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?
Women constitute 49% of the total Malaysian population with 51% of them in productive age of 15-44 years-old. It shall be noted that women in Malaysia have high education attainment compared to Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia whereby the number of women in post-secondary enrolment, first degree holders and masters degree holders consistently outnumber that of the male population.
A study under the Economic Transformation Programmes indicates that Malaysian women tend to opt out of the workforce during transition years from secondary/tertiary education following inability to find suitable job and during childbearing years where they decided to quit work to look after the family due to social expectation, high costs of outsourcing childcare or simply because they can afford to have a single bread winner in the family due to favourable economic condition.
In the 10th Malaysia Plan (10MP) the government set forth a plan to increase women’s participation in the workforce to 55% by 2015. Various initiatives have been planned involving collaborations of various Ministries, Agencies and the private sector to provide a conducive environment to attract and retain women in the workforce. Of these initiatives, the one that is crucial to affect a widespread women-friendly policy across the public and private sector is the announcement by the Prime Minister for a target of 30% women in decision making position.
To reinforce its commitment, the Government has allocated RM50 million in 2013 Budget, to train women as board members under the Women Director Programme. Other initiatives include promoting and incentivising childcare facilities at the workplace, introduction of flexi working hour, job matching and placement for university students, industry training to prepare graduates to join the workforce, re-skilling and promotion of on-line business.
SME Corporation Malaysia is committed to promote entrepreneurship as a “career” of choice. According to the SME Census 2011 on SMEs, from 645,136 active SMEs in operation, 19.7% were owned by women. The highest number were in services sector (91.7%), followed by manufacturing (6.9%) and less than 1.0% in the other sectors. By size, the majority of women-owned establishments were micro (88%) followed by small (11.3%)and medium (less than 1%).
Henceforth, to stimulate the development and advancement of the women entrepreneurs, SME Corp. Malaysia has established Panel of Women Entrepreneurs which provides a platform for women entrepreneurs to network, mentoring programme for small and medium enterprises and also sharing of ideas to assist more women entrepreneurs.
The Panel which consists of successful women entrepreneurs, women from the corporate sector and the relevant government agencies has been instrumental in contributing towards formulation of new programmes and recommending improvement for existing programmes for women entrepreneurs including:
- Outreach programmes such as tea-talks, luncheons and forums for knowledge sharing and networking purposes;
- Dialogue with the head of women entrepreneur trade associations and chambers of commerce;
- Regional workshops for women entrepreneurs to educate and enhance awareness (dwelling into programme design and content) ; and
- Coordinating and participating in trade missions abroad including nominating suitable speakers for strategic women events.
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.
Yes, gender diversity has added value to the organization.
On this, SME Corp. Malaysia hasinstilled integration of strengths and weaknesses between genders as it is a set of social and behavioral norms that are generally considered appropriate for either a man or a woman in a social or interpersonal relationship. Gender roles vary widely between cultures and even in the same cultures differed over time and context. In addition, Management team of SME Corp. Malaysia is led by Y.Bhg. Dato’ HafsahHashim, Chief Executive Officers and followed by Pn. RohanaRamly and Pn. Fadzilah Ahmad Din as Deputy Chief Executive Officer (1) and (2) respectively. In total, Management team of SME Corp. Malaysia consists of 9 ladies and 4 men.
Does your organisation have any policy or KPIs emphasising on female talents? What systems or tool has your organization put in place to attract women on career hiatus to rejoin the workforce?
No, SME Corp. Malaysia does not have any policy or KPIs emphasising on female talents and we do not imply any system or tool to attract women on career hiatus to rejoin the workforce.
However, SME Corp. Malaysia provides few benefits such as:
- Maternity leave (3 months) for women;
- Paternity leave (1 week) for men; and
- Child care centre (Opening in 2013)