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Interview: GAR’s collaboration with Indonesia Business Coalition for Women Empowerment (IBCWE)

Posted: Dec 08, 2021 3 minute read Melissa Yeoh 597 views

Gender equality in agriculture has been a trending topic in recent years. As an industry leader in the responsible production of palm oil, Golden Agri-Resources (GAR) wants to be a responsible employer too. GAR employs more than 100,000 people in Indonesia including 30,000 women. Actively working toward gender equality in the workplace, one would argue is essential to our social license to operate. However, this is a responsibility that I am proud to say GAR does not take lightly.

In 2018, GAR’s commitment to gender inclusivity led us to collaborate and partner with organisations such as IBCWE. IBCWE’s mission is to support and optimise businesses’ role in enhancing women’s economic empowerment and gender equality.

I was honoured to have a chat with Ibu Maya Juwita, the CEO of IBCWE as she shared her insights about GAR’s progress in gender issues. 

Why is it important to invest in women in the company?
Investing in facilities and amenities for women in the workplace ensures that female employees especially new mothers return easily to work. The investment enables female employees to have a level playing field with their male colleagues—this ultimately contributes to the local economy too.

What are IBCWE and GAR working on?
We and PROSPERA (Australia-Indonesia Partnership for Economic Development) collaborated with GAR to conduct a study on its childcare centres—on whether or not they are safe, affordable, and of good quality.

The results were very positive! It showed that employees in your estates valued the early childcare facilities provided, childcare meets family needs and parents trust their caregivers. The study also highlighted areas of potential improvement for the company to look into including upgrades to buildings, improved education curriculum and learning materials. This will help provide a safer and more enriching environment.

One of GAR’s BPAs.
Happy children playing with colourful blocks in one of GAR’s childcare centres.

What are some of the areas GAR can work on to create stronger workplace resilience and productivity?
I encouraged GAR to also look into female employees who are working in the cities and/or working from home that are trying to balance work and family. I believe some are struggling to create a work-life balance with the new normal way of working.

It is especially critical now for companies to focus on self-care and mental health programmes for all employees. For example, employees should have access to group therapies, mindfulness activities, and counselling sessions, particularly for new mothers.

GAR’s female employees working at the plantation.
Women fertilising crops on the plantation.

These are some areas of opportunities for GAR to move further:

  • Regularly communicate its anti-harassment policies and educate its employees in culturally sensitive areas
  • Develop family-friendly policies that support employee wellbeing and deliver productivity gains. These policies would need to fit the nature and location of the work

I believe GAR’s leadership is moving in the right direction to achieve gender equality in the workplace. It is encouraging to see the company’s commitment to be better.

To find out more about IBCWE and how they support gender equality in the workplace, please click here.

Read more about how GAR champions human and labour rights here.
 

About Maya Juwita:
Maya Juwita is the Executive Director of the Indonesia Business Coalition for Women Empowerment (IBCWE). With the support of board members and assistance from the Australian Government, she initiated the establishment of IBCWE in October 2016. With more than 20 years of experience, Maya is leading the IBCWE in transforming policies and practices into a gender-equal workplace. The organisation is also part of the development team of GEARS, an early diagnosis tool for workplace gender equality.

She was selected as one of the advocates of the G20 EMPOWER Programme, representing Indonesia in the G20 forum, and was also appointed as policy manager for Women in Business Council of B20 for Indonesia G20 Presidency 2020.

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