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?
- Family commitment – many have to leave the work force to spend more time with their family or to care for their children.
- No specific initiative to encourage women participation in the workforce particularly from the monetary perspective e.g. tax relief for working mothers etc.
- Lack of encouragement or opportunities to progress to senior positions
- Promote work from home and flexible working hours
- Increase part time jobs – allowing mothers to work as well as manage their household responsibilities
- Lobby for tax incentives for companies that put in place initiatives that promote women’s participation in the work force
- Provide crèche or nursery care
- Provide support network for working parents within the organisation
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?
- Diversity in gender and in other aspects has also been our strength particularly as we are an international bank. Have a global footprint means we have employees that are different in many ways, from culture, religion, language etc. So diversity adds colour, creativity and provides us the leverage in terms of understanding our customer needs.
- Diversity provides our bank the insight of the markets we operate in and by embracing diversity, we can then also provide products that covers all various segments of customers thus making them feel included and important.
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 have in place policies that support working parents. Our flexible working arrangements allow most mothers to send their children to school or pick up their children from classes or tuitions. Our recently introduced Work from Home policy is another big step towards promoting work life balance thus removing time consuming activities such as fighting through traffic jams and focusing on delivery of quality work. We have also implemented the three months’ maternity leave which helps parents to put in place arrangements for their new babies.
- Although we do not have any specific KPIs or quotas, currently our female workforce ratio is rather encouraging with 60% of our workforce consisting of women and 40% of managerial posts held by women.
- We believe our policies which encourage work life balance are sufficient to attract the women 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? 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?
- Yes, as mentioned above.
What do you think are the key factors to encourage women to aspire to leadership and climb the career ladder? Can you share tools or systems that you have implemented successfully in-house that cater to leadership in women?
- Mentoring programs can help boost the confidence of women and encourage them to take on more challenging roles.
- Identify potential individuals and groom them with emphasis on leadership skills.
On the other hand, there are companies that have equal opportunity tools and systems in place. Despite these, barriers to opportunity may still exist due to women’s own issues and biases, for example lack of confidence to compete together with men for job progression and opportunities, or their impression that men will be favoured or chosen to lead. How does your organisation manage or dismantle these barriers? What can we do together to address this?
- Raise the awareness that women have to break the glass ceiling and that they have the capabilities to achieve what men can do.
- Emphasise equal opportunities for all genders and be seen practising it
- Women support network to discuss common issues and biases which are barriers to their progression
Our Government has implemented policies and even provided funds and assistance to organisations in order to retain and call back women to re-join the workforce. In line with this objective, our Prime Minister has announced the Double Tax Incentive for compliant companies which will be launched in 2013, fund allocation and assistance for child care centres at organisations, a microsite to connect women with companies that have jobs with flexible work arrangements and support facilities, and other incentives are in the pipeline. What else can the government do to encourage companies to attract and retain women in the workforce?
- Provide tax incentives to companies that can demonstrate high participation of women in their workforce particularly at the senior level
- Provide tax relief for costs incurred by companies in promoting participation of women in the workforce and initiatives for promoting awareness of the importance of women workforce.