3M Vietnam's country leader embraces for gender equity

By Hoa Dang - Mar 27, 2023 | 09:00 AM GMT+7

TheLEADERIn her new role, country leader of 3M Vietnam Dang Thi Thanh Thuy will continue her predecessors’ efforts in maintaining an inclusive and equitable work environment where individuals are empowered to contribute their own perspectives and strengths.

3M Vietnam's country leader embraces for gender equity
Dang Thi Thanh Thuy, Country Leader of 3M Vietnam

Seizing many opportunities to work with and to be inspired to become a better version of herself every day by many brilliant and trailblazing female leaders in 3M across the world, Dang Thi Thanh Thuy, who has become the first female country leader of 3M Vietnam hopes she can inspire young Vietnamese girls to reach for their goals and challenge stereotypes.

In this role, she’ll be working closely with both regional counterparts and local teams to ace business transformation progress, accelerate growth and deliver greater operational efficiencies.

She also hopes to advance 3M’s brand in the country, accelerate 3M Vietnam’s positive work culture, and further enhance diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) initiatives via the company’s employee resource networks.

“Last but certainly not least, my plan is to support global initiatives and mobilize local efforts in our continued projects on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) to help create a brighter future for the world”, says Thuy.

From a leadership perspective, how do you see the gender equity narrative at 3M?

Dang Thi Thanh Thuy: At 3M, everything we do is centered around science and one of our main goals is to improve lives by helping solve the world’s greatest challenges. To do that, we know that having people from diverse genders and backgrounds who bring different experiences and perspectives will only lead to better solutions. Embracing the different skills, experiences, and abilities of our people are what drives our company forward and keeps us relevant.

Equity and inclusion, especially gender equality are one of the keys to unlocking the true power of diversity. We aspire to be an enterprise where people are respected for being exactly who they are, and everyone feels a sense of belonging — both within and outside of our walls. Our stakeholders look to 3M as a leader in influencing the change we want and need in our communities.

As reported in our ‘2021 Global Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Report’, women's representation in our global nonproduction workforce is at 40.5 per cent.

In Vietnam, we are progressing our talent recruitment strategies and processes to build a workforce that has future-focused skillsets. Currently, more than half of 3M Vietnam's staff are made up of female employees.

I’m also happy to share that maintaining an inclusive and equitable work environment where individuals are empowered to contribute their own perspectives and strengths has allowed 3M Vietnam to be ranked fifth place in the 2020 Top 10 Employer of Choice by CareerBuilder.vn. ​From 2018 to 2020, 3M Vietnam was also listed as one of the top 100 Great Places to Work by Anphabe Vietnam. It is our mission to continue building on this momentum for many years to come.

What challenges do you see in the Vietnamese market, where the culture and mindset are likely to differ from those of 3M globally, which has strong practices in sustainable development in general and gender equality in particular?

Dang Thi Thanh Thuy: One of the biggest challenges for women today comes from outdated misconceptions of gender stereotypes. The traditional idea of ‘women should stay at home to look after the kids, cook and clean’ still exists.

According to a 2022 survey by the Institute for Social Research and Development (ISDS), 95 per cent of men think that doing housework is to help women. Today, many Vietnamese women have entered the workforce in pursuit of their careers. However, according to data from the International Labor Organization - Employment Survey, women on average work more hours a week than men with more than twice as much housework, doubling the burden on women.

Vietnamese women are inherently hard-working, respectful of their families, and willing to do unpaid work. However, when these burdens are not shared, women's opportunities for employment, income, participation in social activities, and a life outside of their “responsibilities” becomes unattainable.

Gender discrimination still holds in some areas of society. Some people fail to appreciate the capacity of women, especially in leadership. This not only limits women’s access to higher education, but also affects their confidence, career paths, and opportunities for career advancements.

How can these issues be resolved in 3M Vietnam?

Dang Thi Thanh Thuy: At 3M, we believe in fair treatment, access, and opportunity for all individuals. Through an ongoing and constant process of identifying and removing barriers to participation and a strong focus on engaging every employee, we can foster an even more inclusive culture that supports and appreciates differences and provides fair and equal opportunities for everyone.

Our global pay philosophy, principles, and consistent implementation produce fair and equitable pay for our employees. We analyze pay equity by comparing employees in the same job category, job grade, and location. To continue driving toward gender pay equity, we conduct a supplemental analysis of average pay for males and females and compare the two. We also compare, by location, pay for males and females in all jobs and job grades. An assessment is then completed to determine any disparity. Through an objective process using aggregated data and industry-leading compensation methods, we have achieved 100 per cent gender pay equity in our global regions.

Furthermore, we are a “pay for performance” company: The more you contribute to 3M’s success, the more success you create for yourself. We offer a competitive base pay and depending on your position, variable incentive pay linked to the company and individual performance.

To tackle some of the misconceptions about gender stereotypes and foster a healthy work culture, 3M has in place the 3M Respectful Workplace Principle, as part of the 3M Code of Conduct. Everyone is entitled to respectful treatment in the 3M workplace. Being respected means being treated honestly and professionally, with each person’s unique talents, background, and perspectives valued. A respectful workplace is free from unlawful discrimination and harassment, but it involves more than compliance with the law. 

It is a work environment that is free of inappropriate or unprofessional behavior and consistent with 3M’s ethics and values — a place where everyone can do their best, and where people are free to report workplace concerns without fear of retaliation or reprisal. To foster this kind of workplace, we follow our Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) policies, which prohibit all forms of discrimination or harassment.

Success at 3M is driven by our people. As we continue to set our sights higher for future growth and innovation, the talent we attract and retain will help get us there. That’s why 3M reimagined how we operate with the launch of Work Your Way, a flexible approach that allows our non-production employees to determine the time, place, and manner in which to accomplish their work. This trust-based approach includes on-site, hybrid, and remote work options. For me, this means that I can better juggle my responsibilities at work and at home, reduce commuting time, and have the autonomy to structure my workday should there be errands that I need to complete.

How do leaders set a good example to promote gender equality in the workplace?

Dang Thi Thanh Thuy: Effective leadership involves having a clear vision and a strong strategy for implementing change. They lead the path forward and by “walking the talk”, they build trust and respect and inspire others to perform up to best practice standards. While it’s crucial for leaders to set a good example, I believe that it is every employee’s responsibility to foster a diverse, equitable, and inclusive work environment.

One of the methods includes providing unconscious bias training at all levels of the organization. To ensure these pieces of training are truly effective, we encourage employees to reflect and recognize their own biases and set goals to correct these beliefs. Continued training sessions, instead of one-off sessions also go a long way in strengthening inclusive culture.

At 3M, we focus on REAL Allyship, which stands for Reflect, Empathize, Act, and Learn. We encourage our employees to reflect on their experiences, perspectives, and innate assumptions, how these assumptions affect others, and how they came about.

Empathy is also key to advancing equity. Thus, we encourage male employees to learn and understand the challenges for women in the workplace, through listening, reading, and participating in dialogues with women. From these learnings, employees can then take action to build a culture of belonging, advocate for those who are marginalized, and continue their path of learning.

We acknowledge that allyship comes in various forms and allows us to advocate in ways that feel most authentic for each individual. Through our male allyship program, Men as Advocates, we invite everyone to challenge gender stereotypes and work towards gender-neutral mindsets and behaviors.

We are also redesigning the talent acquisition processes to better engage candidates from underrepresented groups. 3M is redesigning our interview processes to remove individual discretion and bias, and investing in a new interview management system focused on skills-based hiring.

What initiatives has 3M effectively implemented to assist women in advancing in their careers?

Dang Thi Thanh Thuy: In 2018, 3M Chairman of the Board Mike Roman signed the Catalyst CEO Champion for Change pledge together with 50+ other global companies and Catalyst Inc., a leading global nonprofit helping to build workplaces that work for women.  

The initiative is also intended to encourage more organizations to make commitments around increasing gender equality and highlights the great work of Champion companies to advance women’s leadership, create a more diverse workforce and support a workplace culture where everyone feels included.

We also sponsor 3M Employee Resource Networks, which are employee-led groups that champion inclusion and diversity, support leadership development, and promote collaboration across cultures, lifestyles, abilities, and genders. One such network is our Women’s Leadership Forum (WLF), which develops leaders at all levels to accelerate the inclusion and advancement of women globally. We now have over 5,000 employees across 65 chapters globally, including Vietnam and all countries within Asia where 3M operates.

In Vietnam, one of the most successful initiatives that we’ve been running for more than 2 years is the Lunch and Learn initiative led by WLF. This is one of the forums where female employees share their professional and personal experiences, as well as support and learn from each other. Male colleagues are invited to join these sessions too as a way to build better understanding amongst the team. This year, we are about to launch the “I am Remarkable” training series to help empower women in 3M to speak openly about their accomplishments in the workplace and beyond.

Back in 2021, Management and Sustainable Development Institute also received a GlobalGiving grant of $30,000 made in partnership with 3M for the ‘STEMherVN’ project. It recruited and provided scholarships to 21 female STEM ambassadors from high schools and universities in Hanoi. Together, the 21 ambassadors conducted STEMherVN Roadshows in at least two high schools, impacting over 2,000 students and inspiring them to pursue STEM education and careers.

Thank you very much for sharing!