Asians 'innate ability' to collaborate a competitive edge

Asia-Pacific workers' ability to work effectively with others gives regional companies an advantage in building diverse, equal opportunity workforce, says IBM exec.

Asian companies can tap on the "innate ability" of workers in the region to collaborate and work effectively in a team environment, which might not come as naturally in other regions, to build a diverse, productive workforce, says an IBM executive.

Sharon Koster, senior managing consultant for global business services at IBM Singapore, said that Asia's competitive advantage in fostering a diverse workforce is its "innate ability to collaborate".

Citing Singapore as an example, she said: "If you look at the Singapore context, where you have the amazing ability to tap on such a diverse workforce coupled with the Asian ability to collaborate, I think you get a great competitive advantage."

Another IBMer, Denis Brousseau, added that based on his observations, companies in the region are "sensitive and focused" on creating an equal opportunity workforce.

"There is a steady progression for Asian businesses to modernize their human resource [departments] so that they can compete in the global market equally with other mature countries," said Brousseau, the company's vice president and global leader for organization and people who is based in the United States.

This is important as companies will need to be able to attract talent in the overseas market as well as retain capable employees in the local market in order to better compete in the global market, he explained. Diversity also brings business value by driving productivity and collaboration, he added.

Creating an equal opportunity workplace
Adding on to Brousseau's point, Charmaine Sim, director of human resources at IBM Singapore, defined equal opportunity as looking beyond "age, race, religion, gender, disability and other such factors" when recruiting and developing people within the company.

"At the end of the day, it is all dependant on [the employee's] potential and performance," she said.

Koster also believes that it is important for companies to create a diversity agenda, which can then translate into actual corporate policies, to be the foundation of fostering an equal opportunity workplace.

This agenda will need to include various aspects of diversity and how the policies integrate with the company culture, Sim said. Both leaders and employees within the organization play a part in ensuring diversity too, she added.