According to the World Bank, participation by women in the workforce in Malaysia stands at 46%, which is low by international standards compared to neighbouring countries such as Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand. What do you think are the reasons and how can organisations tackle this situation?
There are several reasons in our opinion.
- Competing priorities between family and career.
- The lack of inclusive work environment that not only allows but embraces diverse opinions, debates and approaches.
- The pyramid like representation of women in the workforce where the population of women gets lesser and lesser as you move up the organization leadership structure.
Again, there are several ways organizations can tackle this situation:
- Adopting, implementing and role modelling flexible work hours. While many organizations adopt these policies there is a general sense of discomfort in actually practicing them in fear of being judged ineffective esp if one does not observe fixed office hours. In order to overcome senior leadership should not only communicate the policies but also help in evangelizing them.
- Creating a work environment which encourages diverse opinions, debate and approaches. This can be done by instituting a set of guiding principles where employees commit to a set of values and behaviour that encourages differences of opinions and the measure of success is on the building off ideas versus the shooting down of ideas.
- Organizations need to make real accelerated leadership growth paths for senior leadership positions and not only rely on organic growth. This is not in lieu of meritocracy but rather looking at building a team that complements each other in an organization.
Gender diversity has become a priority agenda item for policymakers and business leaders internationally. How can gender diversity add value to your organisation? How can it add or improve business and financial performance?
The availability of talent in Malaysia is constantly a challenge for our organization as we are a full R&D and Engineering organization whereby the organization is more than 95% local engineers working on the future Programmable Logic Devices. By not taking advantage of gender diversity we will basically be bringing down or chances of hiring the best talents by more than 50% given the enrolment of women in Universities. By adding gender diversity, we hope to create a positive working environment which due to diversity will cause a healthy exchange of ideas and contribute innovative ideas. A little bit of a cliche' but we strongly believe that by having better representation of gender, we also get a better perspective of the needs of users, customers and also stake holders who themselves are a diverse bunch.
Does your organisation have any policy or KPIs emphasising on female talents? What systems or tools has your organisation put in place to attract women on career hiatus to rejoin the workforce?
- We measure representation of women in our workforce and ensure that parity is achieved through our performance management system as well as promotional opportunities.
- Other than referral or job postings targeting experienced talents, we are not doing anything special with regards to attract women on career hiatus to rejoin the workforce.
Nowadays, flexible work arrangements (FWA) and support facilities are preferred by women with families. Does your organisation provide these? If yes, can you share more details on these?
- We practice flexible working hours. We also provide nursing rooms for nursing mothers. We have considered child care but are in the process to study the administration aspect of child care.