4 April 2024 | Featured Story

Business Coalitions reflect on state of WGE in Southeast Asia

To celebrate International Women’s Day, the Indonesia Business Coalition for Women Empowerment (IBCWE), Philippine Business Coalition for Women Empowerment (PBCWE), and Business Coalition for Gender Equality, Myanmar (BGCE) hosted a webinar on “The State of WGE in the Region” on 13 March 2024, with support from Investing in Women (IW). Featuring diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) champions from leading organisations in Indonesia, Myanmar, and the Philippines, the event shared best practices and challenges in assessing and implementing gender-equal workplace policies.

Insights were drawn from analysis of Gender Equality Assessment, Results, and Strategies (GEARS) data from the business coalitions’ member companies. GEARS is the first workplace gender equality (WGE) assessment tool designed specifically for the ASEAN market.

The results of GEARS assessments conducted over the last three years show firms in Indonesia, the Philippines and Myanmar prioritise strong talent development policies that are likely to attract and retain staff in a competitive business landscape. Results also show a strong strategic alignment of gender equality and business priorities in company policies. Policy alignment contributes to a positive workplace culture, drives performance, and mitigates reputational risk, and can lead to long-term business success and sustained growth.

Opportunities to further progress WGE in the private sector were also identified. In particular, this included transitioning WGE training from a one-off event to a core business practice, institutionalised in employee onboarding or professional development programs. Gender pay equity was identified as another area for improvement. Limited transparency on pay practices and absence of related labour laws and regulations create risks of unchecked discriminatory practices. The panel suggested this could be addressed by implementing regular pay audits, company policies on inclusive pay practices, trainings on unconscious bias, and fostering a culture of diversity and inclusion.


The State of WGE in Southeast Asia online event featured diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) champions from leading organisations in Indonesia, Myanmar, and the Philippines.

The State of WGE in Southeast Asia online event featured DEI champions from leading organisations in Indonesia, Myanmar, and the Philippines.


IW Workplace Gender Equality Director Maya Juwita moderated a panel discussion on the WGE journey of Indonesia Stock Exchange (IDX), DDB Philippines and AYA Bank PCL (Myanmar).

For Anna Chua Norbert, Chief Culture Officer of DDB Group and Managing Director of DDB Philippines and B&B, DEI makes business sense: employing people with a wide range of backgrounds fosters more creative ideas. “[WGE] is not a passive act. It requires commitment and conscious effort, that’s why we constantly partner with PBCWE,” she said. DDB Philippines garnered near perfect scores in their GEARS assessment but have been working to improve their hiring practices so that men are adequately represented in their predominantly female workforce.

“As a regulator, before we go out and advocate for WGE-related policies to our stakeholders, we must look ourselves in the mirror. GEARS tells us about the gaps that we need to improve and the areas we are good at,” said Risa Effennita Rustam, Director of Finance, Human Resources and General Affairs of IDX. IDX has completed two GEARS assessments with IBCWE and has made significant strides in improving all focus areas, including gender pay equity, talent management and succession planning, and WGE training.

“We have received a lot of engagement from leadership, as well as employees’ change in behaviour and attitude towards gender equality. This motivates us to improve further in the next assessment,” noted Paul Nyan Mint Soe, Director of the People Department at AYA Bank PCL, which has undergone both global and regional WGE assessments with BGCE.

GEARS offers a valuable resource for businesses seeking to gain insights into  their current WGE strategies. By identifying gaps, opportunities, and strengths, companies can be empowered to make informed decisions and take action towards achieving their WGE goals. For further information on GEARS, visit https://investinginwomen.asia/gears/.

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