How Shopee benefits from the strengths of a diverse workforce

At Shopee, every employee is seen an individual with their own personal style and needs, which are accommodate as best as possible.
By: | April 25, 2019


In an exclusive Q&A, Lim Teck Yong, Head of Regional Operations and People Team at Shopee, explains how flexibility, diversity, and inclusion are a core part of the company’s talent management strategy.


What does ‘flexibility’ mean in Shopee?

In Shopee, ‘flexibility’ means working hand-in-hand with every employee to create a working environment that he or she is comfortable with, instead of taking a ‘one size fits all’ approach.

We recognise that every employee is an individual with their own personal style and needs, and we try to accommodate those needs as best as we can.

Our HR team, aptly named the ‘People team’, is committed to engaging with employees to ensure that they feel a sense of ownership and pride in their work and in the company.

For example, some of our working mothers have formed a group where they gather regularly to discuss about new policies for working mothers, such as flexible office hours and working remotely.

By being flexible and creating an exciting working environment, our employees are happier at the workplace and are empowered to drive greater productivity and efficiencies.

To stay updated on employees’ feedback and sentiments, we conduct monthly “Pulse Check” surveys to better understand their needs and plan programs and activities around them.

A consistent feedback loop is vital to understanding employees’ wellbeing and development, and resulting in a high level of employee satisfaction and productivity at Shopee.

By being flexible and creating an exciting working environment, our employees are happier at the workplace and are empowered to drive greater productivity and efficiencies.

How important are diversity and inclusivity?

Diversity and inclusion in Shopee are about creating a workplace environment where different voices are welcomed, encouraged, respected, and heard.

We believe that diversity in the workplace has evolved beyond ethnicity, gender, and disability, to include things such as generation, personality type, and life experiences.

Similarly, inclusion is an ongoing process that focuses on how we as employers can incorporate these elements into the organisations’ policies and workplace environment beyond merely accommodating them.

While countries in the region share the same religions, ethnicities, and beliefs due to geographical proximity, each still has its own cultures and economic development status which are vastly different and shape their people accordingly.

As a business with operations in seven different countries within Southeast Asia, it is our experience that having diversity and inclusion embraced by all our employees, from senior management to new hires, drives productivity, innovation, and growth in this globalised, hyper-connected, and multi-cultural society.

One example of how we incorporate this is through regular leadership trainings where participants are flown in from around the region and are grouped in levels to ensure that the topic is best catered to their respective leadership challenges.

This allows leaders to share their experiences in culturally diverse groups and be able to learn best practices from one another that can be applicable regardless of geographical locations.


What are some other ways that Shopee prioritises diversity & inclusivity?

“Having diversity and inclusion embraced by all our employees, from senior management to new hires, drives productivity, innovation, and growth.

At Shopee, we take a zero-tolerance approach towards discrimination, no matter its form. We believe that equality is the way forward, with the onus set on business leaders to set the tone at the workplace.

Diversity and inclusion are embedded into our culture, and every employee – from the highest levels of senior management down to our new hires – embraces it.

From the moment we hire, our recruiters and hiring managers do their best to offer every candidate a fair opportunity.

Every Shopee employee receive equal chances to grow and develop, and will have the same access to any internal opportunity.

Being part of the male-dominated tech industry, gender diversity is particularly important to us. Women form half the world’s population, yet according to the 2018 WEF Global Gender Gap Report, more than half (52%) of women still perceive technology as a male industry while almost a third (32%) believes gender bias is still a major hurdle in the recruitment process.

As AI and other technical IT skills grow in demand across industries both traditionally male and female-dominated, we cannot afford to miss out on much-needed diversity that can bring about a wider range of skills and approaches.

We do our best to help our female employees feel valued in the workplace by offering coaching and development programmes, with a view to progress them towards more senior or managerial roles.

Many of our key leadership positions are held by women leaders, including Dr Pan Yaozhang, who heads up our data science team.

A research scientist-turned-data scientist, Dr Pan brings a unique perspective to how Shopee utilises technology such as artificial intelligence and machine learning to provide solutions that improves and drives key business processes.

For an e-commerce platform like ourselves, having varied experiences across functionalities and teams enable us to ensure that our diverse customer base is proportionately represented, which helps us to better our services.

With data being the core of Shopee, it is imperative that our employees are data literate and have the necessary skills to effectively utilise large amounts of data.


Why is this approach important?

As a technology company, we place a strong emphasis on creativity, collaboration and innovation to drive our business forward.

As a result, we believe that diversity is not the end goal, but a means to create a better work environment. A recent McKinsey report backs that diversity is good for business, reporting that companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity were 35% more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians.

Women are an untapped resource especially in the tech industry, and we believe that more effort needs to be undertaken to ensure that they are proportionately represented in the workplace.

The first-ever HR Festival Asia, brought to you by the combined experience of HR Technology Conference & Exposition (US) and HR Summit (Asia) will delve deeper into how flexible, diverse, and inclusive organisations have the edge in this age of transformation. 

Learn more at the event’s dedicated Smart Workforce & Innovation stream. A roster of expert speakers, hailing from the region’s top organisations, will take to the stage to share the latest insights and case studies. 

For more information, visit