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 21st part of our series, HR leaders from Alstom Asia-Pacific, Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS), Mars Wrigley Global Emerging Markets, SABIC, Sophos, ThoughtWorks, and VF Corporation, share the following:

  • Encouraging women to study STEM and recruiting women to the company at every level.
  • Emphasising a strengths culture, while encouraging a balance between collaboration and autonomy.
  • Driving a #HereToBeHeard movement to gather women’s voices to help identify concrete actions to close the gender opportunity gap.
  • Ensuring everyone is treated fairly, with dignity, and respect.
  • Having a comprehensive suite of global Diversity and Inclusion initiatives that cover key verticals including gender and age.
  • Building awareness on topics like building equitable tech, unconscious bias, micro-aggressions, and more.
  • Partnering with organisations to increase the number of women and achieve equality across the global business.

Eo-Kyung Moon, Vice President Human Resources, Alstom Asia-Pacific

The rail industry has always been male-dominated, with the perception that it is not an 'appropriate' or 'suitable' industry for women. Historically the industry has failed to attract and engage women workers due to this outlook.

However, we are beginning to see positive change. Alstom is committed to encouraging women to study STEM subjects, including engineering, and actively seeks to recruit women to our company at every level, from factory floor to boardroom, in all 70 markets where we are active.

As the number of successful women in our industry grows, its traditional culture will change. Showcasing the achievements of our female leaders and employees will help change perceptions, highlight opportunities and create a truly diverse environment within the railway industry.

Ng Ee Leng, HR director of Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS)

When someone devotes one-third of their hours each day to your mission, you also want them to have fun!

At the Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS), we want our employees to find meaning in their work, just as they enable our donors to journey with us to create impact in the community. It’s no secret that the charity sector performs well in promoting diversity and gender equity– at all levels.

How we achieve this at CFS is by emphasising a strengths culture, while encouraging a balance between collaboration and autonomy. Our youngest staff work directly with seasoned veterans, with opportunities to shine in the first year.

We also acknowledge that our people have interests and commitments for the other 16 hours. Whether it’s making time for sports or art, caregiving, or even another degree, we believe that acknowledging the whole person is the best way to celebrate equity.

Katie Ryan, Capability, Inclusion & Diversity Director, Mars Wrigley Global Emerging Markets

At Mars, we’re striving to empower more women across our workplace and value chain to build a connected, caring and celebratory organisation where everyone feels valued, supported and recognised. In the Mars Wrigley Global Emerging Markets geography, which comprises AMEA and LATAM, we’ve achieved 50-50 gender representation in our Asia leadership team, and are continuing to level the gender split amongst other regional leadership.

Globally, we’re driving action through our #HereToBeHeard movement, which aims to gather women’s voices to help identify concrete actions business and society can take to close the gender opportunity gap.

The study will inform how Mars can make the biggest impact in gender equity, determine where our partners and others throughout our value chain can do the same to bring about change at scale, and provide insights and resources for people and businesses to inspire tangible action and make a measurable difference in women’s lives everywhere.

Amanda Guo, Senior Manager, HR Operations, Asia, SABIC

At SABIC, people are the cornerstone of our success. We recognise that diversity of experience and knowledge in an inclusive environment can drive us to become more innovative.

It is imperative for all organisations to create a gender equal environment where women’s voices are heard and celebrated. This aligns with SABIC’s values and is reinforced through our Code of Ethics, Fair Employment Practices, which safeguard fair treatment and a respectful work environment. As an Equal Opportunity Employer, we ensure everyone is treated fairly, with dignity and respect.

Through our SABIC Women’s Network, our female employees collectively discuss gender equality, best practices and influence policies within the company. In Asia Pacific, over 30% of female employees hold leadership positions.

We continue to support opportunities for our female employees by prioritising the creation of an inclusive environment, while looking after the physical, emotional and social wellbeing of all staff.

Diana McIntyre, Regional HR Manager, Sophos APAC

Sophos celebrates diversity and is committed to building an inclusive culture where everyone, regardless of gender, feels they can bring their authentic self to deliver their best work in a supportive environment. It is an environment where women can excel and thrive while achieving their personal and professional goals.

Sophos has a comprehensive suite of global Diversity and Inclusion initiatives that cover key verticals (gender, age, people of colour, multicultural awareness).

This includes the Sophos Women in Technology (SWiT) employee resource group, which focuses on building communities within Sophos to solve barriers in the workplace to ensure an inclusive culture for all. Successful programs and initiatives such as paid parental leave, recruitment policies targeting female IT talent and leadership and mentoring programs driven by senior Sophos leaders are a direct result of the deep commitment in equality at all levels of Sophos.

Rosario Arena, Head of People, ThoughtWorks

We have always believed that diversity, equity, and inclusion have the power to create transformative social change, and that fostering an inclusive workplace is essential for the production of great ideas and work of the highest quality.

To make ThoughtWorks a safe home for ThoughtWorkers, we build awareness on topics like building equitable tech, unconscious bias, micro-aggressions, being a good ally, prevention of discrimination and harassment in our workplaces, and more.

When it comes to equity in the workplace, we must walk the talk. We invest heavily in supporting and developing female technologists through recruitment choices, parental policies and mentorship/leadership opportunities.

Representation is also important: almost half of our Southeast Asia Leadership Team is made up of women. But ultimately, inclusion is everyone’s job. It unifies us as a community, and brings out the best in individuals and teams.

Agnes Tan, Vice President, Human Resources, Asia Pacific, VF Corporation

Throughout VF’s history, women have had a significant impact on our growth into the leading organisation it is today, and building on this momentum, we continue to invest in multi-track opportunities to further the growth, development, and empowerment of our women at all levels.

Take, for example, our partnership with Paradigm for Parity, which has provided us with an action plan to increase the number of women of all races, cultures and backgrounds in leadership positions. Or our commitment to the United Nations Women’s Empowerment Principles, which enhances our existing programs aimed at achieving equality for women across our global business.

Today, our global representation of women in leadership roles stands at 40% in January 2021. In APAC, that proportion stands at 49%.

Globally, 54% of grants funded by the VF Foundation goes towards programs and services that directly support women and girls in overcoming existential and aspirational challenges.

Through these efforts and more, we ensure that women continue to shape VF’s future and accelerate the pace of gender equity here.

Photos / provided

First row, L-R: Eo-Kyung Moon, Ng Ee Leng, and Katie Ryan. Second row, L-R: Amanda Guo, Rosario Arena, and Agnes Tan.

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