At the Employee Experience Awards 2022 in Singapore, the Amazon Web Services (AWS) team won the bronze medal for Best Women Leadership Programme.
Sandra Teh, Culture Evangelist at Amazon Web Services, APJC, verifies the process that led to this success in this interview. She mentions mentoring programs including top leadership, as well as a program run by female workers to provide women in tech a platform to interact with like-minded colleagues.
Q: Congratulations on your success! Could you describe the highs and lows of your successful approach?
A: We really appreciate the organizing committee honoring AWS in the area of "Best Women Leadership Program." Our main goal is to establish an inclusive workplace where everyone can contribute their best abilities to the development and invention of products for our clients, regardless of background or gender.
Finding the appropriate talent is sometimes a difficult process. At AWS, we have always placed a greater emphasis on recruiting carefully than quickly. To be an impartial third party throughout the hiring process, we developed the Amazon Bar Raiser program, where we bring in an Amazon interviewer (a Bar Raiser) who is not a member of the team. This makes sure that the best recruiting decisions are made in the long run and that we are bringing on new people that are enthusiastic about surprise, delighting, and creating for consumers.
Q: It's never simple to comprehend and satisfy your employees' requirements and expectations. How did AWS determine the needs of the business and the employees and provide the ideal solution?
A: Employee engagement is essential, as is listening to their worries, hopes, and expectations. Every Amazonian participates in a daily survey at AWS where they respond to a question about the workplace. The data gives management feedback and real-time insights into how our staff are feeling.
In order to empower women in all areas of our workplaces, we first reach out to them to learn how we might improve their working conditions. So that women feel accepted and empowered at work, we make sure that future programs address their issues.
The AWS She Builds initiative is one of them. She Builds, which was first conceived of in 2017, is run by our female workers, who plan industry presentations and workshops to provide women in tech a place to meet other like-minded individuals and look for ways to develop their technical and strategic abilities. With more than 7,000 registrations to far, this has also been expanded to include mentorships throughout Asia Pacific-Japan.
Q: In terms of ROI, how did the plan contribute to the overall AWS employee experience after it was put into practice? Tell us about the advantages of implementing such a plan.
A: Our efforts are still appreciated and yielding results in the sector: Amazon was chosen by Fast Company as one of the Best Workplaces for Innovators, and it now holds the #2 spot on the Fortune World's Most Admired Companies list.
It will need strategies based on empathy, license to learn and experiment, allyship, and data to attract, develop, and retain talent as we endeavor to achieve gender parity in technology.
Q: Could you give any advice to your colleagues in different fields on how they might do something similar for their own EX foundations?
A: Inclusion must be ingrained in an organization's DNA, not only a policy or program on inclusion, diversity, and fairness.
Mentorship programs that are sponsored by and include senior leadership are essential to ensuring the success and representation of women talent in the boardroom when it comes to increasing the participation of women in technology.
Learn and Be Curious is one of the leadership tenets of AWS. This is crucial for fostering inclusion and encouraging employees to attempt new things, as fresh ideas should be broadly accepted throughout the organization without regard to a person's gender, experience, or educational background. As a company, we think that anyone may have a fantastic idea, and we've set up the systems to support hundreds of them from our builders at any given moment.
Q: What is one thing you would change about how you would carry out this approach, if you were to think about it?
A: We constantly evaluate our performance and seek for areas where we can make improvements. One issue is that we might have conducted smaller pilots prior to deployment or earlier launched some activities. At Amazon, we adhere to the Day 1 philosophy, in which we approach each day as if it were the first at a brand-new firm.
This entails putting our attention on what the present and future demand, making the best choices we can at the time—decisions that may differ from those that previously made sense—so that we can continue to embrace the opportunities and challenges of the present while remaining flexible and resilient.
To do this, we strive to have more discussions and make sure that choices are made in a two-way rather than a one-way fashion. This, in our opinion, is essential to inspiring our staff to exercise even more bravery when trying new things and pursuing novel concepts.
Q: In the years to come, how will AWS continue to build on this successful approach?
A: If there is anything we have learnt over the past several years, it is to always be prepared, to pay close attention to client input, and to see around corners before they become obstacles.
Keeping people at the center of all we do will help us as a company to remain flexible and adaptable. Since people are still an organization's greatest asset, investing in them must be our top focus. To enable them to innovate with confidence, we make sure they have access to training and continual development to keep abreast of current, in-demand skills.
Q: What do you think HR will look like in ten years?
A: We will keep putting a lot of emphasis on multi-cultural and multi-generational diversity at AWS, which I think is extremely exciting! In ten years, our youthful tech talent will have gained experience as tech professionals, and our seasoned and tenured Amazonians will continue to foster the growth of our future talent while imparting their own wisdom and that of their younger colleagues.
The requirements of the workforce will inevitably alter as organizations continue to adapt to new technology, operational procedures, and business models. HR will continue to be a key factor in determining how organizations maintain their competitiveness in luring and keeping people. This would be in terms of generating quantifiable value even as businesses adopt more digital technology like robots, artificial intelligence, and cognitive solutions. To make sure that we are creating and innovating for our clients in ways that are pertinent, however, we must constantly listen to our staff.