Challenges on Promoting Women’s Participation in the Workforce
As Malaysia aims to become a high income nation by year 2020, the existence of a talented workforce is crucial in ensuring this success. In Malaysia, it was reported that the ratio of female to male university graduates is at 60:40, so the participation of women in the workforce at only 46% presents a great opportunity. The most commonly cited reasons for this poor showing are the lack of work-life balance for working women and a desire to take career breaks to raise families. While these are valid causes for women to exit the labor market, effective measures should be identified to retain these talents by creating a mutually beneficial work environment.
The most obvious solution is by promoting flexibility at the workplace. With technology evolving in wondrous ways, flexible working hours and working from home have become feasible options. With meetings conducted over the internet and decisions made at the click of a button, the digital age has revolutionized the way we work. By leveraging on mobile technology, women may find that executing the balancing act in current times is not as demanding as in yesteryears.
As a People company, McDonald’s embraces diversity and inclusiveness, and is committed to providing every employee with opportunities for training, development and career advancement. In Malaysia alone, about 55% of our Restaurant Managers and nearly half of our Senior Management members are women. On top of that, women leaders are heading key departments including Marketing, Operations, Finance, Information System and Supply Chain. Apart from me, the Managing Directors of McDonald’s US, UK, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Australia, Turkey and a few other countries are also women.
These talented and capable individuals are proving their mettle in what were traditionally maledominated fields. For McDonald’s, gender diversity in the workplace is a reflection of our customer base. Women make the bulk of the purchase decisions in households. 75% of women identify themselves as the primary shoppers for their household. Women control or influence two-thirds of the overall global consumer spending. As such, having women in our workforce helps us to understand our customers better. These ‘inside information’ are invaluable in helping us chart winning business strategies, which will of course impact the bottom line in positive ways.
Attracting women talents Globally, McDonald’s has established the Women’s Leadership Network with the goal of supporting the recruitment, development and advancement of women at all levels of the company while creating a culture where women have the opportunity to succeed and grow.
We launched the Malaysia Women’s Leadership Network in April 2011 with the mission of establishing McDonald’s Malaysia as an Employer of First Choice for Women. Our focus is on talent development, improving work-life harmony as well as networking and sharing best practices among the teams.
Flexibility is one of our Employee Value Propositions. At our restaurants, our people are able to enjoy flexible working hours and job schedules that meet their needs and lifestyles. At our Head Office, staff may work out special arrangements with their department heads if they need to leave early and work from home in their efforts to balance their responsibilities.
One of McDonald’s biggest strengths as an employer is that we are able to dispel the myth that women rarely rise to positions of power. You only need to step into our restaurants, offices and boardrooms to witness the diversity and inclusion that are widespread in our organization.
By continuing our commitment on developing a diverse and inclusive environment at our workplace through effective people practices and equal opportunities for all, we hope to be able to help our people fulfill their true potential regardless of their gender or backgrounds. And given that the McDonald’s Global Women’s Initiative received the Catalyst Award in 2011 in recognition of their efforts in creating a thriving work environment for women, we are confident that we are on the right track in our journey of championing women’s participation in the workplace.