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Interviews with AXA Insurance, Cisco, HP, Roland Berger, and more on D&I issues



"The Asia Recruitment Award is the oscars of the recruitment industry. A display of the best of the best!"
Start your entries preparation early.
Open to both in-house recruitment & talent acquisition teams and recruitment solution providers.

Employee resource groups, unconscious bias training, and hiring for roles based on competencies are just some of the ways in which organisations are forging gender equality at the workplace.

In this 12th part of our series, we showcase the call-to-action of 10 organisations in ensuring gender equality at the workplace.

Organisations featured include: AXA Insurance, Cisco, HP APJ, Pivotal, Preferred Hotels & Resorts, Roland Berger Southeast Asia, Smaato, and The Adecco Group.

Read on to see how these organisations are helping to #BalanceForBetter.


Hayley Yap, Chief People Officer, AXA Insurance

AXA values diversity and inclusivity and we are committed to building a culture that promotes equal opportunity. We recognise that women’s advancement is not just a women’s issue, but it also requires the support of men. Our employee resource group Wo+Men@AXA reflects this, with both women and men working together with the aim of shifting mindsets and attitudes.

To promote diversity in our leadership, female representation at the top is important. We have achieved 20% female representation at the C-suite level and strive to build a consistent pipeline of female leaders (we currently have a leadership succession pipeline of 50% women). At a company-wide level, we focus on education through initiatives such as unconscious bias training programmes, as well as sponsorship and mentorship for female talent.

We believe both big and small actions, taken daily, across every level in the organisation, are critical in the push for equality.


Deborah Woollard, VP, Human Resources, APJC, Cisco

At Cisco, we understand that to build great teams, we need to have diversity: diversity in thinking, diversity in working style, diversity in experiences. We have seen that building gender diverse teams not only enhances creativity and encourages novel thinking and approaches, but truly fosters better problem solving and more holistic solutions for our business.

To embrace diversity at Cisco we focus on inclusion. Not simply because it is the right thing to do—we believe it really works. Inclusion is the bridge that connects diverse perspectives, challenges the status quo, and unlocks the full potential of our people. Inclusion starts by creating an environment in which our employees have the freedom to be themselves, to work in flexible ways that support their lifestyle and individual preferences, to recognise and harness individual strengths and to enjoy an environment where differences are celebrated. Diversity is no longer a box to be checked but a competitive strategy towards developing and strengthening top-performing teams.


Sowjanya Reddy, Head, Human Resources, HP APJ

HP recognises our products and services get better with varied viewpoints – so our workforce must be as diverse as the customers and communities we serve. Diversity drives new business, fuels innovation and attracts and retains the best employees. That is why we take actionable steps to reinvent mindsets and create change.

We diverse teams through rigorous succession planning and talent reviews; leverage diverse perspectives through inclusive communities of HP employees – called Business Impact Networks (BINs); and offer unconscious bias training at every level.

As a result, HP is among the top tech companies with women and underrepresented minorities in executive positions. We have the most diverse Board of Directors of any US-based tech company and an employee base of at least 50% women. We are also recognised by the industry, named a top company for women technologists by Anita Borg Institute and awarded Diversity Leader Profiles in Diversity Journal.


Iris Loke, Senior Director of APJ People, Pivotal

Diversity and inclusion, in particular, play a huge role in shaping how Pivotal is today – our core values are “Do the right thing, do what works, and be kind”. At Pivotal, we undergo continuous self-reflection on how we can empower and develop our employees to create a fulfilling journey with us.

For three consecutive years, we have sponsored the Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Programme and extended our partnership with Write/Speak/Code, an organisation that advocates for women and non-binary coders. We formed several employee resource groups (ERGs) in 2017, and are expanding to include women@pivotal and others this year. Pivotal also strongly advocates recruiting diverse talent – in 2018, we have 25.4% female employees, a 2.4% increase from the previous year. Additionally, 22.8% and 24.1% women have assumed technical and management roles, respectively.This is a solid achievement for a technology company.


Greg Smith, Senior Vice President of Human Resources, Preferred Hotels & Resorts

Gender equity is in our DNA and not just a policy statement for our associate’s manuals.

More than 42% of all our leaders, including the CEO and President are women. We understand and celebrate that women play an indispensable role in our success. We understand that gender equity produces a talented and creative workforce that helps our business to thrive. We know that gender equity produces a diversity of thoughts and opinion that helps us to see around corners and drives our ability to meet the needs of our stakeholders: associates, vendors and our clients. Gender equity makes us better listeners and better stewards of our global obligations to lead on gender issues and to take a strong stand in support of women’s rights and human rights in all of our markets.


Liyan Chen, HR Manager, Roland Berger Southeast Asia (leads the HR team)

We cannot ignore the reality that consulting industry is an overwhelmingly male workplace. In Roland Berger, we are aware and are fixing the issue. It feels natural to grow our female representation, given how our client’s world is rapidly evolving to embrace women. When the world of our client and ours come together, a gender-balanced view is essential to be impactful.

First, we took deliberate steps to ensure senior-level leadership accepts and promotes key gender-balance initiatives. We delivered female leadership training and plan to implement a group-wide mentoring program with an individualised development plan for women. Second, we introduced a governance system to eliminate gender bias embedded in the industry. We appointed a female Principal in our Evaluation Committee and introduced a Global Diversity Committee. Third, we ensured the systems work as intended by running straightforward, targeted programs under “Women@RB” community, such as Female Recruiting Day, Female Leaders Meeting, and flexible working models.


Jasmine Koh, Vice President, HR/Administration APAC, Smaato

Smaato supports fair work guidelines, which include salary and hiring equality. This means that we hire for roles based on competencies, and our salary guides provide a clear pay scale based on a combination of the role’s requirement and the candidate’s experience — not gender biases or preferences.

Smaato also provides parental benefits equally to both men and women. As a result of these clear guidelines, Smaato is proud to have a balanced ratio of male and female employees. Smaato values diversity, and we welcome men and women of diverse cultures, experiences, and capabilities.


Victoria Bethlehem, Head of Human Resources – APAC, The Adecco Group

At the Adecco Group, 29% of our key leadership positions are filled by women, not a bad statistic comparatively speaking however we want this to be higher and are targeting gender parity at this level by 2030.

We are actively targeting this objective by ensuring that for every key leadership position, 50% of the named successors identified must be female.

We have a Women in Leadership Campaign which features the stories and lessons learnt on the path of success for our senior female leaders – this is shared across global Group. It’s there to inspire our colleagues and show our emerging female leaders that they too can reach this level of success in our organisation if they work hard, are ambitious and have the right attitude.

Operating in a gender-bias free environment will be critical to our achieving this goal so to support this we are rolling out this year a new unconscious bias training program for our leaders.


Linda Hamill, HR Leader, Asia-Pacific and Japan, VMware

VMware is engaging with all of our community to help accelerate change and be a force for good across the technology industry. We believe that innovation is the key to success, and that diversity helps to unlock that hidden gem. It’s no secret that women are underrepresented in the tech industry, and that is why we are investing in programs to expand the community of female and diverse talent in technology.

In 2016, we set up the VMinclusion Council to collaborate on regional solutions, address under representation in leadership positions, and champion the shift in attitudes towards women’s role in society and work. Besides seeking out new pools of female talent, we are leading a bold initiative that addresses high female dropout rates from the tech industry. Our recently launched VMinclusionTaara aims to upskill and help up to 15,000 women in India re-enter the workforce through free digital transformation courses. This is the sort of impactful action that we believe in and are looking to drive every day.


Yann Hamon, Founder and Managing Director, why innovation! (champions the diversity and inclusion corporate initiatives)

I believe that people diversity and inclusiveness in an organisation can help build a more supportive and flexible work environment, which allows everyone to realise their maximum potential. At why innovation! we are a diverse team that takes decisions collaboratively on important issues regarding the way we work and how we deliver. We focus more on capability building and results rather than positive discrimination.

Incorporating more supportive and flexible practices to all areas of the organisation is a great start in building an equal, inclusive and productive workplace.


We still have four more parts to our series focusing on women leadership, and bridging the gap in gender diversity in organisations. Stay tuned for more!

Part 1: Pearls of wisdom: Career advice from women leaders to their younger selves

Part 2: IWD2019 special: How CDL, Mars Inc, Standard Chartered Bank, and more are building balanced workplaces

Part 3: How leaders across Asia are taking responsibility to advocate a gender-balanced society

Part 4: Advice from 12 women leaders on overcoming career challenges

Part 5: 10 D&I initiatives that some of Asia’s most successful employers do

Part 6: If you could meet your younger self, what career advice would you give?

Part 7: ‘Don’t be afraid to be different’: Career advice from leaders across Asia

Part 8: 13 ways leaders like yourself can make an impact on gender equality

Part 9: How-To: 10 ideas you can adopt to help #BalanceForBetter

Part 10: Take a leaf out of these 10 women leaders’ career diary

Part 11: Action for change: How leaders from BASF, Emirates, Henkel, and more are taking responsibility for D&I

Part 13: #BalanceForBetter: Equal pay for equal work, meritocracy approach, and more

Part 14: Building diversity isn’t an HR role: How leaders across the board invest time into it

Part 15: [Watch] Nuggets of wisdom: 10 women leaders share career advice to their younger selves

Part 16: Be fearless and fight for your right: Tips for overcoming career challenges



"The Asia Recruitment Award is the oscars of the recruitment industry. A display of the best of the best!"
Start your entries preparation early.
Open to both in-house recruitment & talent acquisition teams and recruitment solution providers.

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