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A picture of Fitya Menzani Diah, an Australian alumna

02 Feb 2023

Fitya Menzani Diah Walks the Talk of Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment

"Love what you do" is the mantra that kept Fitya Menzani Diah going over the past 12 years as she climbed the career ladder at Gojek Indonesia, the “decacorn” ride-hailing company.

Now the Vice President of Community Experience, she attracted the attention of Gojek founder and current Education and Culture Minister Nadiem Makarim for her skill and experience as a personnel manager.

"He asked me to join as a personnel manager in 2011 before I became a marketing manager. I said yes because Gojek upholds equality and diversity,” said Sam, as she is affectionately called.

Sam has experienced discrimination because of her gender and sartorial choices that do not conform to social norms. In previous workplaces, her ability as a camera operator was questioned by male team members.

Moreover, as with many working mothers, Sam's need for a healthy “work-life balance” resulted in her being asked to find a “male manager” to replace her. Fortunately, such issues are now a thing of the past and she could focus on growing the company.

Sam joined Gojek when the office was still in a small garage. Every day before going to work, she charged her laptop battery and worked from a car parked in front of the office to make space for other employees. A year later, she was appointed general manager, where she basically had to take care of everything.

"I did many things, from paying taxes to promoting Gojek. Once I was chased by angry motorbike taxi drivers after I asked them to join our company. It was an unforgettable moment," explained Sam.

The relationship with the drivers, whose numbers have been growing ever since has improved immensely and become one of the main motivations for Sam staying at the company.

“Our relationship is the one that feeds my soul. Once, a driver came up to me, saying he could now buy new shoes or pay for his children’s tuition again (after joining Gojek). It really tugged at my heartstrings,” said Sam.

Sam created development programs for the drivers and took charge of their welfare, particularly during her position as Vice President of Dynamic Culture.

"One of the programs was a cooking class for the drivers' wife to enable them to start a home-based food business,” she said.

Learning to Speak Up About Gender Equality

In previous roles as a cameraperson and senior production assistant. Sam was coerced to dress in a more feminine style and was groped by a colleague. When she reported the incident, her female supervisor laughed it off, saying, “That’s why you need to be more attractive.”

But Sam had experienced the proper handling of sexual violence cases during her time studying broadcasting at Broadcast Operation, Film, and TV Central Metropolitan College of TAFE in Perth in 1996.

"My life changed a lot while in Perth. First, I got my nickname, Sam, after a professor accidentally called me that. I could also be my true self there. I was accepted with open arms and was taught everything I needed,” she said.

When Sam experienced harassment at a college in Perth, she was initially reluctant to report the incident. But she grew more uncomfortable and anxious seeing the perpetrator roam freely and still tried to interact with her. Finally, Sam had the courage to file a report to the college, which immediately provided a safe space and put boundaries between the survivor and the perpetrator.

Women Supporting Women

The experiences made Sam committed to supporting women, as she thinks gender equality has not been correctly understood until now.

“We still distinguish between female and male leaders while we shouldn’t. Competence and capability for being a leader are not limited to males or females. Every industry should have a safe space for women," said Sam.

She said that supporting women also means giving them freedom, such as creating flexible working hours, something that Sam always offers to women employees.

"We need to understand their situations if we're going to hire women. Don't just talk about equality without understanding them. I have been there. I was forced to choose between my job and taking care of my children while we don’t have to be put in that situation,” Sam concluded.

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