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New Straits Times (Malaysia): Creating a work-life balance

Creating a work-life balance
 Apr 09, 2006

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ASK a roomful of schoolchildren the gender of an engineer and the likely popular answer would be “a man” – such is the job stereotype that men and women have that still prevails today.

The Shell Group recently launched a global campaign to address this, while increasing the number of women in the workforce.

Dubbed the Female Attraction Recruitment Drive, the campaign aims to increase opportunities for women at all levels of the workforce, from senior management to technical staff.

About 24 per cent of Shell's employees worldwide are female, of which almost 10 per cent are in senior positions. Of these women in senior positions, more than 40 per cent have technical or core business jobs.

In Malaysia, 35 per cent of the workforce are female, of which 20 per cent hold technical or core business jobs.

Shell Malaysia human resource director Johnathan Kohn explains that the company has made significant commitment to recruit, develop and progress women in its business.

The recent launch of the recruitment drive is symbolic of the company's wish to continue promoting gender equality and it has also made considerable effort to understand and respond to the needs of the female workforce.

While boosting its own numbers, it also serves the government's aim of increasing the number of women in the workforce.

Shell also recently surveyed 12,000 students and young professionals in 12 markets around the globe to gain a better understanding of the factors that candidates consider important when making decisions about their prospective careers. The study found that although there are many similarities in what male and female candidates look for in a potential employer, there are still many significant differences. In particular, 41 per cent of female respondents, as compared with only 30 per cent of males, said that their most important career goal was to achieve balance between their personal life and career. Fifty-four per cent of female respondents think it important that their employer works actively with equality against only 33 per cent of males. Fifty-five per cent of women also consider it important to work with inspiring colleagues who treat them with respect against only 45 per cent of men. When it comes to remuneration, the study shows that even at the beginning of their careers, women consider a potential employer's ability to provide childcare, parental leave and healthcare benefits as important factors in their decision making process, whereas male respondents were more likely to consider performance-related bonuses, company cars and profit sharing to be important factors.

Addressing these issues, the Shell Group believes that increasing the effectiveness of partnerships between men and women through better awareness of gender differences, different leadership styles and work patterns is core to its continued success.

It recently also launched a website which aims to demonstrate the group's commitment in tackling some of the most oft-cited barriers to women's achieving their full potential in their careers.

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