In line with International Women’s Day 2021, the team at Human Resources Online has put together a series of 22 stories under two distinct concepts with the overarching theme of #ChooseToChallenge to inspire organisations and leaders to push for a gender-equal society, by showcasing what their peers are doing in this area. 

For the first concept, we recognise that as guardians of employee wellbeing and a key stakeholder in company policy creation, HR leaders are in a unique position to challenge stereotypes, fight bias and inequity in the workplaces to bring about positive change.

In that line, we seek to highlight key HR interventions that promote gender equity, seek out and celebrate women's achievements, and create an inclusive workplace; by asking HR leaders to share their organisation's call-to-action in shaping a workforce that celebrates gender equity. 

In this first part of our series, leaders from DBS Bank, Maybank, Mondelēz International (Malaysia), Procter & Gamble, Siemens, Societe Generale, share their call-to-action.


Ng Ying Yuan, Chief Operating Officer, Group Human Resource, DBS Bank

At DBS, we are committed to diversity and inclusion which we believe are sources of strength.

By building diversity in our workforce, we can access a greater range of talent that bring with them varied and valuable experiences, perspectives and skills. A culture of inclusion helps us harness the power of our diverse workforce so that we can collectively create impactful outcomes for our customers and communities.

On gender equality, we run pivotal internal programmes, including “EmpowHer”, an exclusive learning path for female colleagues in technical roles that helps them in crafting and planning their career progression. “My Persona Woman 2.0” supports women in building relevant skills to lead and influence others.

We launched a bank-wide programme on Unconscious Bias last year, to help employees be more aware of instances when they may unintentionally discriminate against others.

We tailored our hiring approach to recruit more female tech talent through bespoke hiring events, partnering communities such as ThoughtWorks and Girls in Tech to increase our outreach to the brightest female talent.

To raise gender equality awareness, we celebrate International Women’s Day across all our key markets.

In the past two years, our employees have rated DBS positively for our inclusive working environment, and this spurs us to redouble our commitment to workplace diversity and inclusion.


Datuk Nora Manaf, Group Chief Human Capital Officer of Maybank

We believe in results and outcomes and we have the data to show for. This commitment remains strong and is our drive until today and forward.

We lead by example; our leaders drive the narrative for gender equity, mentoring and sponsoring women and men to strengthen their capacities and capabilities. We nurture a work environment where differences are respected, valued, where everyone has equal opportunities to advance.

Diversity, Equity & Inclusivity (DEI) principles are reflected in our Core Values and we promote governance frameworks including policies and practices to ensure equal gender participation and no discrimination.

We have maintained, since 2009, our people dashboard reviewed monthly to ensure we embrace DEI. The constant line of sight allows us to provide support to level the playing field in real-time. It is a responsibility which involves everyone in the organisation.

We raise employees’ understanding and awareness of the challenges, encouraging everyone to find solutions, to continuously manage and change behaviours to build a more flexible and empathetic workplace.

For us, strong accountability is key. DEI is a practice and an active decision to do good and right.


Charlene Phang, Human Resources Lead, Mondelēz International (Malaysia)

At Mondelēz Malaysia, our diversity is a strength that drives growth. Gender equality is important to us and we are proud to have a balanced gender representation in our organisation.

We believe that closing our senior leadership gap is crucial, hence, ‘Women in Leadership’ is one of our key strategies in promoting D&I. We maintain a scorecard to track women in leadership positions and today, we are living up to this commitment, as 30% of our leadership comprised of female leaders.

Mondelēz flexible working arrangement started several years ago, before the pandemic and it has helped our employees in managing a better work-life balance. We continuously focus on creating an ‘Inclusive and Bias-Free Workplace’ and this D&I value contributes towards a higher employee engagement.

As part of the effort to empower our female employees, Mondelēz offers an additional three months post-maternity work from home option, alongside a ‘Phase Back Programme’ to ease the transition back to work with a reduce work hours of 40% for 30 days. Two weeks of paternity leave is made available for our male employees, as we recognise that caring for a newborn is important to both parents.

Mondelēz team in Malaysia collaborates with our global D&I Community, focusing on; Colleagues – establish representation goals and promote diversity, Culture – establish the governance, KPI and develop relevant programme; and Community – foster and invest in strategic partnership that enriches the community.


Sarah Davies, Senior Vice President & Chief Human Resources Officer, Asia Pacific, Middle East & Africa at Procter & Gamble

At P&G, we aspire to build a world free from gender bias, with equal voice and representation for all. Our call-to-action is threefold.

Firstly, we are creating an inclusive, gender-equal environment inside P&G, where everyone can contribute to their full potential.

In our region, we will achieve a 50-50 gender balance across our management workforce by end-2022.

We have introduced a new parental leave scheme to support ALL new parents with equal opportunity and greater flexibility to care for new children.

Secondly, we believe in using the voice of our brands in advertising to tackle bias and promote equality.

For example, our Ariel ‘Share the Load’ or Always ‘New Brave’ campaigns. Finally, we are removing barriers to education for girls and promoting economic opportunities for women. We will educate 30 million girls on puberty and hygiene over the next three years through our Keeping Girls in School program and have committed to spend USD200 Million with women-owned businesses by 2025.


Ailani Wan Ibrahim, Head of HR, Siemens ASEAN

In 2016, Siemens signed the Women’s Empowerment Principles by the United Nations to strengthen women in the company.

Since then, we have doubled the share of women in our global management and ensured our Supervisory Board fulfils the statutory gender quota of 30% women.

In ASEAN, just last year alone, we’ve promoted six ladies to senior management, including a female CEO in Thailand, and these are all positions previously held by men. We’ve also sent out more women delegates to Germany and other parts of the world, compared to five years ago.

In addition to opportunities, we also ensure that our ladies work in a system that enables them to balance work and personal life. Way before COVID, we already have a flexible hours system and allow our staff to work from home.


Mukta Arya, Head of Human Resources, Asia Pacific, Societe Generale

In Societe Generale APAC, with our gender network members, we have systematically worked first on raising awareness about gender balance, then implemented specific actions to improve the balance, especially at senior levels.

We started with panel discussions, participation in external forums, unconscious bias trainings, sharing sessions by women leaders and then tackling specific targets for gender balance in key positions in the Group and in HR processes like recruitment, succession planning, promotions and development. We are now working towards institutionalising these measures.

We also implemented policy changes including enhancement of maternity and paternity leaves, dedicated programmes for female talents, support during parental transition, maternity coaching, executive coaching for senior female leaders and a newly implemented sponsorship programme for talents.

Our actions have started to reap results. Tackling inequity is a journey involving cultural complexities especially across the different APAC markets, yet we remain confident of making good and steady progress.


Photo / Provided [ First row, L-R: Ng Ying Yuan, Datuk Nora Manaf, Charlene Phang. Second row, L-R: Sarah Davies, Ailani Wan Ibrahim, Mukta Arya]

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