FIEs upholding equality in workplace

April 27, 2022 | 14:58
Approaching and solving gender issues on the basis of respect for diversity and difference is a strategy being pursued by many foreign-invested enterprises in Vietnam in order to establish an equal working environment with inclusive benefits for all staff.
FIEs upholding equality in workplace
At some companies, women are given priority for suitable roles, Photo: Shutterstock

For 27 years, Unilever has continuously spread the mission of sustainable development to millions of consumers as well as employees at the company. The brand’s popular working environments in Vietnam have been achieved through a commitment to promote the development of each individual on the basis of respect for diversity and inclusion, of which gender equality activities are a part.

Trinh Mai Phuong, Unilever Vietnam’s vice president of human resources, explained that Unilever constantly promotes a diverse, inclusive, and equal working environment, helping women to unleash their capacity and prove their positions.

The percentage of female managers and supervisors at Unilever Vietnam has reached 53 per cent. In addition, the levels of director and above in the Customer Development Department and the percentage of female factory managers in the supply chains have all reached 50 per cent.

Unilever Vietnam also integrates community programmes, marketing, and advertising activities in this regard. In 2021, a programme on Vietnamese women confidently doing business sponsored by Unilever Vietnam attracted nearly 45,000 women to participate in online and face-to-face training courses, inspiring many women in business.

Pham Thanh Van, head of the Trade Union for Nissan Vietnam, a fully Japanese-invested automobile manufacturer with 20 years of experience in Vietnam, shared that employees there always have to work in a noisy environment that has the potential for occupational accidents, so the company focuses on gender equality and arranges jobs according to gender.

“Female workers will be given priority to carry out lighter jobs to ensure their health,” Van said. “Every year, all workers are periodically checked for health, and remote workers are also supported with rent and gasoline expenses.”

Nissan Vietnam also takes care of female workers while raising small children by providing a breastfeeding room and equipping machines to store breastmilk.

More foreign-invested enterprises (FIEs) and overseas business associations in Vietnam are interested in implementing equality in the workplace in association with building a diverse and inclusive culture.

Participating in awards via the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry, or the Women’s Empowerment Principles from UN Women, is also an opportunity for businesses to get closer to international standards on gender equality, aiming to build an equal working environment.

Leaders of various chambers of commerce in Vietnam last month, including from the United States and Europe, agreed to sign a commitment to participate in Panel Pledge Vietnam, which aims to strengthen women’s voices in the workplace and society. Panel Pledge originated in Australia as an important step towards achieving the goal of promoting gender equality.

With their commitment, the five business associations will actively increase the participation of female speakers at events, seminars, conferences, or public forums. They will also be committed to working with event organisers about speaker composition, including recommending female or male speakers where appropriate and helping create a positive mindset about women’s participation in all agendas.

Ha Thu Thanh, chair of the Vietnam Business Coalition for Women Empowerment and also chairperson of Deloitte Vietnam, said there are six criteria to evaluate the equal working environment of an enterprise: gender diversity policy on company boards; ensuring fairness in salary and bonus; gender equality in recruitment and promotion; training, developing and promoting programmes for female employees; and policies to support female workers and, ultimately, a safe and respectful working environment.

“Creating a fair working environment is an important foundation for businesses to secure a workforce, improve productivity, and contribute to building a more reliable brand,” Thanh said.

According to a recent study by Deloitte Vietnam, women who work in an equal environment with a diverse and inclusive culture are twice as likely to exceed financial targets, three times more likely to increase their productivity, and six times more likely to be innovative and agile, and help the business to achieve business growth eight times higher than their counterparts.

Thanh added that building an equal working environment is not only a story to ensure long-term labour resources, but is also a solution to help businesses strengthen their ability to combat the crisis in the new period. “This makes more sense in the context that more and more businesses in Vietnam promote this policy as a business mission and turn it into an action goal, not just a strategy,” Thanh said.

By Hoang Oanh

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