Women empowerment a key pillar for Nestlé Vietnam

March 14, 2022 | 15:18
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Nestlé Vietnam has been one of the strongest advocates of gender equality in Vietnam over the past 25 years. HR director Truong Bich Dao explained to VIR’s Olive Bui the journey to build a gender-inclusive workplace as well as contribute to women’s empowerment in community.
Women empowerment a key pillar for Nestlé Vietnam
HR director Truong Bich Dao

As a female member of the board, how has the gender-inclusive working culture supported the company?

Nestlé Vietnam always pays attention to the leadership potential of employees, especially female ones. Thus, we can nurture and give them the opportunity to shine and advance in our company.

Last year was a special one for Nestlé Vietnam with several recognitions, such as Best Place to Work in Vietnam and Most Sustainable Enterprise in Vietnam. Nestlé Vietnam has also been honoured as a typical enterprise with a commitment to gender equality in the workplace by Vietnam Business Coalition for Women’s Empowerment.

To be selected as the most sustainable enterprise in Vietnam, we not only meet the evaluation criteria on business results, but also make a contribution to social development and environmental protection. The recognition is also attributed to Nestlé Vietnam’s equal working environment based on respect for differences and women’s empowerment in the workplace.

Specifically, the percentage of women holding senior management and leadership positions has continuously increased year by year. Women have surpassed the number of male colleagues on the board of directors with 55 per cent of its members being female. Women held approximately 50 per cent of management positions at other levels.

Furthermore, Nestlé Vietnam has incorporated principles of women’s empowerment throughout our value chain. We have made progress in empowering Vietnamese women through the NESCAFÉ Plan sustainable coffee development project.

Thanks to those efforts, Nestlé Vietnam was honoured with the Women’s Empowerment Principles Awards in the categories of Community and Industry Engagement and Gender-Inclusive Workplace in 2020, granted by UN Women.

How does Nestlé Vietnam help female employees achieve a work/life balance?

Nestlé has created a healthy and sustainable working environment where everyone can cooperate and support each other. Thus, employees can always receive the care and assistance that they need. Managers at all levels also care about their employees. We listen to comprehend their needs both physically and mentally, especially female employees.

In addition to the maternity leave as prescribed by the government, Nestlé has a lactation room at the worksite to create favourable conditions for nursing mothers. The company also adopts a flexible working schedule for female employees with young children or pregnant women. We also have a parental support policy with a childcare leave regime to encourage male employees to take time off and help their wives take care of newborn babies.

What are some of the barriers to building a gender-balanced or diverse workforce?

We believe that a workplace that values diversity and differences, particularly gender differences, would enable us to build on our strengths and make better business decisions, foster innovative activities, and increase employee satisfaction.

Nevertheless, we also face some challenges in creating any real change. One of the challenges is overcoming gender bias. To facilitate the goal, we have implemented the Gender Balance Acceleration Plan through specific human resource activities to increase the proportion of women in senior management positions. This plan has paid off with certain results.

The changes are observed in the manufacturing sector, which is mainly dominated by male employees. We set a goal of recruiting and training more female employees in the manufacturing sector this year than in previous years.

We also have an orientation and support programme in place to help employees, particularly female employees with high potential, develop into successful leaders. This programme is open to employees in all our departments and divisions.

What are Nestlé Vietnam’s upcoming initiatives?

We will focus on a long-term human resource development plan as well as fostering a workplace that values employees’ abilities, particularly those of women. We also promote the principles of women’s empowerment across our value chain.

The NESCAFÉ Plan is one of the best examples of our contributions to gender equality and women empowerment throughout Nestlé’s value chain. Through the training of female team leaders among coffee farmers, this programme has helped to improve the role and status of women. As a result, more than 80 per cent of women have participated in investment and production activities, as well as managing household financial reporting.

Since 2020, Nestlé has tied up with the Vietnam Women’s Union to undertake the Nestlé Accompanies Women programme. With activities on nutrition communication as well as building a model for the economic empowerment of women, after just over a year of implementation, the programme has attracted 4,000 members in 700 communes in 10 cities and provinces, creating a positive impact on many women’s lives in the programme areas.

We hope that our promises and efforts over recent times will be shared throughout the corporate community, contributing to supporting gender equality and women’s empowerment in Vietnam.

By Olive Bui

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