Thoughts from leaders on women in the workplace
STUART DEAN, CEO ASEAN, GE GLOBAL GROWTH AND OPERATIONS says:
“Gender diversity ranks among the top priorities of some of the best global companies today but I must qualify this by emphasising that women professionals are making their mark in the business world purely on merit. We have some of the best women talent in GE across the more than 130 locations in which we operate in. In Malaysia, 46% of our work force comprises women with 25% of these at professional level and senior management. Women leaders are just as driven and results orientated as their male peers. In some cases, do even better.
We have found the setting up of our GE Women’s Network a great platform for enabling GE women across the countries we work in to engage with one another and enhance their professional development. It is also an avenue for us to grow, attract and retain successful women leaders. Our emphasis on work-life balance and flexibility to work from home has been a strong factor in retaining our women work force.
Retention of best talent amongst women in the workforce is an area that has shown to have direct bearing on a company’s productivity and profitability. Challenges for the corporate sector include looking at ways to develop a work environment that encourages best women talent to continue to remain in the workforce and still have quality time at home with their families. HR policies that look into embracing gender diversity and helping women realise their full leadership potential are critical in the process of engaging women to feel they are valued, respected and an asset to the company.”
JENNY OOI, SENIOR DIRECTOR HR, AGILENT TECHNOLOGIES - MALAYSIA, THAILAND & VIETNAM says:
“Agilent believes in providing a ‘workplace of choice’ environment for all. With a culture that supports work life balance, we provide employees with the flexibility to attend to life’s needs as a father, mother, husband, wife, son or daughter while still being able to contribute at work. This is especially appreciated by mothers – who now do not have to make the hard choice of staying at home or work.
With flexible working hours and state-of-the-art tools and applications such as web meetings and smart phones, we make it efficient and seamless for our employees to work from home. We also provide facilities at the plant such as a fully-equipped mini mart, a mother’s room for breastfeeding mums, dedicated car parks for pregnant employees, and also an in-house clinic with a full-day attendance by a female doctor.
The result: At the senior management level, four out of seven vice-presidents and three out of five senior directors are women. We also enjoy high employee engagement and commitment coupled with a low attrition rate.”
“As a mother of two young children, Agilent’s culture, policies and facilities have provided me with the peace of mind knowing that I could take time off to attend to my children if the need arises. In addition, I truly appreciate the flexibility of working from home thanks to the state-of-the-art-technology and not to mention the convenience of just swinging by the mini mart before heading home. While most people are blessed with an understanding spouse, I’m blessed with both an understanding spouse and employer!”
SALIKA SUKSUWAN, GM, HEAD OF RECRUITMENT, HUMAN CAPITAL, PwC says:
“Good corporate leaders will understand that it makes business sense to have our talents working flexibly than not at all. Many business leaders prefer not to provide flexible working arrangements due to a perceived lack of commitment. However, the forward thinking ones will realise that the strong contributors may strive even harder to deliver good work when time is of the essence. These talents tend to be more committed to the organisation in appreciation of the opportunity given to them to continue working.
There’s no cookie cutter approach to this issue. What’s fairly certain is that employers must truly believe that women are valuable well past their becoming wives and mothers. And they must also have a sincere desire to retain and develop their top women talent. Only then can they take steps to address this, in ways that work for both employers and employees.
The result: Representation of women at the entry and leadership level in PwC is strong. An example is the recent appointment of Pauline Ho as Assurance Leader.”
“From a personal perspective, we manage our time more efficiently when we have limited time in the office. Just like water, we tend not to waste it when there is limited supply.”
Jenny and Salika are advocates of flexible working arrangements (fwa) who also practise fwa.