#IWD2023: Ensuring equity and respect for all employees

Shylaja Bhat, Director HR Business Partner – Platform Foundation, HERE Technologies, discusses her strategies in prioritising equity and respect.
By: | March 7, 2023

As the countdown to International Women’s Day 2023 continues, HRM Asia is celebrating the inspirational women who have broken barriers and achieved incredible success in the workplace. In our special IWD 2023 coverage, we spoke to women leaders who shared their thoughts and advice on how women can succeed in the workplace, and the role they can play towards creating a more equitable and inclusive world for everyone.

In this exclusive IWD feature, HRM Asia speaks with Shylaja Bhat, Director HR Business Partner – Platform Foundation, HERE Technologies, as she discusses the challenges and opportunities for women in the workplace, and her advice for aspiring female leaders.

Tell us a bit about yourself and your responsibilities at HERE Technologies

I have been with HERE for the last 11 years, currently serving as Global Human Resources Director for Platform Foundation, a large business group of about 4,000 and more employees worldwide that focuses on big data software development with spatial analytics and expertise in curation of our databases. My role includes strategic business partnering with executive leaders, working actively across areas of workforce planning, enhancing leadership depth, talent programmes, skills training, location strategy, and more.

How has HERE embraced gender equality and address challenges faced by female employees?

Our endeavour is to take a systemic and multi-pronged approach in addressing equity at various employee lifecycle stages, for instance, educating managers on conscious and unconscious bias during hiring, onboarding, performance, development, and more. We regularly analyse our rating and pay decisions/planning for gender/other bias, encourage leaders to be active sponsors and allies for underrepresented talent and to create mentoring connections for high performing female talent. These are various ways to support female talent who may have less of these organic networks. We also have Employee Resource Groups such as Women’s Initiatives Network that allows female employees to come together to drive inclusion, diversity, and belonging (IDB) agenda.

How can technology play a role in creating equal opportunities for women in the workplace?

We have a platform called Team Up, which allows employees to put their skills to use outside their regular work. This provides equal access to projects and opportunities along with mentoring assignments both as a mentor and a mentee. We also have the HERE Learning Campus, our learning and development technology platform that provides equal accessibility to all employees to invest in their own self-curated learning.

What inspires you to support and empower women to take up leadership roles?

A clean intent when coupled with genuine efforts is a perfect recipe for success. It is the input that defines the output. If we want good results in any sphere of life, we need to focus on the input. Our own success is defined by the quality of our efforts in building ourselves holistically, staying relevant with changing times, and keeping our brain’s grey cells active. In my role, I actively nudge leaders, including female leaders, to engage in activities that support and empower women and be aware of unconscious bias. In networking platforms, I similarly encourage women to continue investing in themselves and maximise opportunities that come their way.

With #EmbraceEquity being the theme of IWD this year, what is your message to organisations when it comes to creating inclusive work cultures?

Building an inclusive work culture should not be an initiative or a one-time effort. It should be part of an organisation’s DNA. Diversity of thought and valuing all individual’s opinions are fundamental blocks of an inclusive culture. Treating everyone as Beings at work beyond labels allows us to embrace equity and inclusion. 

International Women’s Day Features:

Empower all individuals to embrace equity – Gillian Tan, COO, Jebsen & Jessen Packaging

Creating a gender-inclusive workplace – Lee Minjoo, Head of Marketing, Deliveroo Singapore

Inclusion should be a mindset for everyone – Evelyn Tay, VP of Comms, Sustainability and Public Affairs, foodpanda

Uncovering bias the first step for inclusive workplaces – Alyssa Wang, Human Resources Director, Asia-Pacific, ADM

Technology holds the key to achieving gender equityAisha Islam, Senior Vice President and Head of Customer Solutions Centre, Mastercard

Embracing equity and equality as cultural cornerstones – Patsy Ng, Vice President for Human Resources – Asia-Pacific, Hilton

Achieve gender equity by acknowledging the roles women play – Koh Yan Ping, CEO, Singapore Council of Women’s Organisations (SCWO)