Why is participation by women in the workforce so low in Malaysia, especially compared to neighboring countries?
The issue is that society has not kept up with times. When work and family clash, women are almost always the ones to leave the work force as they feel pressured to conform to the traditional gender role as the home-maker and principal care giver. This can apply even to single women who are expected to take care of sick and ageing parents. Given the trend of women being on the "mummy-track", employers become more hesitant to invest in female employees. This applies particularly to women working at higher levels.
The Malaysian Gender Gap Index report pointed out that out of five levels of education, female marginal gross returns on income for three levels, i.e. from no certificate to lower secondary, from lower secondary to upper secondary, and from upper secondary to pre-university, are higher than those for males; but female marginal returns from the highest level of education from pre-university to tertiary are lower than male, even though the gender gap there favours women.
How can gender diversity add value to your organization?
Studies have shown that companies with the most gender diverse management teams outperform the industry average on several financial measures, such as higher ROE and higher EBIT.
Revenue is not attributed to one factor only, ever. The success of a business is due to a number of factors. What is of strategic importance is that AMD has adopted a global and holistic approach to women in its workforce in order to fully harness their energies and talents for the company's long term goals and objectives.
How does AMD place emphasis on female talent? Are there any programmes for women on a career hiatus?
In 2009, sparked by the women executives in the company, AMD globally introduced its AMD Women's Forum (AWF) as a means to generate more active and proactive participation and networking among its women workforce. This forum was set up to ensure that the potential of women in its entire global workforce are fully harnessed to meet its corporate objectives.
Tools to encourage women to aspire to leadership
Our AWF programme aims to inspire and motivate our employees - not only women, but primarily women. We have mentors and other women leaders to enable and empower colleagues at all levels to realise their potential, through different opportunities and personalised programmes. In Malaysia, AWF has focused on three key areas: 1) career development; 2) work-life effectiveness; and 3) self-promotion techniques.
What else can the govt. do?
I believe the government can provide more incentives to encourage companies to be accommodating of its female staff. For example, rebates can be given to companies who set up daycare centers at their premises. Or perhaps, campaigns can be launched to encourage men to share household responsibilities. With more awareness of the changing gender norms, hopefully women will have more space to make decisions regarding work-life balance rather than simply be forced to give up their jobs.