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Media Statement: Malaysian Women In The Workforce

Shareen Shariza Dato' Abdul Ghani
Chief Executive Officer of TalentCorp Malaysia

  1. In support of the Government’s announcement that 2018 is the year of Women Empowerment, a core area of TalentCorp’s work is Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) in the workplace. Women make up half the nation’s population and account for over 55 per cent of enrolment in local universities. Malaysian women show a labour force participation rate of just over 54 per cent1  however, they tend to exit the workforce in their late 20s to early 30s, usually due to family commitments. 

  2. Today, women are recognised as a pivotal resource to drive economic growth and as highlighted in the 2018 Budget announcement, the implementation of 90-day paid maternity leave in the private sector is a step in the right direction in providing Malaysian women support for their maternal needs as well as optimum work-life balance. 

  3. In relation to the above, TalentCorp recently concluded a Life At Work Survey with over 360 employers to measure perceptions on Work-Life Practices (WLP) in Malaysia. Examples of WLP include providing Flexible Work Arrangements, Family Care Leave, Extended Maternity Leave, Nursing Rooms, and Childcare Centres. 

  4. The preliminary Life At Work survey findings show that:
    • 90 per cent of organisations believe WLPs are a key strategy for addressing workforce needs of the future.
    • 80 per cent of organisations agree that work-life balance contributed to improved productivity.
    • Improving employee well-being, increasing employee productivity and enhancing talent retention are the top reasons firms offer WLPs. 

  5. However, based on the same survey findings, the level of adoption is lacking when it comes to WLPs such as extended maternity leave which involve a broader reach, additional capital outlay and a certain amount of coordination. 

  6. Employers also benefit from better talent retention, as top employees going through new phases in life (such as starting a family) are happy to stay in companies that choose to adapt to their evolving circumstances. This reduces the need to recruit and train new employees. 

  7. More women in the workforce could potentially increase Malaysia’s GDP by between RM6 billion and RM9 billion2. While there are a number of Malaysian employers already offering extended maternity leave – including Maybank, IBM, Sunway, PwC, and Nestlé Malaysia to name a few – it would be wonderful to see more companies make greater efforts to retain and facilitate the return of more talented women to the workforce.


 1 Principal Statistics of Labour Force, Malaysia, Third Quarter (Q3) 2017
2 Women Matter: An Asian Perspective (McKinsey, 2012)

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