Better gender policies for sustainable human resources

December 09, 2022 | 14:37
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Promoting gender equality, diversity, and inclusion in the workplace is receiving increased attention from many countries around the world and Vietnam is no exception.

Respecting gender equality and diversity can be understood as expanding opportunities for women and other disadvantaged groups, empowering them to access resources such as land, capital, education, and health, as well as improving the voice of women in the political system.

Better gender policies for sustainable human resources
Better gender policies for sustainable human resources

At the level of organisations and corporations, equality and diversity will lead to more effective management and leadership, helping the company better understand the needs of customers and thereby help profit growth. The participation of more members in the leadership team will help the company better control risks and ensure financial stability.

From a political perspective, promoting gender equality and diversity will support economic development and achieve other social goals such as poverty reduction and hunger eradication and environmental protection. However, in order to create an equal environment and respect for diversity in businesses, it is most important to identify the causes of gender inequality.

Some studies have shown that gender inequality often occurs at the input stage. Men often have an advantage over women when they have more access to education. Long-standing prejudices are also the reason why men tend to choose stereotypically masculine jobs such as engineering, science, construction, and architecture while women are more inclined towards office jobs or care work.

The majority of female employees in enterprises often focus on supporting departments such as human resources, admin, or general office work, while men will focus on technical, sales, and management departments.

Gender stereotypes exist not only in Vietnam, but also in many countries. It comes from the belief that women have qualities and personalities that are suitable for care work. This is fundamentally wrong because skills and qualities, regardless of gender, are derived from the learning process, not naturally born.

The proportion of men in senior leadership positions is still much higher than that of women, and this is quite common even in developed countries. Inequality is also reflected in the salary relationship between men and women in an organisation, even though they have the same capacity and perform the same job. According to Country Gender Equality Profile Vietnam 2021, the average salary of women is 13.7 per cent lower than that of male peers.

Studies almost unanimously agree that these values and choices are not simply derived from the natural and biological conditions of the body, but are created by social factors. They will prefer stable jobs and a friendly environment, while men are easily attracted to positions with high competitiveness.

To solve these problems, businesses in Vietnam are taking a number of different approaches. Domestic enterprises will approach in the direction of fostering and compensating, which means that women will be supported to improve their missing capacity to participate equally in the world of work through special training courses. However, this approach also has limitations as it considers women as the source of the problem and needs to be corrected, with only some women benefiting.

In contrast to domestic enterprises, international enterprises operating in Vietnam often approach the diversity and inclusion framework, in which gender inequality is only one aspect of other inequalities, such as ethnicity, age, and body status. This approach helps international businesses focus on developing diversity and inclusion policies, building the capacity of managers on prejudice, discrimination, and ways to combat prejudice in recruitment or job evaluation.

During our operations, we see that successful international businesses like Schneider Electric or ANZ bank are often interested in promoting gender equality, diversity, and inclusion because they have the resources. The investment in building a diverse working environment also helps them improve the quality of human resources, business culture, and sustainable financial benefits.

Meanwhile, few Vietnamese enterprises apply gender policies because building an equal environment without stigma and discrimination is not yet their priority.

Either way, the most important thing when approaching the topic is to build a management team that wants to promote it. Instead of seeing it as a mandatory top-down requirement, the company should encourage it by getting management to truly believe in diversity and equality, participate in activities that promote these values, and make them feel understood, connected, and empathised with the disadvantaged. Businesses also need to be transparent in recruitment activities to expand and diversify candidates.

It can be seen that building a diverse and equal ecosystem, although bringing many positive impacts in sustainable human resource development, is not easy. The success depends heavily on the strategy, approach of each business, and support from stakeholders.

The government needs to create a policy and legal framework to promote gender equality; social organisations, researchers, and press agencies should promote communication and knowledge sharing; and businesses also need to be more drastic to create an equal environment in the workplace.

Pham Quoc Loc - Executive vice president, Thai Binh Duong University and Le Quang Binh - Director, ECUE Vietnam
Pham Quoc Loc - Executive vice president (left) and Thai Binh Duong University and Le Quang Binh - Director, ECUE Vietnam
Developing human resources to adapt to new normal

By Quoc Loc and Quang Binh

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