Gender parity in the work place is a widely discussed topic contemporarily, with much conversation brewing on the ‘glass ceiling’ and ‘shortage of women at work and leadership’.
Sharing her views on this often talked about topic, AIA Director Human Resources Chathuri Munaweera noted, “Women leaders are present everywhere, whether it be leading large scale Fortune 500 organisations or being a loving wife, caring daughter, supportive sister, or a mother in guiding and protecting the family circle.”
“Yet, according to 2016 statistics from the Sri Lanka Labour Force, 74.7% of Sri Lanka’s economically inactive population are women! This is quite disturbing as it indicates very low female participation in the workplace. This was an organisational responsibility we identified quite a few years back and made best endeavours to create a conducive work environment at AIA, for women to join, stay and grow as a very important part of our workforce whether as employees or as our Wealth Planners,” she added.
She further noted, “Today a significant percentage of AIA’s employees are females and in fact we are proud to say that most of our female Wealth Planners have gone on to achieve the highest international recognition available to insurance professionals for their exceptional performance. Some of our first initiatives were to ‘fix the base issues’ for our employees and create more and more flexible career opportunities for our female Wealth Planners. Today our employee policies proactively allow solutions for female employees not to drop out of work due to ‘life’s challenges’, be it pregnancy, motherhood or even taking time off to study. For example, our motherhood support policies allow many flexible work options, leave and re-entry. AIA must be one of the few companies that allow maternity leave whether your child comes to you biologically or through adoption. AIA mothers spend five months at home with their new born before returning to work after child birth. As a result of these collective initiatives, AIA’s female employee force has now grown to represent 35%.”
“AIA’s next phase is about developing our talent pool of women to become tomorrow’s leaders. ‘Ignite – Empowering You’ is a program series that enables our female staff to excel at what they do and reach positions of leadership at all levels, so they can achieve career growth and development, balancing ‘home’ and ‘career’. AIA as an organisation will walk the talk with diversity at its core and have a healthy balance of female power with our next generation of leaders, now beginning to take leadership positions across the company at different levels, whether internally promoted or externally recruited.”