As part of our series of 22 stories under the overarching theme of #ChooseToChallenge, the team at Human Resources Online has asked more than 60 HR leaders about their organisation's call-to-action in shaping a workforce that celebrates gender equity.

In this eighth part of our series, HR leaders from BT Group, Hershey India, HP Inc., Lazada Group, SGInnovate, VP Bank, tell us more.


Rebecca Kilpatrick-Markovits Chief HR Officer, BT Group

Creating a diverse and inclusive workforce is one of our top priorities.

BT has a long and recognised track record in bringing more women into engineering professions as well as increasing opportunities for women at senior levels.

Our work is focused around two programmes:

  • TechWomen is our award-winning development programme that has resulted in a global network of over 1500 women and their supporters at BT. Over the course of the past year, 120 women from India took part with main benefits observed in employee retention, new roles for participants and shifts in confidence.
  • Gender Equality Network is a great resource for the gender equality community and people who want to learn more about how we can build a platform to champion all genders, develop awareness of inequality and drive positive change. Our people networks are thriving employee-led community groups that feedback thoughts, opinions and opportunities to senior management and thus help shape the organisation.

Abhishikta Das, HR Director, Hershey India

For International Women’s Day this year, we have launched the ‘HerShe’ campaign in India. The campaign honours outstanding Indian women who have made a difference to society through their work.

We also conducted a number of activities within the organisation such as sessions for all women employees with a psychologist, employer branding on our corporate page and partnering with the NGO Raj Uphaar run by the tribal women of South Gujarat.

At Hershey India, we believe women bring unique perspectives and always help make effective business decisions. Diversity is a source of energy and innovation.

We have a long-standing commitment to fostering an inclusive environment that starts with our hiring practices, inclusive culture and extends to every area of our business.

Encouraging gender diversity has always been a part of Hershey’s culture and we make conscious efforts to acknowledge and celebrate the work of the women in our workforce. This diversity is the key to our business success and growth.

We have increased the percentage of women in our workforce at the head office to 43% during the past three years. We have also been focusing on hiring more women sales officers within our very strong sales team.


Sowjanya Reddy, APJ HR Head, HP Inc.

Leading with purpose has always been a part of HP’s DNA. We embrace diversity, equity and inclusion as part of the HP Way - from hiring to careful bench-planning to ensure we have potential women successors in key roles.

We have been driving progress from the top through leadership programmes specific to women employees as well as training programmes that give them broad exposure to various parts of our business, along with mentorship programmes that help to build executive sponsorship within HP.

We work closely with our Talent Acquisition team to ensure qualified female candidates are considered for all technical roles.

Groups within HP, such as the Women’s Impact Network, are driven by employees and provide insights and create programmes that build connection, leadership, and belonging among employees. Regular MD and HR roundtables and leadership cafes help us understand what support women employees need, and provide them the opportunity to learn from other women leaders.


Sophie Xue, Chief People Officer, Lazada Group

From day one, Lazada Group has prioritised building an inclusive and supportive workplace that embraces diversity. Women’s voices and active participation have been essential to the success of Lazada. We have long been dedicated to empowering women not just in our company, but also across our wider ecosystem, such as our sellers and female riders in our courier fleet.

At Lazada, women make up 40% of our employee strength. Our executive chairwoman Lucy Peng is a role model to many, while more than a third of my colleagues on the senior management team are female. We have also introduced many initiatives to support the career development of young female talents.

As an expansion of our commitment to gender equity, we launched an inaugural Lazada Forward Women Awards to recognise female entrepreneurs across Southeast Asia who have demonstrated resilience and innovation. We wanted to create a platform to inspire hope and action by showcasing their success. We celebrated the achievements of these outstanding women in a live stream event on International Women’s Day.


Ong Peck Har, Deputy Director, Human Resource, SGInnovate

Talent-cum-leadership development and progression at SGInnovate are based entirely on performance, capability and aptitude – gender is never part of our consideration criteria.

As individuals are recognised on their own merits, this has helped build up a gender-diverse, vibrant and successful team that we have today. The fact that more than half of our talent are females – with half of them helming leadership roles – bears strong testament to that.

Support for families is another key element in building our inclusive work environment since inception.

Our pro-family schemes such as flexible work arrangements through telecommuting and part-time hours have been extended to working mothers who need to balance work and family obligations, even before the pandemic.

Likewise, such arrangements are also offered to working fathers in support of their share of duties towards building strong families for the good of our society.


Karine Lee, Regional Head of HR Asia, VP Bank Singapore Branch

In the predominantly male-dominated industry of private banking and wealth management, VP Bank celebrates gender equity by promoting Women Leadership. 22% of our management committee is female - an exemplary proportion within the sector. 37.5% of our treasury roles - which have traditionally been dominated by men - are also occupied by females.

We firmly believe in grooming and promoting leaders based on performance and meritocracy - no matter their gender.

For instance, we recently sponsored Karen Tan, our Head of Private Banking, for the Asian Financial Leadership Programme - a programme that develops top talent in the financial industry to assume regional and global leadership positions.

As the proportion of women at VP Bank Ltd Singapore Branch is set to rise, we are in full support of an inclusive environment that champions gender equity.


First row, L-R: Rebecca Kilpatrick-Markovits, Abhishikta Das, and Sowjanya Reddy. Second row, L-R: Sophie Xue, Ong Peck Har, and Karine Lee.

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