Schneider Electric, the global leader in the digital transformation of energy management and automation, has for the third year in a row been ranked in the top 325 companies in the Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index (GEI). To celebrate this recognition, Astri Ramayanti Dharmawan, Country General Manager of Schneider Electric Malaysia & Brunei shared on how she believes that diversity and inclusion provide the necessary ingredients for a successful workplace in an increasingly competitive and complex world.
At Schneider Electric Malaysia, I stepped up to prove that women can lead the male-dominated industry too. I want to continue creating an inclusive culture where all forms of diversity are seen as a real value for the company. Our commitment is to continue providing equal opportunities to our employees at Schneider Electric to ensure that all our employees feel uniquely valued. When I first started my career in Indonesia 23 years ago, I learned that my engineering background only wasn’t enough to move forward. I needed to combine technical skills and business skills to address a customer’s problems. I needed to look outward and get more ideas to serve my customers better. For me as a woman, I also learned how to continue delivering success and moved forward in male-dominated industries. Leave the boundaries behind, dare to disrupt and finding a diversity of thought from different people are always on my agenda.
We embrace all backgrounds and experiences with high-performance expectations in all that we do. We empower women with more leadership responsibilities and reduce the limitations on the types of jobs that women can have. Today, the Malaysia leadership team is made up of 44% women representatives compared to 11%, 5 years ago. While focusing on diversity remains critical for us, diversity is meaningless without an inclusive culture in the workplace.
Embracing Diversity & Inclusion in the Workplace to Drive Innovation
At Schneider Electric, diversity is an integral part of our history, culture, & identity; and inclusion is the way we treat and perceive all differences. I encourage my team to always embrace diversity to the fullest, which includes having a diverse workforce. We engage with top universities in Malaysia to attract their top talent and involve the students in our program/seminar and share our innovation.
I am very passionate about respecting diverse ideas from diverse talent with different backgrounds and experiences. I leverage the innovative approach to coaching and mentoring, which includes peer-to-peer mentoring and reverse mentoring from young talent. By having reverse mentoring, I can get critical insight and knowledge exchange from my employee and at the same time, I can coach them to unleash their potential to have a bigger impact on the organization.
We also adopted the Catalyst Program, a unique talent development program initiated by our zone. Every individual is given the opportunity to put forward their name instead of nominations from their managers. Owing to the spirit of Diversity & Inclusion, participants are selected following an array of fact-based assessments to uncover potentials. Subsequently, the selected participants across all functions will come together to form teams to tackle an existing business dilemma in which the outcome is then tested and implemented. Ultimately in this program, we remove potential biases in the process while discovering hidden talents beneficial to the company.
Diversity and Inclusion is Essential
Throughout my experience at Schneider Electric, I’ve discovered that organizational performance is strengthened when there are proactive diversity and inclusion management strategies. It is everyone’s responsibility to play a part in creating the diversity of people and an environment of inclusion in order to generate greater engagement, performance, and innovation.
Collectively, we still have some distance to go with gender equality but I am happy that Schneider Electric and the entire industry are taking steps towards embracing Diversity and Inclusion. We will face challenges along the way, but I believe everyone will eventually be on board the journey. We recognize the ever-changing dynamics between family, life and work and strongly believe in empowering our employees in integrating work and life well. Efforts such as Flexibility@Work policy and Global Family Leave Plan at Schneider are mechanisms introduced in line with the strategy which leads to higher performance and greater engagements. Our inclusive culture at Schneider deserves thanks in part to a digitized workflow and processes enabling great flexibility and efficiency.
Sustainability Effort as the Key Driver for Women
A report in 2018 titled, ‘USAID Green Invest Asia’ found that Southeast Asian women champion sustainability, with 85% wanting to invest in responsible companies that think about their environmental and social impact. Women strive for genuine sustainable efforts and look for companies that align their corporate policies to reflect this value and inclusive culture.
I personally have a higher interest when it comes to any efforts that are related to sustainability. Knowing that sustainability sits at the core of Schneider Electric’s business, gives me the assurance that I am at the right place where I can achieve my personal goals while providing my professional viewpoints at the same time. As this goes, I believe that Schneider Electric will be able to attract more female employees who aspire to work to create a better and more sustainable tomorrow.
I am driven by the purpose of always delivering only the best and I believe passion allows me to do great things. As a leader, I aspire for my team to bring out the best in them, to respect, care about each other, and to not underestimate anyone’s capabilities, be it, men or women. As Sheryl Sandberg once said, “In the future, there will be no female leaders. There will just be leaders.”
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About the Author
Astri Ramayanti Dharmawan is the Country General Manager of Schneider Electric, who is responsible to support the company’s growth both in Malaysia and Brunei. Astri is leading the team to oversee all strategic initiatives and operational efficiency in Schneider Malaysia & Brunei. She is also driving forth Schneider Electric’s commitment to Innovation, Diversity, and Sustainability. She firmly believes that the company’s achievements in driving diversity and inclusion through equal opportunities to its employees and staff are a key attribute in driving innovation and high performance in the company. Astri is not only looking to lead the business in Malaysia but to strengthen the company’s footprint as a global leader in energy management and automation. Together with her team, the 23-year veteran aims to continue driving innovation for her customers and partners that are focused around safety, reliability, efficiency, sustainability, and connectivity.