In the past few years, Indonesia has experienced an average of 5% annual growth in Gross Domestic Product (GDP). One of the contributing factors to this is a fast-increasing population of women in the workforce—almost five times in the past three years alone.
Yet, Indonesia was ranked only 88th in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2016. At the corporate level, creating the conditions to increase participation of women in the workforce remains challenging and complex.
Where should employers begin?
Diversity and inclusion requires deliberate effort, as shown by Aon Best Employers in Indonesia. 20% of Best Employers have identified diversity management as a top priority and set minimum quotas for hiring women in their organisations, together with strategies to meet these quotas.
These strategies include understanding what drives engagement for women in the workforce. From 2013 to 2016, engagement levels among women at Best Employers Indonesia organisations have increased 1.8 percent year on year—despite the decrease across Indonesia.
What are Aon Best Employers in Indonesia doing right?
1. Provide infrastructure conducive to women
In Indonesia, most young women leave their jobs when they become mothers because they don’t get sufficient support on meeting the needs of their children and families. These women may also turn down leadership positions, even though they are identified as high potential talent—which is a wasted opportunity for both the individual as well as the organisation.
Yet this significant problem has a simple solution: Provide infrastructure at the workplace to support young mothers, such as nursing rooms and childcare facilities—reasonably low investments that come with extremely high perceived value to women employees.
2. Allow for flexible work arrangements
Flexi working hours allows employees to work any 8 hours of the day (not strictly from 8am to 5pm); while flexi working space allows employees to work remotely, either at home or another office closer to their home. Many women employers at Best Employer Indonesia organisations have benefited from these schemes, and believe it helps them to achieve the level of work-life balance they desire.
3. Offer attractive career and learning opportunities
Women look for employers who offer equal and attractive opportunities for learning and development as well as career progression. 79 percent of Aon Best Employers in Indonesia already do this, compared to the market average of just 63 percent, which leads to a lower attrition rate among women.
4. Develop women leaders actively
By offering equal opportunities for women, identifying those who belong in the succession pipeline is a natural process—while still being sensitive to their personal commitments to children and family.
One Aon Best Employer in Indonesia does this by creating an informal women’s support group within the organisation, which focuses on widening the women’s network and provides a safe forum for an exchange of ideas as well as support for new joiners. The network also helps to increase the level of awareness women employees have of career opportunities available—which, in turn, helps the organisation proactively grow the pipeline of capable women for leadership roles.
The top five areas selected by women about their Best Employers organisations in Indonesia are performance management (84 percent), learning and development as well as supervision (each 82 percent), rewards and recognition (81 percent), and senior leadership (77 percent).
Underlying each of these areas of strength is a commitment to diversity and inclusion, creating an environment where women believe they are receiving the support they need from their supervisors and leaders to perform well at the workplace—without compromising on their personal commitments. Correspondingly, HR policy and processes such as flexible working arrangements are designed with the changing life stages of women employees in mind.
As the contribution of women to Indonesian business grows increasingly significant, only the most forward-thinking employers will have the strategies in place to attract the best among them. By monitoring the engagement levels of women, not just once a year but through pulse surveys throughout the year, employers become more equipped to act on the key drivers for their women employees. There is no better time than now for Indonesian employers to harness the full potential of the women in their workforce.
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A version of this article first appeared in The Jakarta Post on 16 January 2017.