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How APAC companies can improve women’s participation in tech

Kareyst Lin | March 8, 2017
What should organisations and governments do to promote gender diversity in the workplace? CIO Asia spoke to female leaders from Telstra, VMware, Juniper Networks, Accenture and Philips Lighting to find out.

"To ensure the participation of women across all levels, organisations need to support them to ensure long-term growth. Adequate leave, flexibility at work and childcare resources are a few essentials that can go a long way to providing a conducive environment for women to return to the workplace," she commented.

The problem turns into a vicious cycle that is hard to break. "Gender diversity in the boardroom is still a work in progress [as] board selection is often network-based. As a female face is not a familiar sight in the boardroom, it means female board candidates are already at a disadvantage because of lack of experience," Yim explained. 

Cass also added that "inherent biases and assumptions - such as women not being able to contribute fully due to family responsibilities - are myths that have been busted but still colour the perception in many countries."

Companies like Accenture and Telstra have taken steps to address this issue.

"Accenture has built clear strategies and targets around the entire employee lifecycle to attract, recruit, progress and retain an inclusive and diverse workforce," said Teo Lay Lim, Senior Managing Director, Accenture ASEAN and Country Managing Director, Accenture Singapore.

"To ensure progress, we have defined at a global, business and geographic level, a clear gender mix and recruitment mix targets. [Thanks to it,] 49.4 percent of our workforce in Accenture ASEAN (i.e. Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and Philippines) are women."

Accenture Teo Lay Lim
Teo Lay Lim, Senior Managing Director, Accenture ASEAN and Country Managing Director, Accenture Singapore

Accenture is also "committed to meaningful investments in building women's digital skills - through education, training and on-the-job learning - to help speed their progress at every career stage," Teo added. This supports Accenture's 'Getting to equal' research, which states that digital fluency is key to closing the gender gap at work. Digital fluency is defined as the extent to which people embrace and use digital technologies to become more knowledgeable, connected and effective.

"[As for] Telstra, we offer flexible work arrangements based on the needs of our employees. This can include options such as part-time work, working from different locations or working different hours. Since we implemented the All Roles Flex policy, we have seen very positive increases in engagement and retention," Andriesse shared.

There are also ways in which women can step up to shape the perspectives of how the industry views female leaders. "Instead of saying 'what can I do to fit in at work?' a successful woman in career will ask, 'How can I add value to the business environment?' advised Maria Zhang, Senior Director of Human Resources in APAC, Juniper Networks.


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