Corporate Wellbeing Asia 2023
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How Facebook, Singtel, and more are enabling women in the workplace

In line with this year’s theme for International Women’s Day - #BeBoldForChange -  the Human Resources team surveyed 15 organisations with the question “What is your organisation doing to help women advance in the workplace?”

Here are their responses:

1. Joan Wong, head of human resources, 3M Singapore

This International Women's Day, we are engaging our employees on the topic of inclusivity through round-the-clock initiatives. In the morning, 3M staff are invited to a workshop where they will learn how to identify unconscious bias in the workplace, how it can impact their behaviours, and how to overcome them. In the afternoon, they can participate in a fun workshop on creating essential oils for stress relief, and shop at a bazaar with variety of health, travel and food products on sale.

Beyond these fun initiatives, we believe that diversity and inclusion isn't a 'once in a while' motion, but are embedded in everything we do. Our focus on diversity is evidenced by our recent win of the prestigious Catalyst Award for the 3M initiative: "I'm in. Accelerating Women's Leadership".

2. Khia Tat (KT) Lim, VP HR, Avnet Technology Solutions, Asia Pacific

Avnet Technology Solutions is proud of the intelligent and talented women that make up our Asia Pacific team. Recently we ran our second ever Young Leaders Programme in Singapore which included 4 high-potential women from Australia, Singapore and Hong Kong and a 50% female faculty. The aim of the programme is to not only educate our up and coming leaders on what it really means to be a leader, not just a manager, but also to give them exposure to other team members across the region and put them in direct contact with the Asia Pacific Leadership team. We will be following their careers closely, along with our many other promising female talents.

3. Michelle Leung, VP HR and services, Cigna International Markets

We strive to cultivate a fair, inclusive and collaborative environment and create opportunities to maximise the potential of all our employees. We recognise that the 37,000 people employed by Cigna globally represent different cultures, beliefs and values so we have set up a D&I team, spearheaded by sponsors from our leadership team.

Nearly a third of our Board are women and 40% of our top talent is female. We are particularly proud of our Women’s Networks across Cigna International Markets (IM) to help develop our female workforce. The in-house committee provides a high-quality support network that drives empowers women to grow, both personally and professionally. It has a calendar of events, which are also attended by male colleagues, mentorship programmes, and more. This culture is illustrated by a number of recent initiatives, such as the Hong Kong Women’s Network’s recent forum featuring high-profile speakers from a cross-section of industries.

4. Lee Yan Hong, head of group HR, DBS Bank

At DBS, we believe that when you achieve a critical mass of women across all levels, this will make a difference in an organisation’s ability to succeed. In Singapore, women form 60% of DBS’ overall workforce, and 40% of our senior management (senior vice presidents to managing directors) are women.

We are proud to have created a very healthy environment for both men and women, and kept gender bias out of our recruitment and talent management processes. Our employees have different aspirations and needs, and we have taken a holistic approach in empowering our staff to manage their careers. Some of our key initiatives include health and wellness programmes, flexible working arrangements, training and development schemes, as well as internal mobility programmes.

5. Leah Sutton, head of global HR, Elastic

"I want to make it clear: a diverse society is a resilient society. The more diverse we are, let it be ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic background, geographic location, or any other aspect, will make us stronger, more humane, and much more successful." - Shay Banon, Elastic’s CEO-elect, current CTO, and forever co-founder January 28, 2017

Diversity is part of who we are and what we do.  We are passionately committed to pay equity and doing our best to end the cycle of pay inequality by focusing on the position and experience, not prior salaries, for incoming hires. We also support a truly flexible work environment and are reviewing our leave policies, including parental leave.

Last year, we celebrated Women’s Day with a networking breakfast and panel discussion meeting, which we plan to do again in 2017 to provide role models of senior women in tech.

6. Facebook: Eriko Talley, head of HR, APAC, Facebook

Our leadership team works hard to promote diversity at Facebook through various initiatives. This includes the annual Women’s Leadership Day held globally; and for many years, we’ve done annual salary reviews to ensure that salaries are fair when the data is cut by categories like race and gender. Last year, we also rolled out comprehensive managing bias training and much of the company has already gone through it. We have executive sponsorship from Facebook’s most senior leaders for all of our employee resources groups. Employees are also welcome to join Lean In Circles to share experiences about being a woman in the workplace.

We launched #SheMeansBusiness on International Women's Day 2016 to inspire women entrepreneurs. Since then, we have launched the initiative in 15 countries, trained 8,000 entrepreneurs in-person and more than 50,000 online globally. Overall, the number of women-owned pages on Facebook has increased by more than 60%.

7. Thomas Holenia, president of Henkel Singapore, MD of Henkel’s global supply chain hub in Singapore

Gender diversity is one of the three key dimensions of Henkel’s diversity and inclusion strategy. Globally, including in Singapore, Henkel has made good progress in our efforts to achieve greater gender diversity at our workplace. Women account for nearly 50% of the workforce in Singapore. In addition, the share of women in managerial positions has reached 33% in 2016, an increase of more than six percent points over the past three years.

8. Kulshaan Singh, CEO – Mercer Singapore and Zi Lin Tan, HR leader, Asia zone at Mercer

The passion of our global CEO Julio Portalatin on diversity and inclusion has meant, that there is a strong culture of promoting women in leadership roles as well as of actively hiring women in senior-level positions. In Asia for instance, our Asia zone leader is Lisa Sun. More than half of her direct reports in the regional leadership team are women.

Our HR policies are progressively designed to support women through their careers with Mercer, especially tailoring work around their priorities during parenthood. We have an active programme to identify and promote high-potential female employees across the organisation. We run an internal Business Resource Group titled ‘Women@Mercer’ - a support and advocacy group which conducts various activities and outreach programs to support our women employees at the workplace. Our employee engagement platform called ‘M-People’ organises community support initiatives which involve not only our employees but also their families.

9. Juliana Ang, chief human resources officer, NTUC Income

At Income, we embrace diversity and promote equal gender representation. We mindfully aim to keep the balance when we conduct our search for talent, particularly in key leadership appointments. We recently appointed a female CFO to the senior management team.

We also believe that there is no need for a corporate policy to govern the way we support women, as it’s embedded in our way of working. We stand for creating a nurturing and supportive environment, where female colleagues have no qualms about sharing their problems with supervisors so that support can be rendered to achieve work-life balance. We are open to flexible work arrangements for mothers who need more time to coach their children during milestone examinations, such as the PSLE. Income was nominated by our staff for the Best Companies for Mums awards in 2015 and we were one of the winners for the most Empowering Mums category.

10. Cecilia Yeoh, vice president, HR, PSB Academy

PSB Academy has always played an active role in ensuring equal representation at management meetings. The management believes that women should be granted access to the same rewards, resources and opportunities as men, and the assessment of staff is built upon one’s merits and capabilities. Currently, female employees account for almost 70% of the overall headcount and we have 33% of women in the upper management.

PSB Academy has put in place family-friendly policies such as flexible benefits, free health screenings, and more. Our efforts to provide workplace support for working mothers were recognised with the title of Most Empowering Company for Mums in a 2015 ceremony by NTUC Women’s Development Secretariat. Our wish is for more organisations to do their part in understanding the concerns that new mothers may have about returning to work, and implement simple measures in their HR policies to allow them greater flexibility and accommodation.

11. Roche Diagnostics: Goh Chor Lim, HR head APAC at Roche Diagnostics

Diversity and inclusion is a high priority at Roche. In October 2016, we held our first Roche Women’s Leadership Summit in Singapore with focus on mentoring, coaching and sponsoring. At the same time, within Roche Diagnostics Singapore, we have implemented flexi-time to enable women to manage what is important to them, be it family or further education.

Maternity leave and other benefits are equal to all, regardless of nationality or marital status. Being a healthcare company we also ensure our innovative women’s health tests are available to our female employees and partners of male employees, including the HPV test for cervical cancer. We lead by example, and more than a third of our Asia Pacific Leadership team is made up of women, exceeding our global goal.

Kristen Pressner, global head of HR, Roche Diagnostics

“Are you biased? I am” states Kristen Pressner, in the TEDx talk she gave in Basel last year. She shows that no matter how open minded we believe we are, there’s always a chance we might be unconsciously biased. The antidote to this - flip it to test it.



12. Chua Sock Koong, group CEO, Singtel

Singtel is a gender neutral employer and we give equal opportunities to both our male and female employees. Almost a third of our top management in Singtel are female compared to a Singapore average of 25%. If you look at our Board, a third is female, compared to just 9.5% representation on boards in Singapore. We have at least one female member on our board nominations committee and we will always consider female candidates if there are board vacancies.

We have set up a female diversity committee to combat gender bias and discrimination and educate our leaders on inclusive leadership. We are also big believers in mentoring. Women tend to be less aggressive and forthright in going for the job – which is not right – because they are more capable than they give themselves credit for. This is why we encourage every leader to mentor.

13. Jon Erik Haug, EVP and chief people officer, Telenor Group

Telenor believes increased gender equality is a not only a competitive advantage and creates shareholder value, it’s the best and only way forward. With 36,000 employees in 13 markets worldwide, female inclusion is a key focus. Between 2011 and 2015, the percentage of women in Telenor Group Board of Directors increased from 36% to 45%. Effective October 2015, all women in Telenor Group’s markets are entitled to a minimum of six months paid maternity leave. To date, 239 women have availed this policy in Asia. And in January 2016 we established the Women’s Inspirational Network (WIN) to strengthen the female leadership pipeline.

Within Asia, great examples can be found.  In Telenor Myanmar, women represent close to 40% all employees, while Telenor Pakistan launched ‘Naya Aghaaz’ (New Beginnings) in 2014 to assist wives and mothers to re-enter the workforce. They also offer female employee driving courses, in-office childcare, and female-specific training.

14. Aadesh Goyal, global head, HR, Tata Communications

At Tata Communications, we spend a lot of time in defining and building the right culture that works for our employees. In 2014 we launched our global diversity and inclusion programme – The Winning Mix – as a core, strategic business imperative, with the overall goal of achieving a 30:70 gender balance.

The results are visibly impressive: currently 26% of our new hires are women as compared to 22% in FY15. Career rotation, on-the-job training and mentoring are provided to high-potential employees as part of the DevelopMINT programme to gear them for leadership roles. 17% of these high-potential employees are women. Tata Communications has been featured in LinkedIn’s Top Attractors list and recognised as an Aon Best Employer India 2016. This validates our culture that goes a long way in fostering a healthy and diverse workforce.

15. Ashley Goldsmith, chief human resources officer, Workday

Workday didn’t set out to be a great place to work for women—we set out to build a great culture based on strong core values and devoted to customer service. Authentically living those values, putting them into action every day, has allowed us to attract fantastic people. When people see role models that inspire them, they pursue opportunities and there’s a bit of a snowball effect.

We understand people have an entire life outside of Workday, and that’s something we really value. People see colleagues pursuing outside passions or raising families, striving to be the fullest person they can be, while at the same time holding a leadership position at work, and it helps them to envision possibilities.

Workday was named to Fortune magazine’s list of the “100 Best Workplaces for Women,” which recognises organisations that have nurtured positive and strong environments for women to grow in their careers.

Follow us on Telegram and on Instagram @humanresourcesonline for all the latest HR and manpower news from around the region!

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