Malaysia yet to harness the power of Diversity & Inclusion to help companies thrive in the age of disruption

Having a diverse workforce helps organisations successfully leverage continuous disruption but most companies in Malaysia have yet to show leadership in this area, according to recruitment experts Hays. New research from Hays reveals that Malaysian organisations not only falls behind other key Asian competitors when it comes to promoting women in the workplace, they are also not driving a broader diversity agenda.

A survey carried out across Asia in March and April this year formed the basis of the 2018 Hays Asia Diversity & Inclusion Report. The key findings have shown that more companies in Malaysia could benefit from training leaders to champion Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) and holding them accountable through setting targets and KPIs, and closely tracking the results.
64 per cent of respondents in Malaysia believe their leaders are biased towards employees who look, think and act as they do; this number is similar with 63 per cent across Asia. To add, 55 per cent of respondents felt their chances for career progression were constantly limited due to their gender, age or background. Correspondingly, 50 per cent of respondents in Malaysia felt their chances of being accepted for a job had been impacted by factors such as gender, marital status, family commitments, disability, ethnicity, religion or sexuality.

Only 31 per cent of survey participants in Malaysia work in companies that set D&I targets and KPIs for the organisation – higher than other countries/regions – and 41 per cent of organisations provide managers with D&I training.

The survey also asked participants if their organisations have set D&I targets and KPIs for senior and line managers. 35 per cent work in companies targets are indeed set, and that they have been actively working towards them. At the time of the survey, 46 per cent of participants in Malaysia reported to a female line manager – the highest among Hong Kong (31 per cent), Singapore (45 per cent), Mainland China (44 per cent) and Japan (28 per cent).

“Most of our respondents in Malaysia have identified improved company culture, better leadership and greater innovation as the top three benefits D&I can bring to an organisation,” says Tom Osborne, Managing Director of Hays Malaysia. “We agree. D&I helps create a company culture that encourages new ideas and ways of solving problems, and helps employees to adapt to constant change in evolving business conditions,” says Tom. “If most employees – and indeed business leaders – think the same and have similar life experiences, then it can make it harder to accept a different way of thinking or a new idea when it is voiced,” he adds.

“In today’s business lexicon, disruption means using technology to disrupt and grow industries and improve productivity. Disruption is considered a ‘hard trend’, which means it’s here to stay. It creates both opportunities and risk, and a diverse workforce helps organisations to act on the opportunities and manage such risks.” “D&I means having more women rising through the ranks but also having managers and employees of all ages and ethnicity, religions, cultures and even life experiences. This not only promotes new ways of thinking, but also more representative of the increasingly global customer base for many Malaysian products and services.”
Other findings of the 2018 Hays Diversity & Inclusion – Asia report include:
* 47 per cent of survey participants in Malaysia trust their leaders to deliver change in D&I while 40 per cent regard their corporate leaders as role models for D&I.
* 48 per cent of respondents believe their organisation seizes every opportunity to create a work culture that is more diverse and inclusive, compared to an average 39 per cent across all countries/regions.
* 53 per cent of survey participants in Malaysia work in organisations that actively promote flexible work practices for working parents and 47 per cent for all staff.
* 56 per cent of respondents work in organisations that are embracing flexible work practices as a standard part of the culture.
* 53 per cent of respondents in Malaysia believe their leaders understand the relationship between D&I and profitability, compared to 46 per cent across Asia.
* 53 per cent of respondents believe their leaders understand the link between D&I and customer insight, compared to 49 per cent across Asia.
* 58 per cent of respondents in Malaysia believe employees of the same capability are rewarded and/ or remunerated equally regardless of age, disability, ethnicity, gender, family commitments, marital status, race, religion or sexuality. This is a better result than the 62 per cent across Asia.

Source: Hays