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

In line with this year's theme for International Women's Day - #BalanceForBetter - Human Resources surveyed more than 40 organisations with the question "What your organisation's call-to-action to help forge gender equality at the workplace?"

In this second part, we showcase the call-to-action of 10 organisations: 3M Singapore, BASF South East Asia, Cargill, Chevron, City Developments Limited, Henkel, Mars Incorporated, Quest Technology Systems Singapore, Shiseido Asia Pacific and Shiseido Travel Retail, as well as Standard Chartered Bank. Read on to see how these organisations are building balanced workplaces.

Joan Wong, Head of Human Resources, 3M Singapore

At 3M, we believe that diversity is essential to innovation, and inclusiveness is an integral part of our culture.

This year, 3M developed a global framework focused on three pillars to drive gender equality.

  • Individual - women to believe in themselves towards advancement
  • Leadership - decision makers’ role in advancing women
  • Culture - impact of 3M’s culture on women’s advancement

Translating these pillars into actions, we continue to provide advancement opportunities for our female talent through expanded roles, stretched projects and mentoring programs; and these outcomes are reflected in our diversity and inclusion (D&I) metrics.

The HR team alongside with the Inclusion Champion drive D&I culture through creating awareness of the power of “Different Minds Inspire”; and engage employees to celebrate 3M Global Inclusion Day annually.

Leveraging on our Women Leadership Forum which aims to energise, engage and enrich women in the organisation, we aspire to build a gender-balanced organisation.

Annie Tan, Head of Human Resources, BASF South East Asia

BASF believes in equal employment and development opportunities regardless of demographic dimensions, including gender. We have been continually developing frameworks to support our diverse workforce that comes with different needs of work practices, as we focus on providing an inclusive working environment.

Last year, BASF South East Asia celebrated 40 years of creating chemistry in Singapore. As part of our commitment to promote an inclusive culture which accepts and enhances the diversity in people, a new initiative known as the ‘Inclusion Circle’ was launched. A group of employees volunteered to form the two pioneering ‘Inclusion Circles’ to address topics that they are passionate about, with a line-up of activities planned for this year.

Together with BASF’s commitment to gender balance, we aspire to create a culture of inclusion, attracting diverse talent and fostering innovation to achieve a competitive advantage.

Manish Verma, APAC Regional HR Solutions Lead, Cargill

At Cargill, we actively engage all our employees to create a more integrated, better equipped organisation. This comes from the belief that the path to winning requires each person, regardless of role, level, department or location, to demonstrate inclusive leadership behaviors to drive extraordinary results.

It’s not a straightforward process and may not come naturally to everyone. What we do is encourage our employees to be curious, to be willing to learn and be influenced by others, to listen deeply and carefully, to engage a broad range of perspectives and to lean into discomfort in order to become more comfortable.

Beyond just doing the right thing, inclusion and diversity is good for business and we believe such a culture will position us to consistently win and stand out in this changing world.

Matthew Riordan, Regional Human Resource Manager – Asia and Middle East, Chevron

At Chevron, we believe that an inclusive culture strengthens business performance, drives innovation, increases employee engagement and leads to greater success.

Investing in diverse talent is an example of the company’s pursuit of greater opportunities for women in the workplace, guided by the company’s core values, The Chevron Way. Programs to advance gender diversity include Men Advocating Real Change (MARC), a Catalyst global initiative spearheaded by the Women’s Employee Network; mentorship and sponsorship programs to support the advancement of women; as well as processes, programs and tools to manage work/life priorities, including one focused on dual-career couples where both individuals are employed with the company.

Our goal at Chevron is not to hit targets for gender equality, but instead to institutionalise processes in order to achieve real gender balance in the long run.

Sherman Kwek, Group CEO, City Developments Limited (CDL)

A diverse workforce enables us to make better decisions and achieve superior outcomes. Our diversity across genders, age groups, expertise, perspectives, cultures and geographies has given us a strong strategic advantage.

Hence, we have always believed in the importance of fair employment practices, including key aspects such as recruitment, remuneration and career progression, and we strive hard to offer equal opportunities to both genders.

This is evident in our staff profile where women form 70% of CDL’s workforce and 47% of our department heads. Recognising that creating and expanding opportunities for women are fundamental to CDL’s sustainable growth and beneficial to society at large, we established an internal CDL Diversity and Inclusion Task Force in 2017. The Task Force promotes awareness and adoption of diversity and inclusion within our workplace and the wider community.

Notes: Sherman Kwek, champions the D&I initiatives at City Developments Limited. As a HCPartner, City Developments Limited is part of the community of progressive employers under the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices’ (TAFEP’s) human capital partnership (HCP) programme.

Jarrod Patterson, Human Resource Director South Asia Region, and Human Resource Business Partner for Adhesive Operations and Purchasing in Asia-Pacific

At Henkel, the promotion of diversity and inclusive behaviours is embedded in our corporate culture. We are pleased to have increased the share of female managers globally, from around 26% in 2008 to around 34.7% at the end of 2018.

Since 2013, Henkel has been celebrating Global Diversity Week every year, where employees experience diversity and inclusion through various virtual and local events, activities and initiatives. During the week, the importance of gender diversity is emphasised through online training materials, engagements with diversity and inclusion ambassadors and exchanges with our leadership teams.

This year, in conjunction with International Women’s Day, Henkel will be featuring a campaign on “Celebrating Strong Women” to profile our female employees who are role models of resilience, courage and inspiration, be it at work or in their personal lives.

Ibtehal Fathy, Global Head of Inclusion and Diversity, Mars Incorporated

At Mars, women play a powerful role in our history and current leadership and unlocking opportunities for women’s advancement is crucial to our business and our society. Currently, 42% of Mars associates in the talent pipeline are women, and we aim to raise that number each year.

We train our management teams on inclusive leadership, where they learn to identify ways to address biases and cultural barriers that limit our associates from reaching their full potential. We ensure that women are represented in roles where they have historically been underrepresented, such as STEM-related careers.

We’ve implemented mentorship programmes for high-potential women in Asia and the Middle East, created platforms such as work groups in the UK for our Associates that focus on supporting our diverse population and to continue the efforts on gender balance, and are piloting a Women Leading Powerfully programme in the US, in order to support women on their leadership development journey.

These are just a few steps we’re taking to advance and empower women and we continue to #PressforProgress to create an environment where women in Mars can reach their full potential.

Vivien Li, Director of Human Resources, Quest Technology Systems Singapore

Our senior leaders set the tone from the top in supporting gender equality in the workplace. We have great representation of female leaders across the commercial teams and in the corporate functional groups.

We are working towards increasing the participation of female engineers in our research and development functional groups. As an adopter of the Tripartite Standard on Recruitment Practices, we always believe in adopting fair, merit-based and inclusive hiring practices. We make conscious decisions to hire qualified female talent into Quest and support the female employees to develop their career. We also increase our engagement and commitment with the educational institutions and industry associations to build a diverse and healthy talent pipeline for the future.

Notes: Quest Technology Systems Singapore is also an adopter of the Tripartite Standard on Employment of Term Contract EmployeesTripartite Standard on Flexible Work Arrangements, and Tripartite Standard on Grievance Handling. Employers who need guidance to implement diversity policies can refer to TAFEP’s “Creating an Inclusive Workplace: A Start-Up Kit” for more details.

Roselin Lee, Vice President of Human Resources, Shiseido Asia Pacific and Shiseido Travel Retail

Women are deeply significant to Shiseido’s business, as well as to us as an organisation. We believe a key part of encouraging gender equality is celebrating and cultivating diversity as a competitive differentiator, which leads to diversity in perspectives, talent, experiences and value, which ultimately drives better business performance.

We have initiatives aimed at increasing access to learning, and promote our employees based on qualifications and merit to ensure equal opportunities. Shiseido also makes strong investments in training our employees, with one such initiative being our Inspirational Leader Program. Forging gender equality at all levels begins at the top, and we have put that into practice by identifying a leadership team that is 44% female in our Asia Pacific headquarters.

Charlotte Thng, Head of HR, Singapore & ASEAN and South Asia Cluster Markets, Standard Chartered Bank

At Standard Chartered, we are proud to have a workforce that reflects the diversity of our clients and footprint. Therefore, embedding diversity and inclusion is critical to our success as we work towards achieving gender parity.

We are making good progress.

In Singapore, 40% of our employees are female and 35% of our Singapore management team are women. We have also strengthened our hiring process, which includes maintaining a percentage of suitable female candidates in every shortlist of senior roles.

Creating a flexible work environment is also a part of building an inclusive culture. In addition to our 20-week maternity leave, child/family care leave, we believe that we are competitive in promoting more flexible work arrangements (FWA). Since 2015, the take-up rate of FWA in the Bank in Singapore has tripled and is now in the hundreds. We also have a strong candidate pool of ‘return-to-work’ mothers.


Note:  This was shared with Human Resources yesterday (7 March) on the back of Standard Chartered Bank's breakfast event to celebrate International Women’s Day.

The event included a panel discussion on how the public and private sectors can together build a future in which innovation and technology will create exciting new opportunities for women and girls, ultimately advancing gender equality and empowerment for all.

Manisha Tank, award-winning journalist, CNN, was joined by panellists:

  • Josephine Teo, Minister for Manpower, Republic of Singapore
  • Ayesha Khanna, Co-Founder and CEO, ADDO AI
  • Deborah Ho, Managing Director and Head of South East Asia, BlackRock
  • Simon Cooper, Chief Executive, Corporate, Commercial & Institutional Banking, Standard Chartered Bank

During the opening speech, Patrick Lee, Chief Executive Officer, Singapore, Standard Chartered Bank, said: "Technology is a force for good. But despite digital advancement, the human talent will always remain our core competitiveness. And that in itself warrants the prioritisation of investments and effort to push the gender diversity agenda forward."

Group photo at Standard Chartered Bank's IWD breakfast event From L-R: Patrick Lee, Chief Executive Officer, Singapore, Standard Chartered Bank; Josephine Teo, Minister for Manpower, Republic of Singapore; Manisha Tank, award-winning journalist, CNN; Simon Cooper, Chief Executive, Corporate, Commercial & Institutional Banking, Standard Chartered Bank; Deborah Ho, Managing Director and Head of South East Asia, BlackRock; Ayesha Khanna, Co-Founder and CEO, ADDO AI. Photo by Standard Chartered Bank.

At the event, panellists also shared their input for Human Resources' 16-part IWD special. Keep an eye out for their input in the next few stories!

We're excited to announce that this is just the second article in a 16-part 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 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 12: Interviews with AXA Insurance, Cisco, HP, Roland Berger, and more on D&I issues

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

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