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How tech companies are retaining female talent in Asia Pacific (Part 1)

Nurdianah Md Nur
Nurdianah Md Nur • 7 min read
How tech companies are retaining female talent in Asia Pacific (Part 1)
Besides hiring more women, an effective strategy to retain female talent is crucial to address the gender imbalance in the tech industry. Photo: Pexels
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Achieving gender equity in the IT sector requires more than hiring more females. Tech firms must also provide a supportive environment for women to thrive and have a fulfilling work experience to retain women in the industry.

This is why establishing an open dialogue with employees is vital. Clar Rosso, CEO of the cybersecurity professional association ISC2, says: “Leaders need to listen and talk to the talented women in their workforce to learn what’s important to them, what they want to achieve, and what they see holding them back.”

She adds: “Organisations that support women in defining goals and creating pathways to achieve those goals will be more successful in developing female leaders and increasing their ranks at senior levels than those organisations that do not. In addition to individualised plans, organisations should ensure inclusive, equitable systemic policies and practices around flexible work, pay equity, and hiring and advancement.”

Since there is no one-size-fits-all solution to closing the gender gap, here’s what tech companies are doing to retain female talents in Singapore and Asia Pacific.

Remus Lim, VP of Asia Pacific and Japan, Cloudera

Working professionals are often concerned with their pathway to success and want the confidence of being set up for success as they take on elevated roles. Cloudera has long established this kind of environment where individuals feel ready and supported as they progress upwards, and we did so by implementing two targeted initiatives.

See also: What does it mean for every company to be an AI company?

Firstly, we ensure our employees have the resources required to advance their careers. Our human resources team works closely with them to provide the necessary support and tools that can help chart their progress and strengthen their competency to take on leadership roles.

Secondly, we have implemented a mentorship programme to connect women executives with successful women leaders. Coaching programmes and networking sessions inspire and create confidence for them to progress to the next role. Recently, Cloudera promoted several women leaders in the region, including positions such as country leaders for Singapore and Indonesia.

Most importantly, we found that being open and listening to what our employees need to take the step forward has been crucial. By collecting feedback, we draw insights on how we can support them better, taking a leaf from how we help our customers do better with data.

See also: Achieving true digital transformation: It’s not the tools, it’s the people

Bee Kheng Tay, president for Asean, Cisco

Cisco creates opportunities for women by developing leaders at all levels to foster diversity, inclusion, and connection within our Conscious Culture. We believe that with the right inclusive environment and culture rooted in trust, transparency, and open communication, every woman can lead.

We have two programmes that aim to help develop and retain female leaders. The first is Jump, a global Women’s Leaderships programme for mid-level women that focuses on developing world-class leaders to close the gender gap and retain talent. Meanwhile, DARE supports early-career women with exercises, activities, and tools to articulate their value, build support networks, empower each other, and plan bold career paths.

We encourage leaders at all levels to sponsor employees with diverse backgrounds through The Multiplier Effect programme and facilitate one-on-one dialogues about lived experiences through The Proximity Initiative. Additionally, our Employee Resource Group, Women of Cisco, connects over 5,000 global employees through networking, mentorship, and career development resources.

Wynthia Goh, senior partner and global co-lead at NEXT, NCS

The gender disparity in the tech industry is a continuing challenge. One of the findings in a study conducted by Singapore Nanyang Technological University in 2022 highlighted the importance of a sense of belonging where women in Singapore left their careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics as they did not feel like they belonged.

At NCS, we understand the importance of cultivating this sense of belonging to have a fulfilling career through our tailored initiatives such as BIG-ID that encourage our people to think big and create strong identities for themselves. We recognise the diversity among our women leaders as professionals and individuals, and that diversity gives us a competitive advantage.

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We provide them with multiple career tracks, opportunities to grow and gain mastery in different areas of technology and pathways for career progression. They are also supported by our NCS Mentors programme which empowers them to seek out senior leader mentors.

Sheena Chin, regional director for Asean, Rubrik

To advance female representation in cybersecurity roles, companies must actively address systemic biases and continue to invest in women for an inclusive workplace that fosters female leadership. This commitment must be driven from the top down — while setting company-wide goals is an important step, it is crucial to work with teams to clearly define their share of responsibility to drive progress.

For example, Rubrik emphasises the importance of connecting with peers, and Women at Rubrik (W@R) is an employee resource group (ERG) where we champion inclusivity through mentorship programmes and engaging dialogues. As leaders within W@R, we also contribute significantly to Rubrik’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) council, collaborating with peers from other ERGs to weave DEI principles and intersectionality into our organisational fabric.

By cultivating inclusive workplaces that support women’s ascent to leadership positions, we not only contribute to building a more equitable and accessible cybersecurity industry but also address the industry-wide challenge of talent shortage.

Serine Loh, head of culture and talent for Apac, Qlik

We remain committed to inclusivity in talent development and hiring for leadership positions across all the markets in which we operate, including Asia. To achieve this, we have development and mentorship programmes that pair women with senior leaders who can provide guidance, support, and advocacy.

Our Qlik Women in Technology (WIT) programme supports women’s leadership networks for women to connect, share experiences, and support each other with mentorship opportunities. We also provide opportunities for skill-building, stretch assignments, and exposure to senior leaders to nurture women for leadership roles.

Qlik’s flexible work arrangements accommodate working mothers and caregivers, and our policy on pay and promotion is fair and transparent based on performance, skills, and experience. We also collect data on gender representation at all levels of our organisation and have implemented policies and practices to address gender pay gaps and biases in the promotion process, further driving inclusivity and gender equity at Qlik.

Koren Wines, managing director for Asia, Xero

Gender diversity is a priority at Xero. We have implemented numerous programmes to get more women into the tech sector and leadership roles at Xero.

Initiatives like providing equal access to benefits, such as paid parental leave regardless of gender, have far-reaching knock-on effects throughout our organisation and communities. They remove gender bias around awarding roles and model both parents as primary caregivers to young children, thereby changing gender role perceptions for future generations.

Women of Xero and the TechSisters Employee Resource Group are two additional examples of broader programmes designed to foster connections between women at Xero, provide women with upskilling support and tackle gender equality head-on.

I’m also incredibly fortunate to be surrounded by inspiring women leaders at Xero. Our CEO Sukhinder Singh Cassidy leads the executive team, of which women make up the majority, and the same goes for my leadership team in our Asia business. This representation extends through our business globally across our Board of Directors, executive team and senior regional leadership.

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