At its First Women’s Initiative Network Summit in Singapore last week, Caterpillar Inc unveils its unorthodox methods to tackle gender bias.
Caterpillar Inc hosted men and women within the APAC region at Singapore’s Mandarin Orchard over two days for its first Women’s Initiative Network (WIN) APAC Summit in 2019.
With the theme of ‘Think Equal, Build Smart, and Innovate for Change’, the Summit served as a platform for sharing best practices among attendees, including business, academia and government leaders in the Asia Pacific region. The event brought together voices of prominent women in the region, including Singapore Member of Parliament, Rahayu Mahzam, Juliet Taylor of BHP, President of the Singapore Committee for UN Women Georgette Tan, and Caterpillar Group President Denise Johnson.
Topics focused on how to deliver increased business results through diversity and inclusion, equal representation, and women in leadership – issues that are important to Caterpillar Inc – says Caterpillar Group President Denise Johnson.
“Everyone everyday has an opportunity to be more inclusive. By listening to other ideas and thoughts, we will drive improvements in business as well as strengthening the diversity of our teams and it aids our company purpose – which is to help our customers build a better world. While there are several focus areas within our Diversity and Inclusion Strategy, gender is the one diversity topic that is globally applicable. Increasing access for women to leadership positions has potential for tangible impact on our organization’s ability to excel in an increasingly dynamic global business environment,” says Johnson.
According to a recent McKinsey Global Institute Study, USD 4.5 trillion of additional annual GDP in 2025 could be added to the economies of Asia Pacific by advancing women’s equality. That growth would represent a 12% increase on current GDP projections for 2025.
At present, 59% of Caterpillar Incs revenues and sales are generated outside the US. Caterpillar Inc, is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of construction, energy and resources and transport infrastructure equipment, pegging USD 54.7 billion in sales in 2018 alone. In January 2019, Caterpillar was named on the Forbes List of Best Employers for Diversity 2019. Currently, 20% of Caterpillar’s global workforce are women.
Caterpillar is joined by other global leaders in the focus on diversity and inclusion. BHP is a world-leading resources company and one of Caterpillar’s strategic customers in Asia. At the Summit, Manager for Account Management and Supply at BHP Juliet Taylor echoed Johnson’s sentiments.
“For BHP, our suppliers are central to our aspirational goal of achieving gender balance in our workforce by 2025. We are proud to support Caterpillar on this important regional event as we work to progress our shared vision for inclusion and diversity,” says Taylor.
Summit attendees also discussed the role men play in advancing diversity and inclusion. According to Caterpillar Vice President Asia-Pacific Raymond Chan, male leaders across their enterprises have firmly supported the organisation’s push for greater workplace inclusivity by participating in reverse mentoring programs.
“We’ve implemented a reverse mentoring program with junior female employees counselling senior male leaders. That program has established a platform for open conversations that have helped reduce unconscious bias in gender roles. We’ve seen some authentic growth that has driven business results, and it has reaffirmed our belief that diversity is the way forward. We are doubling down on our commitment to the cause,” says Chan.
In Singapore, the Women’s Initiative Network Chapter also designed a cross company mentoring program to create opportunities for female employees to communicate with senior leaders from other organizations to broaden their views. Topics like unconscious bias, breakthrough leadership and harnessing the power of networking are widely discussed. By collaborating with Cat Dealers and customers, Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) activities are being offered to school students in Singapore.
(Featured image of Caterpillar Group President Denise Johnson, Singapore March 2019. Image courtesy of Caterpillar Inc.)