Welcoming women back to the workforce

Women are the cornerstone of today’s talent pool. Apart from benefitting from gender diversity, women talent prove invaluable to an organisation as they are educated - making up almost 70%* of public university enrollment in Malaysia - and come with adequate working experience.

However, at some point in many a woman’s lives will come a time when they face a conundrum, having to choose between their career and family.

Unfortunately, a large portion of Malaysian women choose the latter at the expense of the former. As of 2014, the participation rate of women in the workforce is only at a mere 53.6%, which stands among the lowest in the SEA region.

On top of that, the ratio of women in the workforce significantly drops as they progress to the mid, senior, and top management as well as board levels.

There are several reasons why women exit the workforce. Some may choose to do so to attend to their family on a full-time basis. Providing full-time care for a family member and achieving a better work-life balance are also other top reasons that women may choose to leave the workforce.

In order for Malaysia to reach its national goal of becoming a developed-status nation by 2020, the nation needs to tap into their biggest asset: talent.

Many women who have taken a hiatus want to return to the workforce, but face several barriers to re-entry such as career obsolescence and employer bias.

Many women who look to make a comeback in their careers have proven to be mature and highly enthusiastic, and possess strong credentials and significant prior work experience.

As a result, more organisations are beginning to recognise this gap in talent, and have started to provide work-life benefits that are tailored to retain women in the workforce. An example of such benefits would be flexible hours, work-from-home models, child-care facilities, nursing rooms, and so on.

Career Comeback Grant

In order to support and encourage women’s role in the workforce, the Ministry of Women, Family, and Community Development (KPWKM) together with TalentCorp have launched the Career Comeback Grant to encourage the employment of women who have taken career breaks, as part of a nationwide plan to increase female participation in the workplace and maximise Malaysia’s talent.

There are two types of grants under the programme, the Resourcing Grant and the Retaining Grant.

The Resourcing Grant is available for companies who have implemented or enhanced a programme or campaign to recruit women returnees. Companies will receive a co-funding of 75% of the cost incurred to run the programme, which may include recruitment costs, targeted campaigns, technology investment and/or other related expenses.

The Retention Grant is available for companies who have successfully recruited and retained women returnees for more than six months. The grant amount is equivalent to the returnees’ one month salary, to encourage employers to recruit and facilitate their transition back to work.

Gender diversity is key in any organisation, and contributes positively to the company’s long-term performance, and empowers women to contribute to Malaysia’s nation building.

With the two grants in place, employers can now focus on creating a diverse talent pool within their organisations, and assisting women returnees in transitioning back to the workforce after having taken a career break.

To learn more about the Career Comeback Grant and to apply, visit flexworklife.my/