Zalora Indonesia's Dwi Ajeng on how she sees #MeToo in local context

Last year, the #MeToo movement took the social sphere by storm, as women all over the world started sharing stories how they have suffered injustice as a result of their gender. While sexual abuse was a big theme, there were also reports of gender inequality.

We spoke to Zalora Indonesia's head of marketing Dwi Ajeng on local sentiments as well as the effectiveness of the movement. According to her, Indonesia was ahead of #MeToo and has campaigned against sexual abuse with hashtag #MulaiBicara (#StartSpeaking) since 2016. However, Ajeng felt that the victim-blaming culture holds the movement back from bringing any significant results beyond awareness.

Zooming into the workplace, Ajeng said that there have been efforts to encourage gender diversity and equality in Indonesia, especially in the bigger cities. However, more could be done. She added, "The progress is a bit slow due to growing and mixed reaction towards the topic. Other reasons could stem from Indonesian patriarchal society and those using religion conceptions as their argument." More from her below.

Marketing Interactive: How has Zalora weaved in diversity into its marketing and advertising efforts?

Zalora champions diversity in the content we produce and in the assortment we offer. We’ve been working to include local faces in our marketing campaigns. Furthermore, our annual Make Me a Zalora Model search serves as a platform for aspiring models from Southeast Asia to fast-track their career and break into the modelling scene in the region by being the face of the region’s leading online fashion retailer. This ensures representation in our marketing visuals. This effort is also complemented by our progressive curation of assortment, recently we’ve launched collections that celebrate different body types including Violeta from Mango and modest brand Lubna Curve.

Our "You Own Now" campaign last year is a great representation of this effort of featuring diversity in our campaigns. The concept of "You Own Now" has shaped the Zalora brand and given us a clear and concise narrative. More importantly, "You Own Now" served as Zalora’s north star in articulating the brand’s purpose and identity. Personality-led individual style is at the heart of Zalora and with our extensive collection of global and local collections on our app and websites, people can trust their own voice and let fashion be their expression of individuality.

Marketing Interactive: How is it inclusive, especially in Indonesia where there is a large Muslim community?

In a region where it’s filled with many different cultures and ways of dressing, Zalora is proud to be serving this market and offering an alternative option to style savvy consumers. Zalora identified early on that there is a gap in the Southeast Asia market for trendy, accessible and affordable modest wear. Today, the modern Muslim men and women want to look glamorous and dazzling, especially for special occasions like Raya festivities. Our modest wear private labels Zalia and Lubna aims to meet these demands whilst also injecting the latest runway trends, and packaging all these aspects together in a collection that is sensibly affordable.  We also worked with modest wear designers from Indonesia and Malaysia including the likes of Rizalman.

As Asia’s online fashion retailer, Zalora provides the best of fashion without forgetting the Southeast Asian roots and we aim to dress consumers, not only Muslim consumers, who are demanding for fashionable modest wear that can be worn on various occasions throughout the year as well as the festive season.

Marketing Interactive: Are there any initiatives to empower women within your company?

Because our industry is fashion retail, naturally you will meet plenty of women in the company, including those on high positions. In Zalora, all opportunities are merit based and women compete for the same positions as men based on their performance. Our Zalora group CEO now is also a woman.

Marketing Interactive: What are some of the biggest challenges that female bosses face? Have you experienced any?

I would think that the biggest challenge I have is coming from myself. Indonesian culture and upbringing sometimes influenced my own biases. There were circumstances in my career where I felt like men have more advantages, but it all depends on how you respond to the situation - whether you choose to accept it, or you choose to fight back.

Marketing Interactive: Are there any mantra you go by and want to pass it on to other existing or aspiring female leaders?

“Life is too short to be left unexplored.” It doesn’t matter what your gender is or where you come from, people are bound to encounter different struggles in life. It takes our consent to live a certain way. We are free to make our own choices to use our abilities.

Marketing Interactive: What are your hopes for women in leadership?

Sometimes, a woman’s biggest enemy is another woman. We see each other as competition. We should not. We should be able to support and empower each other.

Read more:
#IWD2019: Challenges plaguing women in the industry that need addressing
#IWD2019 (II): Women in the industry share their views on rising above cynicism
FCB Jakarta’s Sony Nichani on women supporting each other in leadership roles
Wavemaker Indonesia’s Eni Kiswanti on biggest barriers for women in adland
Initiative Indonesia MD Riszti Primula speaks up on equal opportunities for women
Zalora Indonesia’s Dwi Ajeng on how she sees #MeToo in local context

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