Talent & Tech Asia Summit 2024
Q&A: Erlny Greiss, Touch ‘n Go Group's CHRO, sees D&I as a cornerstone of progress in the fintech sector

Q&A: Erlny Greiss, Touch ‘n Go Group's CHRO, sees D&I as a cornerstone of progress in the fintech sector

In this interview with Arina Sofiah, Erlny Greiss delves into what it means to be inclusive at Touch ‘n Go Group — an environment that strives for all employees, regardless of their background or abilities, to feel "genuinely respected and appreciated."

The fintech industry is on a journey toward embracing diversity, equity, and inclusion, recognising the invaluable contributions of diverse perspectives to innovation and problem-solving. Despite the progress that has been made, challenges persist — particularly in leadership roles and gender diversity, as Erlny Greiss, Chief Human Resources Officer of Touch ‘n Go Group points out.

Similarly, to many tech sectors, fintech faces criticism for the underrepresentation of certain groups. At Touch ‘n Go Group, the team makes great efforts to increase the representation of women in leadership roles around various job functions.

Besides that, it has also been implementing various initiatives and programmes to promote diversity and inclusion. This includes targeted recruitment efforts, mentorship programmes, and diversity training to create more inclusive work environments.

In this interview with Arina Sofiah, Erlny Greiss delves into what it means to be inclusive at Touch ‘n Go Group — an environment where all employees, regardless of their background or abilities, feel respected and appreciated.

Q How does Touch 'n Go actively encourage diversity in its recruitment processes? How do you approach the recruitment and onboarding process to ensure that neurodivergent candidates are given fair opportunities and provided with necessary accommodations for success?

At Touch ‘n Go, diversity is not just a buzzword; it's a commitment we uphold in every aspect of our workforce. We understand the importance of assembling diverse teams to drive innovation and effectively cater to our diverse customer base.

In our recruitment processes, we actively seek out candidates from diverse backgrounds and utilise inclusive language in job descriptions. We also employ blind CV practices to mitigate unconscious bias and focus solely on skills, qualifications, and experience when hiring. Additionally, we also expand our search horizon because we value different experiences from different backgrounds and industries, age, and education level.

But diversity is only half the equation; inclusion is equally vital. That's why our recruitment efforts extend to neurodivergent individuals, and our onboarding processes are tailored to provide them with the necessary support.

We strive to create an environment where all employees, regardless of their abilities, feel empowered to share their unique perspectives and ideas. We want them to feel that their differences are genuinely respected and appreciated.

Since 2022, we have been partnering with organisations like Yayasan Gamuda's Enabling Academy, allocating internship opportunities in Touch ‘n Go for their graduates who are on the neurodivergent spectrum. Our hiring managers undergo training sessions with the Academy to help them understand more about the candidates and provide them support in the workplace.

We’ve also collaborated with T8 Capital and Infinite Minds Academy to recruit neurodivergent individuals, furthering our commitment to inclusivity.

Our objective is to contribute back to the community, giving them equal opportunity to find a starting point in the working world by providing a platform to gain independence through working and earning an income.

Q What are some specific programmes or initiatives that Touch 'n Go has implemented to support and promote women in leadership positions within the company, and the wider fintech industry?

In the realm of fintech, diversity and inclusion have become cornerstones of progress, and at Touch ‘n Go, we're committed to leading by example. Gender diversity has been a focal point of our efforts, with a dedicated aim to achieve meaningful representation of women in our senior management team.

To support this goal, we've implemented a range of policies and programmes tailored to empower women in the workplace. Flexible working arrangements, mentorship initiatives, and diversity-focused hiring practices are just a few examples of our commitment to fostering an inclusive environment where everyone can thrive.

Beyond policy, we actively celebrate and champion women's empowerment through various activities and initiatives. From commemorating International Women’s Day to organising events that promote inclusivity and gender equality, we're dedicated to amplifying the voices and contributions of women across our organisation.

We understand the importance of creating a culture that truly values diversity and inclusivity at every level. Bringing it one step further, our women leaders also play their part by being role models and mentors to the younger generation of women within the organisation.

Q Could you provide examples of how gender diversity in leadership has positively impacted decision-making processes or innovation within the organisation?

At Touch ‘n Go, gender diversity in leadership has been associated with several positive impacts on decision-making processes and innovation within the organisation.

At Touch ‘n Go, gender diversity in leadership has brought a richness of perspectives and experiences, leading to more strategic decision-making and innovative solutions. I believe that the diversity within Touch ‘n Go’s leadership team enhances creativity and hastens problem-solving through open communication and collaboration.

A leadership team that reflects gender diversity also contributes to a more inclusive organisational culture which can positively impact employee engagement and satisfaction, leading to increased productivity and retention rates, and improved overall business performance.

Businesses often serve diverse customer bases, and a gender diverse leadership team can provide a better understanding of customer needs and cater to their various preferences. This, in turn, can contribute to more effective marketing and product development strategies.

Q What are some challenges women might face in the fintech industry, and how is Touch 'n Go addressing or supporting these challenges?

Regardless of the industry, women face challenges related to gender bias, unequal opportunities, or lack of representation. In my opinion, these challenges are not prevalent at Touch ‘n Go, as the company prioritises an individual’s competency, skills, and work performance over gender. Naturally, we do not focus on gender within our leadership team. This allows for valuable opinions or feedback from both genders. It has always been our practice to evaluate employees’ performance by their output and quality of work, without gender bias.

As a woman leader, we understand that women have added responsibilities at home, and we support working mothers by establishing a hybrid work environment with flexible working hours, as well as promoting a healthy work-life balance among all our employees.

Q In what ways does the company foster an inclusive workplace culture, particularly for neurodivergent individuals?

When it comes to fostering an inclusive workplace culture for neurodivergent individuals, we emphasise creating an inclusive environment by ensuring our employees who work with neurodivergent colleagues are equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills to effectively support and work with them.
In this regard, line managers are trained as job coaches for neurodiverse hires, and their teams are encouraged to attend training on neurodiversity awareness. This training is vital in helping employees understand the different neurodivergent conditions, reduce stigma, and promote an inclusive and supportive environment.

We also encourage clear and open communication with neurodivergent individuals to build trust so that they can voice their thoughts and ideas anytime. We ensure that they feel valued and supported throughout their working experience with us by including them in projects, hearing their thoughts and ideas, as well as practicing patience and flexibility; for instance, allowing flexible timelines for submission of work.

We take the time to speak to the parents to learn more about the individual to enable us to settle them in better by knowing their likes and dislikes.

Q Can you share insights into the challenges neurodivergent employees might face?

Neurodivergent individuals, whose neurological development and functioning differ from the typical population, may face various challenges in the workplace. It's important to note that neurodivergence covers a broad spectrum of conditions, including autism, ADHD, dyslexia, and others. The challenges faced by neurodivergent employees can vary widely based on the individual and the specific neurodivergent condition. The common challenges they face are related to communication, sensory sensitivities, and navigating social interactions.

At Touch 'n Go, our managers overseeing neurodivergent talents demonstrate patience, understanding, and acceptance through one-on-one sessions to better grasp their needs. We create a comfortable environment for open dialogue, allowing them to express concerns while collaboratively exploring solutions.

By fostering a supportive and accommodating culture, we aim to empower neurodivergent employees to thrive in their roles.

Q What strategies or best practices has Touch 'n Go discovered in integrating neurodiverse teams or individuals into collaborative projects, effectively?

Our experience in working with neurodivergent talents has taught us the importance of open, clear communication and providing a supportive environment. By fostering a sense of belonging and facilitating their professional development, we demonstrate care and appreciation, encouraging reciprocal communication.

We prioritise continuous learning and education for all employees to cultivate a culture of understanding and collaboration with neurodivergent colleagues. Through these efforts, we strive to create an inclusive and supportive workplace for everyone.

Q What are companies missing out on by not prioritising diversity?

We believe that diversity fosters innovation, enhances problem-solving skills, and ultimately contributes to the overall success and sustainability of the company. As such, companies that do not prioritise diversity are missing out on a wealth of perspectives, ideas, and talents. Without diversity, we run the risk of being one-track-minded because we only have one way of thinking. It also hinders our employees from growing and learning from others with diversified experiences and backgrounds.

Being a homegrown brand, Touch ‘n Go’s products and services are used by all Malaysians. It only makes sense that the people we hire also come from a diverse range of backgrounds to cater to the needs and wants of our varied customers.

Q On the personal front, how are you practising and advocating for diversity in your day-to-day life?

I have always practised inclusivity in both my personal and professional life. It's a mindset I embody daily, ensuring that everyone feels valued and respected.

As a leader in Touch ‘n Go, I make it a priority to instill these same values in my team and throughout the organisation.

At work, we are always looking for ways and opportunities to have better inclusivity, hence, blind CVs for example, are an inclusivity-conscious way of how we do things here at Touch ‘n Go. With it, our selection of talents are based on performance and output.

Using gender-neutral words in our hiring advertisements and messaging is another example. These are regular practices in place, and as such, are pretty much imbued as an employee culture for us at Touch ‘n Go.

Leading by example, I firmly believe that when we mindfully practise diversity, every day, it naturally will transpire into the team and the culture we have here at Touch ‘n Go.

Lead image / Provided

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