A Glance and a Chance for ‘Womenomics’ in Indonesia

The bitter truth.

During a trip to Ujung Kulon with my 8 year-old daughter, we were visiting a local school and took part in a small group mentoring for female junior-high school students. Briefed by the local teacher to motivate these girls to study and be positive due to the economy & accessibility challenges, most of these girls would end up not continuing their school to a higher education.

Yet among less than 20 people, there was only 1 girl who speak loud and telling us how she wanted to be an Intel, she found the profession as an act of courage and good knowledge. She is different. And with her ambition (and apparently a Top of class) she deserves a seat for a higher education. She deserve to be whatever she wants to be.

But I guess leaving them after left so much questions in me..  What if that girl unable to continue the education ? What if her family asked her to stay and just get married ? What if there are only few seats for schools and she’s being de-prioritized for being a woman…

Indonesia Gender Numbers: 81 – 56 – 5

Indonesia, with its 250 million people and nearly half is women, sadly speaking not half as much of the opportunity to pursue higher education. Based on publication of Local Representatives’ House on Women’s Role in Indonesia Development , found that only 81,15 million are working and around 56 percent of those came from elementary school graduates. Less than 5% of those working women graduated from a higher education.

As much grateful I am for completing my degree, juggling both raising a child and building a career, I feel responsible as much to ensure that my being at workplace makes a different in any ways that I could possibly contribute. Even if the changes is not happening anytime soon, as even when it takes 81 years  for eliminating the questions of gender parity at work. It helps to start now. The United Nations estimates that Asia-Pacific economies could grow by an additional $89 billion per year if women realized their full economic potential, and that output per worker could rise 7-18 percent if business opportunities for women and men were equal. So yes, Let’s think about the good difference that we can make for Indonesia Economy.

Based on the study done by The Asia Foundation, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Indonesia employs around 96 percent of country’s workforce and women make up about one-third of  ownership. SMEs served as the backbone of developing Asian Economies. SMEs has given women in Asia a better opportunity to contribute to their noble being as women of the house who take a primary care of the children.  Hence, women can have both, Work & Family. So yes, in order for Companies to benefit or the rise of these womenomics in Indonesia, it needs start thinking on how it can facilitate the needs of Indonesian women for being in a harmony — both work and family.

It’s not only happening in developing countries..

A survey of Harvard Business School  found that 37 percent of millennial women and 42 percent of those already married planned to interrupt their career for family. That compared to 28 percent of Gen X women and 17 percent of baby boomers. Anotherstudy of female students graduating from Wharton found the disbelieve of achieving both career and family success due to lack of organization support.

Peeking Womenomics and understanding the needs for a company to have a supporting policy for working women in order to meet the optimum business growth of a company, I wouldn’t be surprised when the next fresh graduate would keep an eye for a more mother-friendly company to work for. So yes a balance for both Work & Family is not a matter of Indonesia but also a Global matter. And to make it even clearer, men as well demand the similar balance. It is a diversity needs, for both women and men.

The target to achieve: Gender Diversity on Board.

Following the catalyst report, business players realizing the needs to play in the game of change. And most Corporate Giants dominantly those in FTSE 100 are now rushing to meet the Target set by Lord Davies is achieving 1/3 of Women on Board by 2020. A good thing this year, 26 percent of Women on Board by end of 2015 seems very possible, yet  it was predicted to be plateauing effect longer term  whereby the percentage of women on boards fails to achieve more than 28 percent by 2020.

This effect is caused by the high intake of female directors immediately after the Davies Report, but not sustained ever since. Other study proved that quota is not the answer for this, it helps to recruit but not a warranty for retention. It’s a good thing to have quota but being good is not enough for this.

Then WHAT?

3 perspectives of Chances to Contribute towards the Womenomics era in Indonesia

Things that a Country can do :

  1. Promoting societal supports. As women in Indonesia is dominantly responsible for a child-care, it would help to set a role model for men to take active role of partnership in parenting.
  2. Intervention to support women in business. Improving access to business information and promoting more business events to participate and connect with. Indonesian women are exceptionally among other countries in participation of Business Association. The crave for connection has apparently helped women in finding ways to make things possible.
  3. More women in the house. Yes — I know I said quota is only a start. Yet a country policy impact millions of people. Having women in the house have a similar effect as having women on board.


Things that Companies can do to sustain :

  1. Adaptation of a company policy in ways of working. We know that we will need more millennials in our business, it’s be there or be behind in the game of changes. Diversity in recruits and Flexibility is what becomes essential value for Millennials.
  2. Provide mentoring & sponsoring for women, not only between women but as well from men. With periodical mentoring, sustainability is being created. Sponsorship will also help boost more confidence of having potential women on board — for both the talent and the other stakeholders.
  3. Promote connection both internal & external. Internal for women to develop themselves and network — we know from study how Indonesian women loves to mingle and share thoughts. External for women to connect with other companies/business as well also taking part in government effort to support women participation in economy.

Things that WE CAN do :)

  1. Be a responsible marketer. Considered myself blessed having a job to service million of Indonesian Mothers, as women holds at least 80% purchase decision — this Company holds  a great influence to shaping the thoughts and perception of a society in a long run through our communication and interaction with them. So be mindful and think about the future of our kids ;-)
  2. Be part of the game. Lucky to be in a company that promotes to have 1/3 of women on board and 1/3 of nationality diversity, so considered I am a woman of color hence my chance is higher, logically. Let’s see how the game is played then ;-)
  3. Be a good citizen and always remember to pay it forward. One last favorite quote, in everything that we do, try to say this out loud when you start the morning:

So women, go step forward, be seen, and ask yourself —  If not me, who ? If not now, when ? – Emma Watson #HeForShe

And please don’t stop here, add your things to these lists :-)