Index to track women-friendly workplace policies launched in Asia

The first of its kind in the region, the Women Workplace Index will collect data from multiple firms into a publicly accessible database.

Organisations in Hong Kong and Asia will now have their progress tracked on the implementation of women-friendly workplace policies with help from a new initiative.

The Women Workplace Index (WWI), launched earlier this week, is purported to be the first of its kind in Asia. Aiming to become the biggest publicly accessible database of such disclosures, the WWI will collect data from firms on policies and practices such as those against sexual harassment, as well as maternity leave and equal pay. They aim to do so using a survey developed with reference to criteria such as listing rules and the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

The index will also act as an accreditation scheme, certifying organisations based on the extent of their disclosures, and will make the data available online for free.

“It’s not just about representation in management,” said Nicole Yuen, Founder and CEO of WWI, citing caretaking responsibilities, unconscious biases, sexual harassment, and a lack of flexible work as examples of continued obstacles.

“There is still not much progress on making workplaces conducive for women to straddle work and caring responsibilities.”

While some organisations do track organisations’ policies as part of broader corporate or environmental, social and governance (ESG) monitoring, this is often limited to counting female representation on boards and in the C-suite.

READ MORE: South-East Asia sees an increase in women on the board of directors

Doing so is considered “too simplistic” to Yuen, who designed WWI to track the breadth of organisations’ underlying policies as well as gender diversity. Focusing on disclosures, she said, helps jobseekers make more informed decisions and encourages employers to share best practices, reported the South China Morning Post.

WWI’s value-add could lie in helping people “access a consolidated pool of information that is all in one place, or that might not otherwise be public”, said Professor Virginia Harper Ho, a law professor at City University of Hong Kong who specialises in corporate governance and sustainability.

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