Investing in Women at the Workplace
At Gamuda, gender balance in leadership has never been an option, but a transformational journey we’ve embarked on for decades. In a male-dominated industry such as construction, one-third of the workforce consists of women. Of this, 60% are married and 67% are in the age group below 40 years of age, who are either likely to have young families or plan to start one.
These statistics are important because despite having made large strides towards gender equality, the belief and practice of women taking up the bulk of domestic responsibilities are unfortunately still pervasive. For organisations looking to level the playing field in the workplace, we must then ask ourselves: How can we encourage women to join and remain in the workforce, and how can we admirably support those who are playing dual roles as working mothers or primary caregivers?
To find out how Gamuda is doing things differently in their investment for women in the workplace, we spoke with Wong Lye Ling, Senior General Manager of Group Human Resources and Admin to share her thoughts. As Lye Ling’s experience of being in the company since May 2017, she remarks that Gamuda has long dedicated themselves to ensuring women are able to balance work and family expectations. These investments come in the form of expanding our benefits package and facilities to better suit working mothers’ needs, such as providing childcare subsidy, creche facilities, family care leave, flexible working hours and work-from-home arrangements on a need-be basis.
While many of these benefits are women-centric, they are not limited to male colleagues who also juggle work and family. This initiative stems from the understanding that when we support our employees, we are also consciously supporting their spouses and their ability to share family responsibilities— a consequential by-product that has positive lasting impacts on women as well.
When asked for her views on women in leadership positions, Lye Ling disagrees with narratives such as “It’s hard for women to rise in the corporate world”. Instead, she shares that if a woman truly aspires to be at a higher position and is willing to work for it, she can overcome cultural impediments.
Gamuda has always been void of biases when it comes to hiring policies, people practices and managing talents. This makes for a more sustainable approach in managing our workforce as it cultivates a culture and environment where people are recognised for their merits, abilities and strengths rather than gender.
As a testament to this, 40% of our Board of Directors consists of women. More recently, we appointed new members to the Gamuda Engineering and Gamuda Land Boards, of which 4 out of 9 new members are women. These appointments demonstrate that opportunities to rise in the company’s leadership are there for those who aspire to it, as well as to serve as inspiration for women that there is no glass ceiling in the construction industry. To Lye Ling, there is no stronger message to prompt women and men to think differently than this.
We are currently drafting an Anti-Discrimination Policy to further formalise our commitments to level the playing field for women. We are dedicated to creating equal opportunities for those who wish to grow with the company. By sharing our progress, we hold ourselves accountable and acknowledge that there is still room to improve. This is not just a topic for International Women’s Day – we are committed to gender equality every single day.
Jaya Menon, who is the advisor of Gamuda Women Empowerment Network (GWEN), shares Lye Ling’s vision and plans. As a woman who has been successful in juggling both career and family, Jaya believes that positive change is possible when employers help women blend work and life. Employees of both men and women can also be co-champions for change. By collaborating, we can then update work structures and build a level playing field that would be beneficial to all. Find out how you too can ignite change while achieving your career aspirations as a woman here: