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 19th part of our series, HR leaders from Digi, Juniper Networks Asia Pacific, Nium, Reed Smith, Symphony Communication Services, and Zalora, share the following: 

  • Being deliberate in their efforts to inspire and empower women in the workforce.
  • Introducing programmes to equip employees with the tools to navigate difficult conversations and actively mitigate unconscious bias.
  • Ensuring that both genders are equally considered for every position, project, progression and promotion.
  • Removing barriers to progression to ensure that everyone can reach their full potential and access the most senior roles in the firm.
  • Focusing on equity of talent outcomes.
  • Making a commitment to gender equality and wider diversity that starts from the talent identification process, and extends through the end-to-end employee experience.

Elisabeth Stene, Digi’s Chief Human Resource Office

At Digi, we have always maintained that a diverse workforce is a critical pillar of good governance, the key for an organisation to perform at its optimum level by driving better decision making, stimulating innovation, increasing organisational agility, and strengthening resilience to disruption.

Over the years, we have instilled a culture where differences are celebrated and talents regardless of background are empowered with similar opportunities. From a gender perspective, Digi is deliberate in our efforts to inspire and empower our female workforce through various implementations.

varying from a Board Diversity Policy, a 6-month maternity policy, flexible work arrangements supporting employees in balancing work and family life and a gender pay analysis to maintain checks and balances. Digi provides a leadership succession programme for top female talents to nurture and help them assimilate and excel in leadership roles.

To date, Digi has a 50-50 gender balance workforce. Digi’s commitment in driving gender equity is acknowledged and we are recently listed in Bloomberg’s 2021 Gender Equality Index (GEI), an achievement that we are proud of as we continue to build an inclusive workplace with dynamic work culture where all employees are given equal opportunities to achieve their fullest potential both at work and in life.

Maria Zhang, Senior Director, HR, Juniper Networks Asia Pacific

In 2020, we launched the JUNI Women Leadership Network, which serves as a platform where women can continuously cultivate their leadership skills through peer mentoring, while influencing other colleagues to do the same. These talents were also enrolled into a 7-month long corporate Women Leadership Programme, which is designed to accelerate their growth as leaders.

We have also introduced programmes to equip employees with the tools to navigate difficult conversations and actively mitigate unconscious bias.

At Juniper, our mission is to power connections and empower change. This is demonstrated in the way our people are unafraid of stepping out of their comfort zones to expand their awareness to make Juniper a more inclusive and diverse workplace.

Nupur Mehta, Global HR Business Partner, Nium

Everyday, CEOs, senior management and corporations make decisions based on economic or, meeting targets/KPIs. But now, more companies are called to serve a stronger purpose beyond just the financial rewards.

As a female leader in Fintech – an industry where women are still underrepresented in leadership positions – equal opportunities is something I hold close to heart because we must inspire women to achieve better female representation at the highest levels.

I have witnessed how the incredibly talented and driven women at Nium have contributed to the organisation’s rapid growth and successes, and that motivates me to spare no efforts in training and developing female leaders to impact the wider Fintech industry.

In fact, more women than men were promoted last year based on merit (21% vs 16%). From ensuring that both genders are equally considered for every position, project, progression and promotion, we aim to be a springboard propelling women to achieve greater things in Fintech.

Kevan Skelton, Chief Human Resources Officer at Reed Smith

At Reed Smith Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is at the forefront of everything we do. We are hugely committed to improving the status quo because we know how important diversity of thought is for the success of the firm. It improves our ability to innovate and to provide the best service to our clients.

Improving gender equity is something the firm has focused on for many years. We are committed to removing barriers to progression to ensure that everyone can reach their full potential and access the most senior roles in the firm.

Scott Slipy, Chief People and Human Resources Officer, Symphony Communication Services

We think first about equity of representation. Meaning, we look at our existing workforce and hiring pipeline from a gender diversity perspective relative to the talent availability for the professions and locations where we employ. We want to reflect the communities where we do business and have appropriate gender representation at all levels of the company.

We are also focused on equity of talent outcomes. Meaning, we monitor the performance data, attrition rates, and actual pay delivery data for all employees and assess to ensure we don’t have differences along gender lines. This is about ensuring that both men and women are thriving at Symphony at comparable rates.

Finally, we also assess and monitor the perceptions and sentiments of employees about multiple aspects of their experience at Symphony. Culture, leadership, values, working conditions, development support, etc. Again, these data are sorted and compared based on gender to help us uncover insights and opportunities about where people might be experiencing things differently based on gender. And when a difference is identified, even if we don’t know the reasons behind the difference in perception, we at least have a starting place to dig deeper and look for opportunities to learn and improve.

Louise Pender, General Counsel and Chief People Officer at Zalora

At Zalora, our commitment to gender equality starts with our values, is recorded in our Celebrating Diversity Policy, and is reflected in our behaviours. With an employee group of over 30 nationalities and a near equal gender split, it is fundamental that we foster a culture of inclusiveness and belonging.

Our commitment to gender equality and wider diversity principles begins with our talent identification process, and extends through the end-to-end employee experience as part of our equal opportunity practices and the principles of fairness and merit.

We are fortunate to have several very talented women in our senior leadership team who have helped to inspire and champion other female leaders in areas that have traditionally not attracted female talent, such as technology, headed by Silvia Thom, our CTO. We look to their example to encourage the next generation female leaders, but it is incumbent on all of us to continuously and very deliberately unearth and eradicate those hidden areas of bias in our business policies and practices.

Photos / provided

First row, L-R: Elisabeth Stene, Maria Zhang, and Nupur Mehta. Second row, L-R: Kevan Skelton, Scott Slipy, and Louise Pender.

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