In her commentary, Sophie was quick to point out a McKinsey study which revealed that Asia Pacific generally has a lower average gender parity score as compared to the rest of the world. Compared to the global average of 0.73, Asia Pacific was at a 0.44.
However, it has been proven time and again that companies with gender diversity perform better financially.
According to a survey done by The Peterson Institute for International Economics, over 21, 000 firms (across 91 countries) have found that having women at senior management levels have increased net margins exponentially.
Despite proven data that diversity and inclusion in the workplace is important for the success of a company, there’s still plenty that can be done to ensure that this continues in the long run and that inclusion across different metrics are met.
For our story, we decided to speak to established tech companies and local startups to find out why they think diversity — across gender, age and professional background — is pivotal to the expansion and development of a company. Representatives of these tech companies have also shared case studies to support their beliefs.
Rachel Lee, Senior Regional HR Business Partner at Shopback
“ShopBack doesn’t believe in having fixed quotas for diversity. We’re meritocratic in our hiring process. We hire the person who can drive the best outcomes based on assessment of his/her functional skills and culture fit. This has served us well thus far. We’ve a 50:50 gender balance at ShopBack with more than 15 nationalities.
The company also believes that a diverse mix of people bring in different traits and perspectives. This intellectual and experiential diversity allows us to tap on the best from our teams. It also helps us to better understand our diverse audience from seven different countries.
What’s more, we’ve seen that having diversity has helped in circumventing groupthink and enabled us to innovate and experiment. A diverse mix of people brings in fresh perspectives which allows us to solve problems in various ways. Diversity in our teams also enables us to be more mindful of subconscious bias and to communicate our perspectives more clearly for the listener, rather than ourselves.”
Rachna Sampayo, Vice President and Head of HR at Oracle ASEAN
“Fostering a diverse and inclusive workforce is a way of life at Oracle. It is our responsibility as a socially responsible organisation and industry leader to pave the way and raise awareness for the importance of diversity at the workplace. Diversity always starts with the leadership and supported at very management level as they play a key role in cultivating an environment that is inclusive, diverse and enriching.
Our hiring practices go beyond skillsets in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. It is about ensuring that the work spaces across our organisation continues to be a thriving and dynamic environment for our employees, where there is strong representation across demographics and gender. This is something we take very seriously, and place strong emphasis on as we believe all employees will develop and progress in an environment that values diversity.
This includes several measures, including hiring women at graduate and mid-career levels and having at least one female panellist on a recruitment panel to ensure this. Underpinning all of this is our Equal Employment Opportunity policy, where we treat all employees and applicants equitably.
Additionally, Oracle’s innovation and competitive advantage depend on the talents, skills, and backgrounds of its diverse workforce. A diverse workplace is a key tenet of our organisational culture because it is only when we continuously bring together a wealth of ideas that our organisation continues to be a fulfilling and engaging environment to be in, where innovation is fostered.
We are truly only as good as our people, and research has proven that teams that are more inclusive perform 80 per cent better and when diverse voices are given equal airtime, employees are 3.5 times more likely to speak up and share their thoughts.
We strongly believe in creating an environment where employees should feel safe and comfortable to be the best versions of themselves, both in and out of the office. Some practices that we have incorporated include creating platforms for employees to celebrate and find support. One such group is the Oracle Women’s Leadership (OWL) program which was started in 2006, and eventually grew into a key corporate-wide program, with a presence globally and more than 1,550 members.
It matters to us that we do not just talk the talk, but we truly demonstrate transparency in implementing practices that support and maximise diversity practices. This includes reverse mentoring, where younger employees are paired with more senior employees to exchange new perspectives, and ensuring a top down and the bottom up practice of diversity where a culture of inclusivity is encouraged at every level of the company.
At Oracle we also say that beyond the importance of diversity is inclusion. After talent from diverse backgrounds and with diverse skillsets are hired, it is important for them to be integrated and feel valued within the organisation. It is only with the right fit that employees begin to contribute towards a cohesive, productive team.
Beyond being an organisation that our employees want to be a part of, we want to also be a partner of choice to our customers. Customers now not only ask if our solutions can meet their needs but if we model the values of diversity, equality and inclusion that they believe in; if we have the capability to understand all of their needs, and even their end customer needs.
A ‘hiring for diversity’ HR strategy has enabled our employees to organise their work life and steer their career development with confidence and independence.
One example [of how hiring for diversity has worked in our favour] that I would like to highlight is that of Kavita Duggal who has been a part of Oracle for more than 22 years. Beyond her day-to-day role in strategy, she has also been a passionate OWL community leader for the last five years, where she works to organise activities for the Oracle Singapore team toward becoming a more inclusive workplace.
Another example is Geraldine Tay, Employee Success Lead ASEAN. Tying her passion of bringing people together to align with Oracle’s priority for Diversity & Inclusion, Gerry has initiated numerous affinity groups and Employee Resource Groups in Singapore. Gerry believes it is necessary to go beyond than just integrating a diverse group of people and that continuous efforts must be made to create a sense of belonging at Oracle. Within her two years at the company, Gerry has achieved that by actively creating and engaging communities within the organisation.
It is through stories such as Kavita and Gerry that we are spurred to continue providing platforms for employees to explore their passions and contribute toward causes that they strongly believe in, while charting their careers and experiencing well-rounded development and satisfaction of being a part of the organisation.”
Jackie Tan, Co-Founder at fundMyLife
“fundMyLife supports hiring for diversity. The co-founders value aptitude above all else In addition, I grew up on my mother’s saying that ‘Be it black or white cat, a cat that catches the mouse is a good cat’. Incidentally, I took a look at the gender ratio of the people we brought onboard fundMyLife so far, and we’re proud to achieve a 50-50 split.
My co-founder and I both studied biology and we know a homogenous environment is less robust than one that is diverse. We extend a lot of what we learned in biology onto running fundMyLife, e.g., algorithms, iterative design, and our perspectives on human resource is no different.
Some time last year, we were approached by Her World magazine because of our plans that were aimed at people in the society who were not adequately served by financial institutions (e.g. single mothers, freelancers etc.) We were also approached to provide our opinions on ElderShield’s plans by the Ministry of Health before they rolled out their plans. We found this really exciting because our main target audience are young adults between 25 and 35.”
Bregadeesh Sampathy, Chief Technology Officer, South East Asia at Sephora
“At Sephora, we believe diversity is a part of the company’s DNA and culture and look to cultivate it at every level. We greatly value the diversity within our teams and diversity is a key consideration for hiring.
The diversity of our teams is a key asset of the company. We have employees from over 16 nationalities and diversity is criteria for all roles we hire. Some of our job descriptions explicitly state “The data is definitive: diversity leads to better teams, better performance, and better results. Consequently, we actively seek candidates of all genders, backgrounds, and experiences.” which encapsulates our policy and commitment.
We believe our team culture is a key strength of the company. It has helped us attract and retain good talent, help us foster an environment of learning and innovation and diversity is a key ingredient to our team culture.
Our customers are not the same, they share a passion for beauty and skincare but can otherwise be more different in terms of background, ethnicities or gender. The fact that our teams are different help us relate to our customers better, it helps us question and ground our assumptions, our plans and ultimately deliver something that is more relevant to our customers.
We believe a diverse team is a more productive team. Productive teams have a culture of excellence and continuous learning and improvement. The learning is best exhibited in diverse teams, where differences are considered and celebrated.
I have had the pleasure of working with a manager for four years at the start of my career (at Luxola, a company that was subsequently acquired by Sephora). Not only was a she from a different background but she also had a different way of abstraction and thinking to mine. This was immensely enlightening as it helped shape me from being technology centric to customer centric and from being a strong introvert to being more balanced at work and to broadly develop a different way of thinking.
Working in a diverse team at the start of my career helped me to voice out and change myself for the better, understand and appreciate different functions, different regions and their ways of working. Ultimately, this has help me feel more empowered and connected to my work.”
Andee Chua, Head of Community at Found8
“For Found8′s hiring process, it is free from biases related to a candidate’s age, race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, and other personal characteristics that are unrelated to their job performance. We are more focused on whether the candidate carries our values and if they are able to fit into the culture. And one big part of it is the Growth Mindset. regardless of who they are, we would love to have people on the team who is constantly thinking of growing themselves, both as a person and for their career. It is an important value as that comes with a high level of self-awareness and discipline to continuously self-learn.
I think diversity hiring is important for all industry and not just the tech. However, we still see a lack of diversity in the tech industry — mainly dominated by men.
Especially for tech startups which are fast-moving and innovative, hiring for diversity has lots of benefits such as allowing employees to be more creative, productive, efficient thus, increasing profits. Companies will also gain from each employee by learning from each other’s experiences and applying this new-found knowledge to their work. Employees from all sorts of different backgrounds get to learn from their colleagues’ experiences from a different perspective. Thus, they are able to bring fresh ideas to the project by thinking out of their comfort zone.
When the above happens, it will lead to high engagement between the employees and in turn, lower turnover rate would be great result for diversity hiring. And that is one key factor for small startups who can’t afford to have high turnover rates.
As the Head of Community at Found8, I have to work with different people from different backgrounds and cultures all the time. And having work with diverse groups of individuals, I have picked up new knowledge and discovered new perspectives in handling situations.
While there have been times where we failed to understand the habits and cultures of each other, which can result in conflict, I view those are learning points too.
By enjoying a more culturally diverse workforce, employees spend more time in their daily lives with people from cultural backgrounds that they are often never exposed to. The end result of this is that employees learn new cultural insights and this in turn, reduces negative emotions such as racism, homophobia, sexism and the like.
Additionally, in our push to become more inclusive, Found8 has also created toilet signs: He, She and Ze. This simple act reflects our efforts in pushing the community towards embracing diversity and creating a more inclusive and diverse environment at Found8.”
Deborah Heng, Country Manager at Mastercard Singapore
“We believe diversity is the backbone of innovation. It is infused throughout Mastercard in the way we hire, develop and retain diverse teams, enabling us to bring together the best talents to execute on big ideas and achieve a competitive advantage.
The variety of perspectives, strengths and valuable experiences of unique individuals allows us to generate better insights and develop better products and solutions for different consumer segments.
In creating an inclusive environment, our work policies have adapted to the needs of our employees, such as flexi-work hours, work from home options and our ‘Relaunch Your Career’ programme to help mothers find their way back into the workplace.
We also provide our employees with the right tools and create opportunities for them to excel, gain new professional experiences and feel inspired to do their best work.”
Shweta Shukla, Director Human Resources, Asia-Pacific at Netflix
“There is sufficient research that shows how diversity in a company leads to better business performance and growth, as well as a healthier working environment. In fact, savvy companies around the world are moving from merely hiring for diversity, to also ensuring an inclusive environment that can effectively harness the synergy of a diverse workplace and where there is an active dialogue with employees.
At Netflix, we are also driven by the diversity of the 130 million members in over 190 countries; especially in developing content that celebrates and delights them. To do that effectively, our employees should also reflect this same wide range of perspectives, backgrounds and cultures. This is so that we are telling stories that can truly resonate with audiences around the world.
Netflix is an equal opportunity employer and strives to build a diverse team from all walks of life. Nevertheless, we are still on that journey and remain committed to working from the inside out. Ultimately, great work will happen when we can create a space where all employees and all voices are heard, understood and appreciated.”