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?
To my mind, the key reason of low participation of Malaysian women in the workforce could be due to lack of childcare centres at the workplace. There are very little options for working mothers to consider in determining who will take care of her newborn babies or children while they are away for work. The rising cost of maids, substandard services by privately owned childcare centres, inflexible working hours, lack of support for new/young working mothers are some reasons that keep them away from joining the workforce. These issues may be tackled by encouraging employers to establish a childcare centre that provides quality services and one that has nursing rooms facilities either at the workplace or at some other conducive locations.
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?
There were findings that have shown correlations between gender diversity in leadership and bottom line results in corporations (Catalyst and McKinsey). It was reported that Fortune 500 companies with more women at the "C-level" and on board of directors have higher returns on equity, capital and sales (Catalyst). Whilst McKinsey reports that European companies with more women in positions of influence outperform their competitors on both qualitative and financial measures including stock price growth. In Malaysia, the 10th Malaysia Plan has outlined key programmes to encourage Malaysia to join the workforce, enhance women economic contribution and in nurturing women with potential for leadership roles.
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?
The Companies Commission Commission of Malaysia (SSM) has yet to have a specific internal policy or KPIs on female talents. Nevertheless, existingly the 2nd tier positions (Deputy Chief Executive Officers) are women and there are balanced gender diversity within the State Directors and Senior Managers positions.
As regards to our stakeholders, SSM as a corporate regulator encourages companies to establish childcare centre at the workplace as part of SSM's Corporate Responsibility (CR) Agenda (available at our website www.ssm.com.my) that was launched since 2009. The SSM's CR Agenda sets out SSM's strategic framework which outlines SSM's approach in inculcating the culture of CR amongst companies & businesses in Malaysia, focusing on Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and specifically, to encourage all companies to strive in striking an equilibrium between the quest for profitability and creating a sustainable living environment based on the triple bottom line principles. Under the SSM's CR Agenda, we collaborate with several strategic partners to pursue our CR Agenda which cover economic, social and environmental issues. With respect to our social CR agenda, SSM has entered into an MOU with UNICEF since 2010. Under this collaboration, SSM & UNICEF have given much emphasis on the establishment of childcare centres at the work place in light of the following:
(i)The 10th Malaysia Plan - which calls for the setting up of child care centres
to enable better participation by the women workforce in the job market;
(ii)Towards creating a sustainable corporate and social environment as well as
(iii)striking a balance between economic development and social well being;
(iv)To facilitate working parents in balancing their work commitment and the
(v)nurturing of their young children;
(vi)To ensure the safety of young children of working parents in the corporate & business working environment; and
(vii)The need for a high quality early child care & education in the nation's social system.
Todate, SSM and UNICEF have published 3 publications (all are available at our website) as set out below:
(i)BBPC 1/2010 on the "Establishment Of A Child Care Centre At The Work Place By Corporate And Business Employers". That serves as a general guideline to facilitate employers in setting up child care centres at the work place for their employees.
(ii)Toolkit on "How To Establish A Childcare Centre At The Workplace" which complements the Best Business Practice Circular 1/2010, and provides detailed guidelines on the principle of best interest of the child, recruitment of qualified staff, the importance of having child centred programmes and curriculum, the need for staff performance monitoring, the need for human resource management, financial resources, and registration procedures.
(iii)BBPC 2/2011 entitled "Establishing A Conducive Working Environment For Women: Nursing Mothers Programme At The Workplace" which highlights the role that companies and businesses can play in supporting family and child-friendly environment at the workplace by endorsing a nursing mother's programme.
Apart from publications, SSM has also embarked on various awareness programmes through its Corporate Responsibility Seminar Series (CRSS) to create awareness and enhance the understanding of the concept of CR and corporate integrity among the corporate and business community, especially the SMEs, as the SMEs in Malaysia form 99.2% from the total number of business establishments.
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?
If not, can you share your and your organisation's view on FWA and support facilities? Would you propose and implement any of the FWA or support facilities in your organisation? If you do, which will your management team support to take-up?
So far SSM has yet to introduce FWA, however it does provide support facilities in the form of a childcare centre and nursing mothers' facilities for SSM's employees at our childcare centre. The centre commenced operation since 1 July 2010 and is located on the 2nd Floor of Menara SSM@ KL Sentral. Our Centre provides nursery care for infants, toddlers and ad-hoc transit day care for older schooling children as well as nursing mothers' facilities.