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?
Education is one of the key driving factors of achieving gender parity in the workforce. However, while women occupy 67% of university places, only about 46% remain in the labour force (female population age 15-64). This suggests that there still is much needs to be done about retention of women in the workforce by addressing how to re-integrate participation post marriage and/or maternity leave.
At Google we understand the importance of having women in our workforce and value their contribution. It is important to address these issues and create an inclusive work environment. Having women friendly benefits and policies like active women's groups, mentor programs, flexible working hours and work from home options, paid maternity leave, returning mothers program and other benefits tell women that we are serious about them and are committed to make them successful in both their professional and personal lives. We also train and talk to senior management to understand the importance of gender diversity and create a strong support system for bottom up.
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?
At Google, we work hard to ensure that attention to diversity and gender diversity in particular is built into everything we do. We do this because it is important from a business perspective and because it’s the right thing to do. We believe that a diverse workforce is important to bring about innovation and creativity. Google aspires to be an organization that reflects the globally diverse audience that its search engine and products serve, women are a huge part of this equation. Having women in the workforce helps us address the needs of our global female users. Women bring their own unique perspective, ideas and innovation that helps us cater to a larger audience and do extraordinary things.
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?
Google strives to be a company where each Googler can be exactly who they are at work, and that the work environment supports and encourages you to be you. Google caters to its women employees through the following:
New Parent Benefits
- Maternity & Paternity leave-Google offers a maternity policy of 18 weeks maternity leave paid at 100% of base salary which is more than the standard government requirement and a Paternity Policy of 4 weeks Paternity leave paid at 100% of base salary.
- Adoption Policy-Google provides an Adoption Policy of 16 weeks of Adoption leave paid at 100% of base salary for primary caregivers and 4 weeks Adoption leave paid at 100% of base salary for non-primary caregivers.
- Baby Bonding Benefit- Having a new baby in the house certainly changes a few things! Spending quality time with your child in those first few weeks is really important. It's probably fair to say that the last thing any new parent wants to do when a brand new baby arrives at home is cook or clean. Google offers the Baby Bonding Benefit to give you and your partner a break from the chores, more time with your new arrival, or a chance to catch up on sleep
- New Mommy Mentor program- Coming back to work after maternity leave can be hard an unsettling, thats why Google has a mentoring program that enables them to interact with other women employees who have had the same experience in the past.
- Women interviewees are interviewed by a women interviewers as well in the process.
Support for Female Employees
- Employee resource Groups: Women@google (Women Networks) goal is to offer support networks to women wherever they sit.
- Training and talks for women: this can be skill training or talks from senior women leaders or successful women outside Google etc.
- Flexible Working: At Google we understand that women have various roles they need to manage, thus we offer flexible work hours or work from home opportunities to our employees when the request is reasonable.
- Special company events for Women: Example Women@ Asia Pacific Summit for Google female employees to come together and engage, build and grow.
- Strong Support from Leadership: From the founders itself Google’s leadership strongly support diversity in the organization. We also conduct interventions and update the senior management on the importance of gender diversity in the workforce.
- Promotion: At Google we believe that an employee is the best judge and can self nominate themselves for a promotion. Women employees are strongly encouraged to do so and also have workshops by senior women leaders to mentor other women in the organization.
- Mentoring: We have various levels of mentorship some formal and some informal. From when a new employee joins the organization to various miliestones in their professional and person life google tries to create mentors to help employees cope better.
- Focus on work life balance: Work life balance is almost second nature at Google. We create an environment where employees can be themselves and bring their whole self to work. From the free food, to the recreational activities, Google encourages its employees to maintain this balance. We also measure work life balance as a part of the employee review and take it seriously.
Other Efforts to Support Women
- Anita Borg Scholarship for female students:Google is proud to support young women in technology with the Google Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship. Google hopes to encourage women to excel in computing and technology and become active role models and leaders in the field
- Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing: As part of Google's ongoing commitment to bring the research and career interests of women in computing to the forefront. the Google Global Community Scholarship to help students attend the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing Conference across the globe.
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?
Google does have flexible work arrangement, we empower managers to take these decisions, we understand if there is a need and are extremely supportive towards reasonable requests. We have various collaborative tools at Google like video conferencing/hangouts, Google docs, calendar etc that help keep us connected and continue with work without being physically present together.
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?
Creating an inclusive workplace is key to fostering a corporate culture where all people have the resources they need to grow and succeed. At Google, we make sure our diversity initiatives hold our business leaders accountable. A strong “tone at the top” from our senior leaders ensure the development and advancement of the women in our organization. Inclusive leaders understand diversity, demonstrate a commitment to diversity and are active and visible champions.
To help women succeed and develop in their careers, we provide education, mentoring and networking opportunities aimed at the needs of a professional women.
We have a strong tradition of grassroots employee engagement, with thousands of Googlers participating in diversity and inclusion as members of employee resource groups. From Veterans, to the Women’s networks, employee resource groups at Google are grass-roots, Googley groups where ideas, innovation, and leadership thrive. Through our Employee Resource Groups awards programs we are able to reward excellence and recognize individuals who serve as role models and facilitators or women’s development.
We have a very active Women@ Google group which is a global community of women with chapters throughout the Google offices. Our goal is to offer support networks to women wherever they sit. Many of the senior female leaders have taken an active role in. This group brings together female talent from Google offices across the globe to focus on ensuring that we are developing a strong pipeline of women for leadership roles at Google, as well as giving them an opportunity to network, learn and grow.
Having a company culture that values female leadership is critical to being successful in diversifying your top management. In addition to strong support for initiatives like Women@Google, Google provides excellent benefits such as our maternity and paternity leave policies and other benefits which increase the likelihood of having diversity at the senior levels.
Benefits and programs specifically for working mothers send a clear message to women that we want them to be successful professionals as well as mothers. These include leaves related to childbirth or adoption, the new mothers networks, our mothers (lactation) program a flexible working environment and a host of other services designed to help new parents.
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?
Promotion at Google reflects, as much as possible, an open, collaborative, and data-driven corporate culture. At most companies, only the managers decide who will be put up for promotion at Google we believe that an employee is the best judge and can self nominate themselves for a promotion. Women employees are strongly encouraged to do so and also have workshops by senior women leaders to mentor other women in the organization. We also remind managers that they have an important role in nominating people that should be promoted, but did not self-nominate, regardless of gender.
We noticed that women generally do not flaunt their achievements in interviews and thus were getting rejected, now we ask interviewers to be more specific in their questions to get the right answers.
Through our employee resource group for women, we constantly give the women an opportunity to come together and work on different projects, network, learn from each other, conduct workshops and talks, as well as community development initiatives. Women often find themselves struggling to manage their roles as a home maker, caretaker for the children and their career. We at Google try to help them reach an equilibrium with various employee benefits like flexible work hours, work from home, maternity leave etc.