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 third part of our series, HR leaders from Citi, Cigna International Markets, Diageo, Shopee, Unilever Asia, and Zendesk, tell us more.

Aditi Mahadevan, Asia Pacific Head of Talent, Learning and Diversity, Citi

At Citi, we actively seek out diverse perspectives. We regard diversity as a catalyst for improving performance, deepening engagement and boosting innovation.

As one of the first banks globally to disclose pay equity data, we elevated the conversation around gender parity, committing to change by publicly defining gender representation goals. Our increased transparency is a continued force for change both within and outside of our organisation.

In pressing ahead with our efforts, we leverage data-driven insights to track our progress. We also actively engage with our employees to gain insights on different areas including female attrition, the impact of leaves of absence on career trajectories and differentiating high-potential talent.

Diversity is a collective responsibility for leaders at the firm and as we always done, we continue to #ChoosetoChallenge. Driving broader change, we use our financial resources, talent and corporate voice to advance discussions around Diversity & Inclusion across the industry.

Michelle Leung, Head of HR, Cigna International Markets

Empowering women in the workplace has always been a priority at Cigna, and for me personally. The ability to work flexibly is now a necessity. Historically, women who did flexible work were perceived as less committed to their careers. Women also experience higher levels of stress as they juggle caring for their family while working from home.

As a leader, I’m committed to fostering an inclusive culture where we empower women with tools, insights and mentoring to help them better manage their own careers, teams, balance home and office working and build their mental resilience so we can emerge from this crisis together and stronger.

Toygan Pulat, Human Resources Director, Asia Pacific, Diageo

At Diageo, we pride ourselves on creating the most inclusive and diverse culture to ensure all our people thrive. As a global company, we know we have a responsibility to lead the conversation.

Society 2030: Spirit of Progress is Diageo's 10-year action plan to create a more inclusive and sustainable world. Our inclusion and diversity (I&D) goals include achieving 50% representation of women in leadership roles and 45% ethnic diversity among leadership.

We have also committed to increasing partnerships with supply chain businesses owned by women and underrepresented communities, and will provide business and hospitality skills training to 200,000 people through our learning programmes.

Since 2019, we have provided progressive parental leave packages, offering 26 weeks of paid leave regardless of gender or status as a primary or secondary carer.

These are just a few examples as our people are genuinely passionate about cultivating an equitable future for all. We are committed and confident in our ambition and Diageo will continue to push for more as we work together with our people, partners and communities.

Agatha Soh, Regional Head of People, Shopee

#ChooseToChallenge mirrors Shopee’s beliefs. At Shopee, we empower women to push boundaries, pursue their dreams, and carve their own paths to success. We continually strive to incorporate diversity and inclusion into our culture.

Shopee aims to offer all candidates equal opportunities to achieve their aspirations. We do our best to create more opportunities in tech for women, through consistent support for STEM initiatives and robust internal learning and development programs.

At the same time, we encourage open communication amongst all employees, to create a nurturing environment that allows them to develop themselves personally and professionally.

This culture has led to the development of meaningful employee initiatives, such as the Shopee Working Mothers’ group, where participants from all levels gather regularly to discuss new policies for working mothers.

Tam Trang Nguyen, Global Head of Human Resources, Unilever International cum Head of Human Resources, Unilever Asia

At Unilever, we believe that ensuring gender equity from the top will transform individual lives, societies, and businesses.

Globally, we achieved our goal of 50/50 gender balance across management globally last year, a year ahead of the target. Locally, we hit a significant milestone and were awarded the Gender Equality Impact Awards in 2020, by United Women Singapore to recognise our achievements in women empowerment.

We also teamed up with Unstereotype Alliance and Game Changers for Gender Equality to challenge and remove the stereotype from our business and the wider industry, as well as building purpose into our brands. Additionally, we track recruitment data through results-driven and scientific approaches such as the Gender Appointment Ratio to tackle unconscious bias across our business worldwide.

Moving forward, we are committed to ensuring a fair business, to attract and retain the best talent, and help them unlock their full potential through a fair and equitable hiring process.

Meiyea Neo, HR Director APAC, Zendesk

Building gender equity needs to happen across all fronts and all levels, and begins with championing people first and ensuring employees feel valued in the workplace.

While this has always been a focus at Zendesk, the pandemic increased the urgency to address the diverse needs of our intersectional workforce and offer greater flexibility and choices. For example, we launched a global COVID-19 caregiver leave policy and further support parenthood through benefits with Carrot Fertility.

Representation matters, and we take this seriously. Women currently make up 37% of our APAC workforce and 31% of our global leadership teams.

As Zendesk grows, we are intentional in seeking out and hiring underrepresented candidates, including building partnerships to capture female talents in tech.

We will be launching a global mentoring and professional development program for our existing talent from underrepresented communities, and continue to facilitate a sense of community through numerous Employee Resource Groups such as Women at Zendesk and Women in Engineering.

Photo / Provided [ First row, L-R: Aditi Mahadevan, Michelle Leung, Toygan Pulat. Second row, L-R: Agatha Soh, Tam Trang Nguyen, Meiyea Neo.]

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