How can leaders foster more diversity in the workplace?

Two leaders from Shoretel and SAP Asia-Pacific share their unique insights with HRM Asia.

Frédéric Gillant

Vice-President and Managing Director,

Asia-Pacific, Shoretel

Leaders have to do everything they can to encourage diversity: it is an ongoing journey and never a goal that is complete. I always have in mind to build and work with as diverse a team as possible, and I know focusing on this ultimately benefits my organisation in many ways.

Right now, we have a good balance at ShoreTel Asia-Pacific with a 50-50 gender ratio. We are strong advocates in having equal gender representation at all levels, and more so at levels of impact.

In fact, our Global Senior Vice President of Solutions, who leads hundreds of research and development engineers, Eugenia Corrales, is female. However, the ratios associated with diversity are always changing and is a work in progress for any business. That challenge is one that leaders should accept as being part of their role, along with long-term responsibility and the need to retain a conscious effort.

A big step in achieving this is awareness and leading by example. This has to be felt in your day-to-day leadership, and during crucial times such as when hiring and creating teams. It has to be an instinctive part of the hiring process and leaders should encourage hiring managers to develop the same mindset.

For organisations that operate across multiple markets globally, and especially across Asia-Pacific, the key is understanding the cultures and maximising the opportunities this presents. By making sure you have a well-represented team, it drives a deeper understanding of the markets you operate in.

A good leader does not just embrace diversity, but actively empowers it.

Jairo Fernandez

Senior Vice President, HR,

SAP Asia-Pacific (including Japan)

The workplace is becoming increasingly complex, as companies face generational turnover, cultural evolution, widespread immigration, emerging markets, and advancing technology.

In this demanding digital economy, diversity and inclusion are critical to competitiveness. It is imperative that diversity is integrated into all parts of the organisation, making it a lens for looking at, identifying, developing, and advancing talent.

The technology industry is home to the world’s innovators, which is why diversity is of special importance to us. SAP is the first multinational technology company to be awarded the worldwide Economic Dividends for Gender Equality certificate, recognising our global commitments and actions in achieving and sustaining gender diversity and equality in the workplace.

As a global organisation with employees from more than 150 nationalities and five generations in our workforce, we value every individual for what they have to contribute. We embrace and encourage different perspectives and we are made stronger by our unique combination of culture, ethnicity, age, gender, sexual orientation, or ability.

The technology industry is notorious for its gender inequality, and to exercise our duty of care for women and leadership, we address four elements: hiring, training, policies, and programmes. To promote women in leadership, we have made a global commitment to reach 25% women in management by the end of 2017.

Beyond gender identity, another unique initiative we have is the Autism at Work programme, to integrate people with Autism Spectrum Disorder into the workforce. Globally, we have around 100 employees with autism, taking up roles such as data analytics, marketing associates, and software development.

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