. And I mean, Singapore has now launched the year of women. So that's great to see. But the other types of diversity are definitely not at that same level of maturity. Whereas obviously, given Black Lives Matters. And similar trends in Europe, race has come to the forefront. And I think in Asia, there's still this sense that are no, but that doesn't really apply here. Whereas if you look at individual country levels, while there isn't one uniform race that is underrepresented, or minority or facing challenges, in every country, there are those groups that we need to start looking at. And similarly, I think age is an important element to consider where everyone's going to be old at some point in time. It's a type of almost bias and discrimination that anyone will or could face in their lives. And I think it's one that there's very, very little awareness for across this region as well.

Jeremy Au: (19:53)

Well, thanks for that. So let me just paraphrase that. So what I'm hearing is that the differences between what you've read in the news about diversity and inclusion accessibility is that firstly, you know, Southeast Asia does have a history of colonialism. And that's obviously not uncommon across the world in many places, but is uniqueness as that is not necessarily represented or spoken from a first person perspective in the Western media perspective. For example, the BBC can talk about colonialism, but it's very different perspective from the Philippines or Singapore, India. And of course, the second layer that we're talking about, of course, is that different countries have different layers of understandings and prioritization of the definition of human rights as defined by the UN or defined by popular culture, different countries. And of course, Haley is talking a little bit about this actually, differing levels of understanding and acceptance of different types of diversity and inclusion accessibility. So it's kind of like, gets kind of like Nisha, as it goes in. I think also, one thing I'd like to pick up on as well. And I think we kind of like competent or rounded about it, but also like Southeast Asia is not one country. You know, it's a lot of different countries, a lot of different cultures, have a lot of different history and interaction moments. And so that causes this dynamic where someone can be a majority of one country, it can be a minority in the country. And so to some extent, I think in Southeast Asia definition of majority is often like defined by which country or which geography which vertical we're looking at. And so that tends to like, as a result, I think when you see Diversity, Inclusion Accessibility in America, then I think it's often coded to be like, we need more representation as it agendas, we need more representation in different cultures. Whereas that's not so true at the aggregate Southeast Asia level. What do you think about that?

Dominica: (21:46)

Yeah, I think that's a great summary, Jeremy. And I definitely agree. I do think globally, when we talk about diversity, inclusion and accessibility, I think it is still a topic that we're unpacking and understanding as a collective. And I do think there's opportunities to deepen our understanding and awareness around what diversity inclusion and accessibility really means. And I think that's taking place. But I do think, you know, it is safe to say that as we've highlighted, each country and region are at very different places. But as much as there's that disparity in fragmentation, I also think that offers a really big opportunity and even to align some standards globally and to build our knowledge and understanding around what diversity, what inclusion and accessibility really mean. So I just wanted to build on that as much as there's that landscape. I think that also presents a really big opportunity.

Haley: (22:49)

Yeah, and if I may just jump in there. I think when you're speaking about localizing diversity and inclusion, I think it's really important to be mindful of where a country or an industry is in terms of their maturity across that journey, because it's always a very difficult topic to navigate. And I think we need to be aware, not to push to get everyone at the same level too fast. And this is something that I've seen a lot of conversations with companies across the globe, is that if you push too fast, you want everyone to get to one level of understanding and priorities. A lot of companies or countries might just drop out. So we're not ready. We're not culturally, socially, politically, organisationally, we're not there yet. So we're just not going to proceed. So I think localizing not only on what are the types of diversity that we're open to and sexual orientation might not be something that everyone's open to everywhere at the same time? But also, what does diversity of gender mean? Is it just male, female? Do we consider gender fluid as an option, you know, and if we push some places too hard, we might just lose them. And I think it's important to keep everyone moving forward at least.

Daniel: (24:04)

Hi, this is Daniel. Thanks so much, Haley. I really want to bring a great point today, actually, that not every time for you goes at the same speed. Some go slower, some way more accessible than other countries, for example, the countries that I've mentioned earlier. I think one thing that was really important is that we can look at other countries and use that as a model for what our country is working on. For example, in diversity and inclusion, looking at the laws in Australia and see how that can be maybe modified or adapted to fit the landscape that is in Southeast Asia. I think you may have seen a lot of legislative work and policies that are way more advanced in other countries than countries in Southeast Asia, for example, and I think even both at the policy level and legislative level, and like more of the companies and all the different employers and whatever that mindsets are as well. Other countries are way more ahead. And some of them are way behind, especially in Southeast Asia. I think Southeast Asia need to work on a lot of things in terms of legislative work, as well as attitudes and mindsets an individual level as well.

Jean: (25:17)

Yeah, I wanted to quote one of the things that Dominica said about the level of understanding of the different nations, so as far as diversity just exactly what we're talking about. So it's in the human rights, for example, it has a different meaning, when we think about the Philippines versus Singapore versus the US. So as an example, I was made aware of a recent job interview, where the company was taking active tangible practical steps towards hiring other genders or other educational backgrounds or just really incorporating the whole diverse mindset. But the questions being asked to the candidate were actually more discriminatory. So the organisation was coming from a good place where they really want to find and capture that talent, but because of their current understanding of whether it's diversity or accessibility or inclusion, it's not putting them in a place where they're asking the right questions and looking at the right places for the talent that they're looking for. So I liked that Dominica pointed that out.

Jeremy Au: (26:28)

I think it's really about something here, which is about speed, it's about the ability to manage change and to articulate that, and it's both at a country level and the cultural level, but also is at a company level and the individual level as well. So I think, obviously, we're talking at a very macro level. We're talking as if the way New York Times write about diversity, inclusion, accessibility, but let's get a little bit more specific. And when we think about technology in Southeast Asia, so what are the challenges that we think are priorities for employers to be thinking about and be mindful of in this sphere?

Haley: (27:06)

When it comes to tech and diversity inclusion, there are a couple of trends that I definitely always see is, on the one hand, can we use tech to reduce human biases? In for instance, the hiring process is one example. But at the same time be aware, are we introducing new biases through the tech that we use, and one clear area where you see this a lot is in terms of assessments and selection of applicants throughout the process. And a lot of people these days in the tech industry are using coding assignments. But even across other industries, we're seeing increasingly assessment psychometric or other being used. And on the one hand, that's great, because we get an objective scoring that isn't based on a human judgment. But at the same time, we need to be really mindful of whether these assessments are accurately reflecting what defines a successful applicant or candidate for a job, or whether there's no inherent bias that's been incorporated in setting up those assessments in the first place. So this is an area that I'm definitely really fascinated by. A lot of companies are working across kind of that hiring pipeline, and always weighing a balance between removing the human biases that were generally come to a consensus that exists and that even as many unconscious bias trainings that we throw at it will not be eliminated, but ensuring that we do put the right tech in place to resolve that rather than to worsen the issues that we're seeing.

Jeremy Au: (28:34)


Dominica: (28:35)

Yes, I guess, again, coming from a disability lens, which is the space that I work in advocate in, pertaining to Southeast Asia, I can give you an example, for the deaf and hard of hearing community, which is where we specifically focus at the moment. So 44 of the 48 countries in Asia don't have any telecommunication relay services for deaf and hard of hearing people. And that's a range of different technology and human support that provide, you know, accessibility for people who are deaf or hard of hearing, and would like to make phone calls. And that extends into accessibility solutions for digital communications as well. Obviously, that's a major barrier. I think that goes without saying that mitigates their ability in many ways to participate socially, economically and politically. Daniel mentioned earlier, one of the biggest challenges and problems really is that an issue like that tends to fall on the individual who has the disability. As we've highlighted, there's a need for the whole ecosystem to play a role. It's not up to that individual. So I guess people who are deaf and hard of hearing have to navigate a lack of technical functionalities that support them to be able to communicate via Telecommunication or digital communicate. The access to the accessibility support that require a human touch often aren't available. And that blending of those types of supports, or augmentation of those types of excess human accessibility support coupled with technology isn't there. And the reason why I point that out is because often when companies or government do try to solve this problem, there's just the emphasis on just the technology being the solution. Whereas we know that the problem needs to be solved how the problem needs to be solved. And at the moment, technology on its own isn't always the solution. So again, that comes down to that awareness. And I think that's where the lack of inclusion comes into it. Because what that signals to me is a lack of inclusion in the design of products and services that a design for people, so specifically technology in this example, there's a lack of inclusion and diversity in the thinking and designing and problem solving stages. And that results in gaps much later on that don't become a priority once a company or product or service may be scaling and focusing on other areas of interests. Whereas really, this needs to be something that's embedded into the core design to begin with. So that risk having that lack of inclusion and accessibility from the get go. I can use clubhouse as an example right when the clubhouse launch, it wasn't accessible for people who were deaf and hard of hearing. In many ways, I understand there are still challenges and barriers for people who are deaf and hard of hearing. I do think clubhouse has probably been a bit more responsive. There may be some other solutions that I've seen, kind of scale and grow as fast as clubhouse has. But I think that that is just reflective of the comments that I'm making that earlier on these things need to be sort of thought of, and included much sooner rather than later, because then we see that it sort of gets left out. Again, for me, it's about the awareness. And I think it also then comes down to having a social conscience, Jeremy, really, what is the impact of an organisation? If it doesn't center around inclusion of all members of society then what are we here for at the end of the day? So that's my two cents on that.

Daniel: (32:25)

Hi, this is Daniel. Thanks a lot, Dominica. I think brings up a really great point, having technology isn't always the solution for people that are deaf or disabled. I think it's very important for everybody to take note of the sensitivities of the disabled community and also be aware. I think what's really important also is that we got to include deaf and disabled people in the designing and development of products and services, as well as processes. I think one really good example I can think of right now is the development of sign language recognition gloves. I think you may have seen them on Facebook, where maybe some project from a university in America have somebody designing gloves that can recognize Sign Language alphabet. And everybody's probably like, “Oh wow, this is really cool. Why don't we put money into that and develop that more?” But also think of it in the other perspective as a deaf person would you want to be imposed by the hearing community to wear this ridiculous glass? Other than that, of course, it doesn't take into account the other aspects of sign language. Sign language also incorporates facial expressions and other nonmetal markers. It's a really complex language, and gloves themselves don't unable to solve the real root of the problem, which is that accessibility isn't there. For example, why would you want to use his gloves instead of hiring an interpreter, also looking at computer or AI generated live captions? You may have seen recently, YouTube in a couple of months ago has stripped all the community contributed captions on YouTube, and they all default into auto generated captions. And these captions also censor bad words. And that's not at any level a form of decent accessibility for people with over a deaf or hard of hearing. And you're looking at other countries, like I mentioned earlier, what other technologies, what other solutions there is? There's so much more things we can focus on, so many more solutions that we could use for live captioning. For example, in the BBC, since 2001, have been using this thing called re-speaking for live captioning for the Television and Broadcasting Services. Re-speaking is where a speaker would train their voice to a computer where the computer will only recognize his or her voice. And the guy will just listen to the program and re-speak it in a robotic voice so that the computer can recognize it. And that makes such accurate captions. And I think the main point is that we have to start thinking or be more sensitive to the deaf and disabled communities, be educated in all these different solutions and how to make your work and processes and products and design and products and services more accessible.

Jean: (35:16)

I'm thinking from a recruitment perspective, I love what Daniel, Haley, and Dominica all said about all the different angles and aspects of the business. And I guess the human mind also. It reminded me of how I always wished for three things. So I wish that organisations will adopt technology more and more, because even within this explosion of innovation in a lot of companies around the world, not just in the US, but even in Southeast Asia, in the middle of all of this explosive technology and innovation, there's still a lot of them, that are still far behind from joining the bandwagon of whether it's automation, or using all of these smart technologies or AI, Machine Learning whatever it is, there's still a very good handful of them that have not even scratched the surface or have not even explored adopting these so that they can enable their existing balance, or hire more diversely more inclusively, and more excessively hire more people, whether it's from various genders or culture, ethnicities, or, or abilities. So I wish there's more of that within the organisations and companies that are hiring or maybe transforming their culture within the workspace. And then the second thing that I am really hoping would start to have and I think already starting to happen is that universal approach and mindset to looking at the workforce, the talent, the workplace, what I mean by that, very often, when people or organisations hire, balance, they think monotonously, where we're hiring a software engineer, it's probably going to be a guy or we're hiring, I don't know, HR manager, maybe we're hiring a woman. It's there's that nonverbal kind of bias, prejudice expectation, maybe we can call it whatever. But if we if we adopt a more universal approach to that, where we can look beyond the physical and just look at the mind of the person of the potential candidate and the heart, we can find the talent, and then get our resources going so that we can hire them and make the workplace accessible, whether it's spending more money on these devices that can help deaf balance, or, or anyone instead of finding someone, but then seeing a disability as a hindrance to hiring them. That's my take on that.

Haley: (38:04)

If I may just jump in on that. I loved how all the points that you just described are part of what we're trying to address. And to your point around kind of thinking stereotypically, what you see in most organisations is that they do look to hire someone based on what they think a person in that role would look like. And what they base that on a lot of the times is based on what the current people who are in that role look like. So to your point, if they're hiring a software engineer, they will look around at the software engineers, they have random, and not only conclude on things on is that a man is he a young man year, all those kinds of things, but also, oftentimes the personality types that someone has, and that applies to all kinds of roles, and those are exactly the biases that need to be addressed. And some of those that we're using technology to do that starts even with the language that you use, when you speak about your role. We find a lot of young tech companies, they'll put in their job description things like how cool they are and grab a beer on a Friday kind of culture. And all kinds of these phrases that I don't think they're even aware that they're using that actually might not appeal to the broadest audience and probably might even deter underrepresented groups for them, whether that's women or older people or parent people with children who go, I'm not sure if I'll fit in with that culture of that company. And therefore they will continue to attract the same kind of people continuously. So I think language is something and it's also about a mindset, but it's something that we have developed tools that can help create an awareness for what kind of language you're putting out into the world and what kind of people that might attract. And to your second point around finding that talent pool. And I think clubhouse is a really interesting example of that. I think, Dominica, you mentioned, is becoming inclusive for people with disability. But if we look at the clubhouse model, it is by definition not inclusive, it's on an invite only basis, essentially, especially at the start, you'll attract only a similar type of person. And that's what companies do a lot of times as well. They attract people and especially young companies from their network, which means they start continuously attracting similar type of people from similar backgrounds from similar universities. And again, I think tech can play an amazing role in opening up all these communities, whether it's via job boards, or social platforms, or whatever it is, and broadening the reach that companies have to diverse and different talents are what they're currently reaching. There's an enormous opportunity there. Thanks for taking.

Dominica: (40:37)

I would love to build on something if I may, Jeremy.

Jeremy Au: (41:41)

Yeah, please go ahead.

Dominica: (41:42)

Thank you. I would love to take the opportunity to just really build on several of the points that you made, Haley. And I think, just sort of bring it all the way back because one of the things you said was mindset, this shift in mindset. So if we think about mindset, and the ideology that underpins the mindset, and kind of reverse engineer and sort of take it back to sort of where and how this discrimination became a structure, or a system to begin with, it begins when we look at the structure of hierarchy and what influences ideology that pushes towards creating systems of hierarchy. And in a societal sense, especially in a societal system, where we know that there are influences such as patriarchy, such as white supremacy, such as capitalism, such as imperialism, etc, the hierarchies start to become very much dependent on those dominant, I guess identities, for lack of better term. The privilege that those demographics rather receive as a result of that system, and how that system benefits, I guess those that have that advantage and that privilege to begin with. And ultimately, what that creates is, this is a hierarchy of social power, and social power being how far up that that ladder of social power that you kind of belong, based on you know, how close you either identify with those demographics or how well you assimilate towards the ideals of them. If we take the workplace, for example, that same ideology sort of is what birthed the idea of human being resources. And the idea of talent, the kind of origins of the word talent was about measurement of silver and gold, it was literally like the measurement of a resource. And so I guess that to me, demonstrates that humans were looked at as a resource in the workplace sort of structure and system. And if you look at the advocacy of human rights, sort of reducing people to resources or mechanics, is literally the definition of dehumanization. So we know that fundamentally, these ideologies that sort of built the work cultures and structures of today have been built on these ideas that very much have pervaded over the years. They've become internalized, normalized, and socialized structures and behaviors that have perpetuated and ultimately in more in today's sort of environment ended up being manifested as discrimination, and all the ways we've spoken about that then internally manifest as micro aggressions that continuously perpetuate these really damaging ideas about social power and status, and etc, etc. So I raised this point, because if we're going to talk about mindset, I think we really have to go back to what's created the mindset of today, and really address the past and how we've gotten to where we are. And really, therefore, look at the cultures that have been born out of those older ideas that no longer serve us, and really start to challenge ourselves around the way we redesign culture that therefore doesn't discriminate. Therefore, is really based on real diversity, real inclusion and real accessibility. And with that, I'm Dominica, and I'm done speaking.

Jeremy Au: (44:06)

That's great to hear that really stirring a call to action here. And you know, as we start to wrap things up here, or comes to a close. I would love to go roundtable this year. Has there been you know, we've been talking at the macro level, the regional level, the company level, and I was just wondering at a personal level, obviously, this is a recorded industry level your podcast, but if anyone is open to share instances where you've observed for experience, issues of diversity, inclusion, accessibility?

Jean: (44:35)

For sure, too many times. Being a woman, Asian, non-tech background, I have had my share of discrimination. And I call it this discrete because I've been hired in a few places were in a senior leadership role and so people within the team or teams would be very passive aggressive about the executive team's decision to hire someone like me. And so that never deterred me just really always have motivated me to push on. It's one of the things that motivated me to give birth to this startup that I'm building called in silence. So there's a lot of accessibility talk to that, as far as the economic, educational and gender challenges are concerned. So definitely. But I've also heard so, and seen firsthand, so many, so many of these bridge these interactions. And this is regardless of the educational background, even as long as for women, there's a certain stigma, there's for the LGBTQ community, there's a different set of prejudices. And I've had a brother who was disabled, and had his own fair share of disparities in in even the just the day to day choices that he can make. But it's beautiful in that it's creating tangible actions across the world where now, more women are finding their own companies or more, more voices are being heard. And actually, more men are embracing and supporting, and even helping uplift, the unheard the voiceless “underrepresented”.

Dominica: (46:31)

As a female, I've certainly experienced or been on the receiving end of gender discrimination. In Australia, I certainly didn't have this experience in Asia, but in Australia, I come from a culturally diverse background. So I've certainly experienced the likes of xenophobia. And that's my own sort of personal experiences. What I will say, again, to sort of highlight some of the challenges for deaf and hard of hearing people, I'll give you some of the real practical day to day challenges they face if they have a suspicious transaction on their account. And they need to call the bank, their options are to wait for a family or a friend who can help them, they can use a chat service, often there's only a limited number of sort of, or a limited amount of, or limited type of inquiries you can make on those channels or your resort to email. And that's like a few days back and forth. So their options are to do those things or to literally go down to the branch, the Singapore government released a series of hotlines to provide psychological and emotional support during COVID, and emergency type support, they were all hotlines, they were all one 800 phone numbers, which means that, again, if you are deaf or hard of hearing, the relay services you need aren't available. So you literally can't even use those services. Again, unless if you depend on a family or friend. If you get stuck in the lift, most of the options are to make a phone call. All of the emergency services at the moment are predominantly phone call only, you can do an SMS, but you must be registered first. So if you're not registered, and you find yourself in an emergency, you have to register while you're in the middle of an emergency and then be able to message that's just not really feasible. So that is a form of serious discrimination and ultimately breach of human rights because of that inability to fully participate in life in the way that the rest of us can access to communication is a human right. So it is a human right. So I definitely say and that's just in Singapore, again, I mentioned earlier 44 out of the 48 countries in Asia, don't have a relay service. So that's representative of 170 million people. And that's just deaf and hard of hearing alone. That doesn't extend into the other disability. So it's a pretty big issue.

Daniel: (48:52)

I just want to quickly add to that. So Dominica, I'm so glad to report that registration thing for deaf and hard of hearing people to text the police has been decommissioned is no longer in service. Because the Singapore Police Force, just replace that because of the whole SG secure like terrorist thing a couple last couple years. It’s now open to the public 719. I think you may have seen it all over like the news, actually secure apps and things like that. They can text the police now, which is great. It's also brings to the point that the deaf and hard of hearing community struggle so much with communication and a lot of access to services because we are predominantly hearing well, everything's designed for hearing people. And we always assumed everybody can hear you when you approach a stranger you obviously speak to them. You don't assume that they may be annoying you because they're deaf and probably because they're rude. That's the first thing that you think about. And I think accessibility is something that really needs to be pounded into everybody's head from things like just clubhouse, for example. It was first conceived and developed without accessibility in mind, in terms of for the people who are blind, or people who are deaf, the users themselves. And I think it's been great to see like work in the community. If you look at the followed by the speaker's list, Adriana down there. She's one of the founders of the 15 person club. And that 15% club has actually worked together with people who are deaf and blind and disable. Everybody on the clubhouse, they come together and work together to actually influence the clubhouse developers, the iOS engineer actually came in one of the rooms and talked about it. And you have seen so much accessibility advanced in this app in the last couple of months, the last couple of updates, things like that need to keep going. And I think it's very important to empower the voices of deaf and disabled people all over the world, and listen to them and work with them to develop everything. I think, as a selection in Singapore, I've seen firsthand how many deaf people get rudely and discriminate rudely and non-discriminated against everywhere from hospitals, writing the incorrect offensive term on the appointment sheets, or calling them deaf and dumb, and deaf people aren't dumb. I think education is such an important thing. I think we need more people to be involved and to listen and empower these people.

Jeremy Au: (51:15)


Haley: (51:16)

Okay. I wasn't sure if an interest of time was fine to skip it. I guess if you ask most women, whether they've faced any personal stories around diversity and inclusion, the answer will usually be, I've definitely say the same working in mostly male dominated areas. Some very concrete examples there are turning up at a meeting and then being asked if the partner at the firm that I worked at, had brought the secretary along. So these kinds of things, I kind of brushed them off and laugh about them. But obviously, it's not funny at all, it all goes back to the mindset on what defines a person to attend that meeting and or what is leadership looks like. But at the same time, I am seeing a lot of improvement across organisations that I'm working with, especially on the gender diversity aspects. And increasingly within the workforce, I've actually felt almost due to positive discrimination that there was seemed like that it was almost an advantage, although there were still these inherent biases that you had to deal with. As I mentioned before, what I'm seeing more and more, and especially has been set up and hired a lot of tech teams in the last couple of years, is the age discrimination. And that's something that same as disability. I think, has not been as much at the forefront, and especially in this region, which is equally important. Because in the tech issue, what I'm seeing a lot of times is saying, they’re too old. They’re too old for what? No, they won't be able to learn quickly. And again, these are all kind of shortcuts that we make in our mind that if someone's over a certain age, they convert and pick up new skills, or think there's a lot of tweaking and rejigging of our the assumption that we're making, that will benefit everyone as we go. Thanks, to all speaking.

Jeremy Au: (53:00)

Thank you so much for this briefly sharing your own personal experiences. Investing spirit, you know, for myself, obviously, been someone who's been drifting between countries for work. And one of the things I've noticed is that obviously in one place, I'm Singapore, in many ways, I can be seen to be in the majority. And then I'm in the states and I'm the minority in different contexts. And so that does give me a deeper appreciation about what's going on. And I think about how to deal with some of that context, as an Asian immigrant in a state kind of dealing with tough discussions and so forth. And it was interesting to deal with that. But definitely, as the pandemic was starting, it was definitely starting to spike quite a bit actually, definitely got harassed in the street a couple of times. So I think it was just an interesting set of experiences for everybody.

Jean: (54:02)

Thank you, Jeremy. I like what you said about remembering how everybody is somebody being loved by somebody. It brings to the surface that that we're all humans, and you know, we should start looking beyond the physical and the “limitations”. And thank you for holding this room, Jeremy, in such a very relevant, important, essential conversation. And thank you Dominica, Daniel and Haley, learned a lot.

Dominica: (54:33)

Yeah, I definitely want to say thank you to, Jeremy, for hosting the room and using your platform, as a way an opportunity for us to be able to speak about topics that really matter, but represent stories and challenges and voices that often aren't heard in spaces like this. So I really want to thank you for agreeing to do that and using your platform in such a positive way. So I appreciate you.

Daniel: (54:55)

Yeah, thank you so much for holding this Jeremy and thanks to Dominica for inviting me to join this room and talk about things that really is important and people should talk more about. Thanks to, Jeremy, and Haley speaking to as well.

Haley: (55:09)

Thank you everyone. I dropped in last minute, but it was really lovely meeting everyone. And thanks to the audience for joining in the evening there.

Jeremy Au: (55:16)

Thank you so much. And one word from me, it's just really gratitude. Gratitude for all that you shared and hopefully, is a good reminder, not just for everyone here but also for myself in the days ahead.