HR & CSR: Managing Diversity and Inclusion in Times of Disruption

HR & CSR: Managing Diversity and Inclusion in Times of Disruption

On September 18 at the DoubleTree Sukhumvit Bangkok, over 40 attendees joined AMCHAM’s HR and CSR committees in a joint event titled Managing Diversity and Inclusion in Times of Disruption. Attendees had the honor of hearing Dr. Malinvisa Sakdiyakorn, HR/OD Lecturer and Researcher at Mahidol University, and Arni Riffareal, HR Director, Philippines and Director of Diversity and Inclusion Asia Pacific at Ford Motor Company, speak on the subject.  The afternoon started off with HR Committee Co-Chairs, Christopher Shultz and Sukkamon Supachote, engaging attendees with an interactive exercise. Guests were seated at different tables and asked to have a candid 10-minutes discussions on a question relating to diversity and inclusion in the workplace before being reshuffled to another table to answer another question. This helped with setting the tone for a frank discussion on the future of Thailand’s work force and practices. Also giving the participants a chance to network as they themselves represent a vast range of industries and work experience.

Dr. Malinvisa Sakdiyakon has a prestigious pedigree of education and frequently consults for major businesses throughout Thailand on a variety of Human Resource related matters. She began her speech discussing how workplaces in Thailand are becoming more fluid and adaptable to keep up with current global trends. Focusing on generational differences, Malinvisa spoke on how the most recent generation, Gen Z or people born in the late 1990s, are becoming less concerned about the position they hold and more concerned with workplace environment. Alternatively, the elderly are choosing to stay in the workforce longer and require training to stay agile in their careers. Reskilling and Upskilling have started to gain popularity in many HR environments and workers of all ages are needing both these skills. Malinvisa implored companies to look beyond the easy to detect diversity needs, like gender, religion, and age, and to place an importance on subcultures, like interests, values, and ideas, and how those will integrate into their existing structure. She spoke on the Kingdom’s efforts to be more inclusive of these changes to the workforce, like Thailand’s recent tax incentive to hire the elderly and the reverse mentoring culture that many companies are engaging in today. Malinvisa went on to cite examples of efforts in inclusion that some companies in Thailand are focusing on to help workers from different countries feel more accepted in their jobs.

Arni Riffareal complimented Malinvisa’s macro focus of diversity and inclusion with a micro focus on a case study regarding her work within Ford Motor Company. Ford’s efforts to be a more diverse and inclusive environment began in 2014 and has grown over the years. Arni attributed this to three success pillars: 1) Diversity and Inclusion should be an idea owned by the leadership 2) Relevance and applicability will change depending on factors like location or average age of the company and 3) Integration with the business while keeping the people in the process. She spoke of the first success factor being most important. As most inclusion and diversity initiatives are driven by Human Resources, there tends not to be a lot of growth. On the other hand, having leadership volunteer to champion different initiatives, as Ford Motor Company has done, helps keep these issues at the front of mind and therefore, more sustainable and effective. Arni spoke on how training employees to recognize unconscious biases has helped the company become more diverse. She ended her presentation with a video that Ford created to educate and promote awareness which can be viewed here.

After a short coffee break, attendees were invited to return for a Q & A session with both speakers that was moderated by Sukkamon. The session lasted for over 40 minutes as guests had a number of questions ranging from how does a company prove that inclusion measures are working to how can we encourage blue collar workers to feel more confident in speaking up to their superiors.

Photos from the event can be found on our Facebook page here. A copy of the speakers’ slides can be found on the AMCHAM member portal after their permission is received.



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