PETALING JAYA: A survey has found that 74% of Malaysian firms feel that they would lose out if they chose not to employ women returning from maternity leave.
Global workplace provider Regus said the findings of its latest survey on 19,000 business owners and senior managers in 98 countries indicated a “rapidly changing mindset”.
At the regional level, 66% of South-East Asian businesses said working mothers brought valuable skills and expertise to their companies.
However, the survey also found that 19% of Malaysian firms do not have women on board.
“With reports highlighting that the non-participation of women in the economy is costing as much as 27% per capita GDP in some countries, and that companies with more women on the board are more profitable, it is high time that businesses address the issue of how to adapt working practices to better suit working mothers,” said Regus Malaysia country manager Vijayakumar Tangarasan in a statement.
The survey found that the top strategies to get mothers back into the workforce included flexible hours, working closer to home and having the option to video conference instead of travelling to the workplace.
Of those surveyed, 59% said working from home was a key incentive for returning mothers.
Another 73% said women were taking shorter maternity leave, of less than three months, possibly due to financial pressures.
The survey also found that 45% of the respondents said the option to video-conference instead of travelling would be helpful for women returning to the workforce.
“Businesses do not hesitate to attribute value to working mothers, but when they return after maternity leave they often find that juggling professional and personal duties can be very demanding, if not impossible.
“It is not surprising, therefore, that more and more mothers are asking for flexible working hours.
“Whether it’s flexible hours, the opportunity to work closer to home or to their families at least some of the time, or the option to choose video-conferencing over business travel, these changes in incentives are key to helping more women get back into employment and driving the workplace into the future,” said Vijayakumar.