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?
Reasons for low participation ofwomen in the workforce:
- In Malaysia a significant number of womenare entrepreneurs. They run smallbusiness for example distributing consumer, beauty and health products or are agents of insurance and unit trust companies. Further, the statistics do not take into account those in the informal sector who accept order for home-made baked delicacies, dressmaking, baby-sitting or care givers. Many women in the rural areas also grow and sellvegetables and fruits during the seasons.
- Many women withdraw from the workforce after marriage or after the birth of their first child, not necessarily due to lack of child care, but wanting to concentrate on raising their children as Malaysian couples choose to have smaller families, of 1-2 children.
- Inequality in the number of promotions given and in career paths charted.
- No policies in place, orincentives given, to encourage women who have left the workforce due to family commitments, toresume working.
- Malaysia’s national education system is such that most women aged 16 till 23 are still schooling or in the midst of completing their tertiary education.
How to tackle this situation:
- Allow flexibility for women to work from home. Employers can facilitate by providing enhanced communication tools.
- Encourage part-time work.
- Practise flexible working hours.
- Provide opportunities for women to re-join the workforce after leaving.
- Provide equal opportunities for women to move up the ranks if they perform well at work.
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?
Gender diversity adds value to an organisation and improves business and financial performance because:
- Males and females look at issues from different perspectives and varied viewpoints avoid groupthink and add richness to conversations, dialogues and ways of managing situations. Their varying strengths and skills enablessolutions that are more creative and innovative.
- Gender diversity, together with various experiences and talents can help the business succeed.
- Gender diversity maintains a balanced social atmosphere at work. Males, who are more aggressive by nature, will learn to be polite and behave less aggressively when around women. As women tend to be quite reticent in expressing their views,they will learn to be more vocal in order to be heard.
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 the career hiatus to rejoin the workforce?
- Systems or tools put in place to attract women to re-join the workforce:
- The SC rewards and promotes staff based on their performance. A merit-based system is in place which applies across the board.
- We practise a revolving door policy where staff members who have left theSC are allowed to re-jointhe organisation bringing in new skills or after gaining additional experience, which could be obtained through working from home as consultants for example.
- There are many in-house facilities provided for staff ease of access:
- A crèche located in the office building. Staff members do not have to worry about sending their kids to nurseries far away from homeor the workplace,and having to pick them up after class. These days, it is difficult to get reliable domestic workers to care for the kids.
- A mothers’ lactation room located at lower ground 2 of the office building.This allows breastfeeding employees the convenience ofbreastfeeding their child at the workplaceorpump throughout the day allows mothers to keep up their milk supply and enables them to save and take home the nutrient-rich milk they have pumped.
- A cafeteria that provides balanced and nutritious meals. Staff members who work late and do not have time to cook can pack food and reheat it when they arrive home.
- A laundrette. This enables staffmembers to concentrate on their workwithout having to worry about household chores.
- An ATM machine located within office premises.Staff members have the convenience of withdrawing cash when the need arises. This minimises the risk of being robbed.
- A car wash service in the office. Staff members are able to get their cars washed, vacuumed and polishedwhile they are at work. This also saves them time. Moreover, it is convenient for some apartment or condominium residents who are not allowed to wash their cars in the compound.
- A gym to keep fit.
- Most staff members utilise the facilities available and find them extremely convenient.
- The SC also provides staff members with the Outlook Web Access facility. It allows staff members to continue working from home if the need arises.
- The SC practices flexible working hours, aimed at helping staff to achieve better work-life balance.
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? 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 the 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?
- The key factors in encouraging women to aspire to leadership and to climb the career ladder are their motivations, dedication and capabilities. In the SC, having women in many senior positions, from General Managers and above also act as role modeland mentorsfor the others.
- The SC has Open Resourcing (OR) options that provide opportunities for staff members to move up the ranks, either within the department or across the organisation.
- As an organisation that encourages continuous learning, the SC also offers financial assistance such as study loans and subsidies to staff members who wish to pursue their postgraduate studies in fields related to the capital market.
- Barriers that prevent women from moving up the ranks due to personal issues and perceived prejudices:
- This problem is not prevalent in the SC. The women in the SC are of high calibre, and are dynamic and results-driven. The table below shows that the SC has many women inkey managerial positions.
- Moreover, staff members in the SC are promoted based on merit, there is no discrimination towards both genders.