Much cooperation is needed from actors such as the state, enterprises, and social organisations to create an ecosystem with the best conditions for women to promote their ability, said the participants of VIR's talk show on March 8.
|Women need momentum to promote ability |
The online talk show “Empowering women in business and supporting startups” took place at 9-11am on March 8 and was livestreamed on baodautu.vn, YouTube, and VIR’s Facebook fanpages.
Participants agreed that in modern life, the gender disparity in almost all sectors is narrowed down, which is proven by the increase of women in leadership, management, and economic development.
Dinh Thi Thu Hoai, executive director of the Vietnam Business Coalition for Women's Empowerment said, “Creating an equal environment does not simply mean everyone is treated the same exact way, regardless of need or any other individual difference. It means everyone is provided with what they need to succeed.”
However, it would be undeniable that women need to have convenient conditions to make full use of internal resources, Hoai said. The conditions come from the state governance’s supporting policy, the empathy and sympathy from leadership in enterprises, and the supporting capital from social organisations.
Bui Thi Thu Thuy, deputy general director of the Enterprise Development Agency under the Ministry of Planning and Investment said, “With those goals in mind, the government has enacted and deployed many socioeconomic development programmes, aiding businesses, particularly giving priority to female enterprises. Accordingly, diverse national target programmes such as the Sustainable Poverty Reduction Programme or the Socioeconomic Development Programme catered to ethnic minority and mountainous areas are all geared towards development investment for poor households and ethnic minority areas in which many policies are set to aid the development of women and girls.”
Meanwhile, international organisations offer funds to implement projects to promote gender equality and enhance economic empowerment for women, especially ethnic minority women across the country.
Supporting the development of female entrepreneurs has always been an important policy orientation of the government. On March 3, the government issued the National Strategy on Gender Equality for the 2021-2030 period with the aim of further narrowing the gender gap, creating conditions and opportunities for women and men to participate in, and share equal enjoyment in all fields of social life, contributing to the country’s sustainable development.
The strategy has set out six target groups paving the way for women to fully participate in diverse aspects of socio-economic life; striving to raise the ratio of female directors and business owners to reach at least 27 per cent by 2025, and 30 per cent by 2030.
Bui Thi Thu Thuy - Deputy general director of the Enterprise Development Agency under the Ministry of Planning and Investment
“With those goals in mind, the government has enacted and deployed many socioeconomic development programmes, aiding businesses, particularly giving priority to female enterprises. Accordingly, diverse national target programmes such as the Sustainable Poverty Reduction Programme or the Socioeconomic Development Programme catered to ethnic minority and mountainous areas are all geared towards development investment for poor households and ethnic minority areas in which many policies are set to aid the development of women and girls.”
Vu Thi Quynh Anh-Deputy advisor Gender Responsive Equitable Agriculture and Tourism Program (GREAT)
There are four main obstacles that hinder the development of women-led startups in Vietnam's ethnic minority regions: geographical barrier, language and communication barriers, lack of technology and internet access, and gender bias, as women are still deemed unfit for leadership and business management in these cultures. In addition, the pandemic has caused considerable damage to these newly-founded businesses.
GREAT implemented two initiatives to support female entrepreneurs in business management skills and digital transformation. By providing training and technical support, GREAT was able to help more than 60 cooperatives generate revenues on e-commerce platforms. One-third of cooperatives participating in GREAT's Digital Accelerator Programme has experienced a revenue increase of 300-500 per cent compared to traditional sales channels.
Another way to support small-scale local cooperatives is to connect them with large corporations. In fact, 28 out of 65 GREAT's local partners are in some kind of partnership with industry leaders in agriculture, tourism, and training, with GREAT being the middle-man and co-investor. This model allows big corporations to leverage their technology and market knowledge to help small businesses improve, while also benefiting from the other party's high-quality product and human resources.
My Holland - Training vice-chair of the Women in Business Sector Committee EuroCham Vietnam
While building a gender action plan with priorities, we’re looking into the life cycle of employees to assess how to attract and retain talent, as well as how to recruit, train, and compensate them. At the organisational level, we can look into the corporate culture and leadership, as well as the policies, the reporting, and the communication.
Many organisations like Electricity of Vietnam and a few other companies have already gone through such programmes, followed by coaching programmes.
Aside from providing training and coaching, companies can pay nannies to help their employees stay on the job. Moreover, they can rotate leadership roles and foster an inclusive culture.
Le Quang Binh - Director at ECUE
Gender disparity in the workplace can be categorised into vertical and horizontal segregation. In the business context, the former term indicates the under- (or over-) representation of women in managing positions at corporates. The latter term, in contrast, refers to the under-or overrepresentation of women in different departments.
By sampling 30 of the leading enterprises in Vietnam and internationally, we recognised that efforts to foster gender equality in the corporate environment focus primarily on three aspects.
The first is to raise awareness and knowledge of employees about the essence of gender equality and its role in nurturing their firm’s growth. In addition, enterprises are reallocating financial and human resources with the aim of narrowing the gender gap. They should establish a department with the function of promoting and monitoring the practice of gender equality in order to widen its impact.
Finally, companies are prioritising introducing policies to create the best working conditions for women. These include having women represented at all levels of the organisation, establishing a code of conduct to combat gender discrimination, and designing female leadership development programmes along with supporting programmes to ensure their work-life balance.
Numerous enterprises are in need of support to encourage gender equality. There should be supporting units to provide comprehensive consultancy in building strategies to eliminate gender disparity in the workplace.
Enterprises should seek to gradually change gender stereotypes by encouraging corporate social responsibility activities, thereby creating a future workforce that is more gender-sensitive and inclusive.
By Oanh Nguyen