Going into Malaysian Pay Gap’s Work Slayer Summit, I was geared up to have a long, exhausting day of work.
Don’t get me wrong—all the talks, panels, and workshops sounded intriguing, sure. But it was a Saturday morning after a long week, and I was there with a goal to cover the event as a writer, not really to be a “work slayer” myself.
Yet, more than nine hours later, I found myself having just enjoyed one of the best conferences (if you could call it that) ever.
First, who’s Malaysian Pay Gap?
If Malaysian Pay Gap (MPG for short) isn’t a familiar name to you, there are at least 200,000 people who can’t say the same, and that’s a conservative number, considering their follower count on just Instagram is at 239k.
Malaysian Pay Gap went viral shortly after its inception in early 2022, for “exposing” anonymous employees’ salaries that were sent in consensually. The goal was to advocate for wage transparency and the break taboo associated with talking about salaries.
Last year, we checked in with Prestine Davekhaw, the creator of MPG, to see how things were going for her. At the time, she told us about creating a corporate worker summit unlike any other.
From what I’ve observed, events for corporate workers are commonly things like job fairs and trade shows. Other conferences cater to entrepreneurs and policy-level people, and not the everyday worker. Prestine wanted to create something that everyone could join.
At the time, I wondered what that event would look like. One year later, I found my answer in the Work Slayer Summit.
A day of camaraderie and learning
Held at Taylor’s University Lakeside Campus’ Grand Hall, the first day of Work Slayer Summit opened registrations at 8AM.
Despite the early call-time, there were already a lot of people in attendance (373 people, I later learnt).
With how busy the place was, it was hard finding a seat after I got my latte from Koppiku, one of the homegrown vendors there alongside brands like In The Pink Co. , Amazin’ Graze, and VickedGood Vegan Bakery.
In other conferences I’ve attended, a fair amount of vendors tend to be sponsors who can be, no offence, rather boring. But at the Work Slayer Summit, it felt very intentional and curated.
Something else that was intentionally curated was the lineup of topics of the day, which were all very relevant and. They were:
- Corporate Ladder 101: How to Climb Ethically?
- Job Hopping: Who is the Real Loser?
- Getting the Most Out of Your Paycheck
- Never too Late: How To Switch Career?
- Labor Lawyer Answering Burning Questions
There were also networking and negotiation workshops and demonstrations, alongside a professional clothes swap at the end.
Now, I’ve attended a number of conferences, many designed for entrepreneurs and decision makers in mind. In my experience, at least one or two of the talks during these conferences can come off… self-serving, to say the least.
However, at the Work Slayer Summit, a sense of genuine camaraderie was palpable between speakers and guests. The learnings were real, practical, and beyond all, entertaining. Many panellists stayed and talked to curious participants for a while.
On that note, I believe the emcees, moderators, and speakers were very well-selected.
I’ve been to events where some guests look like they don’t want to be on stage at all. I’ve seen moderators who don’t appear to know what they’re even talking about. At Work Slayer Summit, I didn’t see this issue at all. I caught wind that some speakers got on calls prior to the event to hash out talking points.
This is due in no small part to MPG’s efforts. According to Prestine, MPG rolled out multiple surveys to collect data on what people hope to see more in a conference, as well as what they hate about most conferences.
It’s clear to me that Work Slayer Summit actually applied the feedback.
Today’s workers want more
After the first talk, I was quickly adopted into a ragtag group of attendees from various industries. Over lunch (featuring vegetarian meals from Pinxin), we exchanged names, workplace stories, and aspirations. It felt like a support group of young professionals finding our place in the world.
Beyond my group of new friends, a big part of the audience was young individuals too, which was surprising.
There’s an assumption, especially from the older generation, that Gen Z “kids” don’t want to work. There was the whole quiet quitting movement, and reports showing that this generation of workers are “hard to work with”.
While that might be true to some, it’s clearly not a label you can put on all young professionals. I realised this as I took stock of all the youngsters at the summit.
All these people were willing to pay more than RM200 to attend a career conference over the weekend (or RM95 for the first day).
They were here, ready to show up to network with industry leaders and peers, learn how to climb the corporate ladder, and be more financially savvy. Some are thinking of making a career jump, or want to understand how to negotiate better pay, all so they can find their dream job.
They were actively going against the conception that young people are lazy or don’t want to put in an effort.
All this to say, young professionals aren’t the problem—the system, which MPG is working to dismantle, is. There’s a lack of transparency in today’s corporate world, a sense of gatekeeping when it comes to career pathways.
Platforms like MPG are bridging the gap that’s existed between your everyday worker to the skills and know-how they need to grow further and faster, providing a roadmap to those who are lost in the corporate maze.
Instead of an enemy to employers and bosses, MPG is actually helping disillusioned workers gain value, inspiration, and clarity to become the true “work slayers” they’re capable of being.
So, on top of empowering today’s employees, MPG is actually beneficial to companies, too. Yet, not many see that. Prestine revealed that convincing companies to come on board with Work Slayer Summit was difficult, as many may not see any value in MPG.
“Several potential leads were turned down by the time the proposal reached senior management, who are clueless about us,” she told us.
But what companies need to know is that, like it or not, what MPG is advocating for reflects the current demands and needs of the young workforce, and they cannot stay clueless forever. They need to keep an eye on these trends and adapt to the changing times.
In any case, I can’t wait to see what Malaysian Pay Gap has in store for the rest of 2024. Prestine said some projects in the pipeline include building a secured website for MPG, expanding into Singapore, and even making a short documentary.
“[There will be] more industry-focused discourse online and offline, more exchanges across generations and career stages,” she concluded.
- Learn more about Malaysian Pay Gap here.
- Read other articles we’ve written about Malaysian startups here.