Participation by women in the workforce in Malaysia stands at 46% which is low compared to other neighboring countries such as Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand. Why? What are the reasons and how can organizations tackle the situation?
- Firstly, let me highlight that while the national statistics indicate that women make up 46% of the workforce in the country, in Maybank, the ratio is much higher at 59%. In fact, the proportion of female executives in Maybank is also higher at 59.6%.
- Maybank has a People Management and Development System that comprises Policies, Tools and Processes based on principles that promote merit, transparency and proper checks & balance. This has been further strengthened since the transformation programme in 2009, and has directly influenced the Bank’s ability to continue to attract and retain healthy representation of women in our workforce. They also ensure mothers returning from maternity leave are not disadvantaged in any way. The Bank has a track record showing a healthy proportion of appointments into supervisory and managerial positions in this category.
- Some of these include the Bank’s Talent Management annual process that includes open forums for Talent reviews and succession planning through to the discipline of setting and tracking progress of Talent indicators within the Bank’s People Performance Dashboard. These are of course on top of the benefits provided that help make it easier for parents and returning mothers, which include child care support through to availability of spaces providing privacy for new mothers to express milk for their newborn’s needs.
- Looking at other neighbouring countries such as Indonesia, Vietnam, and Thailand, our view is that many women there participate in entrepreneurial activities such as small businesses and trade. In Malaysia while women represent 70% of the graduating class for the professional service, many of them are still bound to duties and responsibilities at home which often limit their capacity to take on full-time jobs, which are becoming increasingly demanding. For example, in Singapore, many career oriented women in the professional service have foregone their desire to start a family due to their pursuit of their careers.
- We believe these issues can be addressed if organisations have initiatives that support child care, flexible work arrangements, work-life balance, as well as non-gender bias in the selection and promotion of staff.
Gender diversity has become a priority agenda. How can gender diversity add value to your organization? How can it add or improve business and financial performance?
- At Maybank, we view gender diversity as a source of strength in our organisation. Employees of both genders bring diverse viewpoints, experiences, thought processes as well as problem solving and issues management skills to the table. They complement one another and ensure that the organization benefits from a holistic view of any new idea, problem solving method, business strategy etc.
- Of course, we also value diversity in terms of ethnicity, age group and skills/discipline as they also bring different and fresh perspectives to any organization.
- A disciplined focus and emphasis on gender diversity is also plain and simple risk management and good sense. It ensures the organisation/business is not vulnerable to opportunity losses arising from results it could have had with the right (woman) person for the job. This is a good enough business case for having policies that are non-gender biased but instead forces the right Talents to be surfaced.
- The recent educational blueprint that was released by the government indicates that 70% of graduating classes are women. This trend has increased over the years and is expected to increase further with demographic shifts in our population. The talent pool can be greatly enlarged if there are non-discriminatory hiring practices and those which promote diversity of traits and characteristics that can contribute to good job performance.
Any policy or KPIs emphasising on female talents? What systems or tools to attract women on career to rejoin the workforce?
- Maybank has consistently been tracking the level of female participation in our workforce and at various levels of management. In fact, we can proudly say that there is no glass ceiling in Maybank and female employees are encouraged to assume higher responsibilities. This is evident from the growing percentage of female Senior Management members from 19% in 2008 to 32% currently. Similarly at the Middle Management level, the percentage of female employees has risen from 32% in 2008 to 46% currently.
- Maybank has also provided alternative work arrangements to support employees with families where it would not sacrifice the employee’s ability to perform at a high level and where the Bank can continue to operate effectively. We are looking into further innovative solutions that can enable our employees to work productively and at the same time enable employees to provide proper family care and attention which we believe contributes to better morale and motivation.