KUALA LUMPUR – For the past few years, multinational omnichannel solutions partner RS Components has been releasing a gender pay gap report. In fact, the electro components giant has an actionable plan in place to focus on reducing the pay gap and making the hiring process more inclusive. 

 Sean Er Lim, the General Manager for the company’s Malaysia operations, talks about how the diversity and inclusion policies are followed across the world, how South East Asia is faring better than the developed countries and how more women can be encouraged to enter the STEM industries. 

Diversity Strategy

Diversity and inclusion is at the heart of the strategy at RS Components, as the company believes that having a diverse team can help address a variety of customer needs and challenges, shares Sean. It also helps the employees with different skill sets and work experience to put their heads together and cultivate an environment of innovation, she adds. 

Every company wishes to be the first choice for its customers, but this one also aims to be the first choice for all employees, irrespective of their ethnicity, religion, age, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability. With this end in mind, they have employee-led networks that touch upon areas like well being, gender, LGBTQ+. “This helps in giving employees an avenue to be their true selves at work and create close-knit communities within the organization,” explains Sean.

One of the successful endeavours in this direction is the women’s network, which empowers women in the organization to put their best foot forward and lean on other women in the organization for support and encouragement. 

Leading the Way  

The multinational company has found it a little difficult to maintain gender diversity in its Asian offices, owing to some societal norms and biases in some Asian communities. Sean points out that there are fewer women in top political and business roles in Asia compared to the global average. 

“That said, the region has made great strides to narrow gender gaps, and it shows. If you zone in on South East Asia, you’ll find a higher number of women in the working population and in higher education compared to the rest of the world. Women make up 32% of Southeast Asia’s tech industry, as opposed to 28% worldwide,” she says. 

As an example, she talks of the RS Components leadership team in South East Asia where three of the four key markets are led by female country managers. She goes on to say that it is the company’s commitment towards diversity that has helped successfully increase the number of women in leadership roles to 32% in 2020. Across the organization, gender representation is split 50/50, encompassing an equal number of women and men.

Corrective Measures 

RS Components has been doing more than lip service, and measuring its own performance in terms of diversity and inclusion every year. They are also reviewing their external recruitment policies to make them bias free while expanding upon internal mobility, transparency when it comes to rewards, promotions, and pay. 

Two major findings of their report from last year were that a majority of the company’s senior management is male and there are more males in high-paying roles and specialties. “To address this, we’ve piloted a recruitment and selection process that would encourage female applicants to apply for higher paying roles in our company and in male-dominated tech roles,” informs Sean. There are internal network groups to support female employees with their career progression, she adds. 

Being a working mother herself, she understands the difficulty in maintaining a work-life balance. Therefore, she thinks it’s important that the company has taken initiatives like flexible work hours to support working parents in balancing their priorities at work and at home. Releasing the annual gender pay gap report, she says, is their way of raising awareness as well as to reiterate the company’s commitment to employees. 

RS Components wants to foster an environment where employees can be themselves, thrive, succeed, enjoy work, and have a work-life balance. “Having a happy and engaged team  allows us to put our best selves forward at work, and to give our customers quality and personalized service,” she says. 

Women in STEM  

Another novel way to address the gender pay taken up by the company is empowering the future workforce by helping students and young professionals become interested in STEM roles. “In APAC, we’ve teamed up with a foundation that provides online courses to girls and software to those interested in developing design and engineering skills. We also work with local universities and colleges to encourage young people to pursue higher education in STEM,” shares Sean. 

She believes that in order to encourage more girls to pursue STEM education, we need more female role models in STEM for children to look up to. Things are looking up, she says, as more women in the region are now pursuing higher education and careers than ever before. 

Pandemic Support 

As the working population around the world started adjusting with the new normal of work from home, balancing childcare with work responsibilities became a big challenge for parents. “When the pandemic hit, the health and wellbeing of employees was reiterated as a key priority. Flexible working arrangements were implemented, and as remote working became the norm, new structures were put in place to help us effectively navigate new ways of working,” Sean says while talking about the transition period.  

Resources such as the Keep Connected website were rolled out, allowing employees to take charge of their wellbeing, she informed. This website brought podcasts, applications, workshops, and exercises to one platform for RS employees. Employees also benefited from guides on how to juggle family life while working remotely, how to manage stress and anxiety during this time, and even how they can keep fellow colleagues and remote teams engaged. 

“We understand how easy it is for employees to feel isolated during this time. Technology has helped us support our employees in this respect, by maintaining personal connections online. Our Working for Women employee network groups have also given employees a platform to connect with other women in the organization, and to continue building their practical skills even as they stay at home,” shares Sean.