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Engendering expertise

Released at: 09:26, 14/06/2016

Engendering expertise

Photo: Diageo Vietnam

Mr. Shivam Misra, General Director of Diageo Vietnam, tells VET about its focus on equipping women in the hospitality sector with interpersonal skills.

by Linh San

■ Why has Diageo Vietnam launched the “Building Interpersonal Skills for Female Hospitality Workers in Vietnam” program?

Women’s empowerment is one of our strategic priorities at Diageo. Women are represented across our entire organization, our suppliers, our farmers, our customers, and our consumers. We understand that when women have access to education and learning there is a powerful ripple effect that positively impacts on societies around them. That is why Diageo’s “Plan W: Empowering Women through Learning” community investment program was launched a few years ago.

Plan W is part of Diageo’s new 2020 sustainability and responsibility commitments, which aim to build thriving communities. Through Plan W our goal is to empower women across all the Asia Pacific markets we operate in, giving them opportunities to learn and develop skills. In March 2013 Diageo became the first beverage and alcohol company to sign the UN Women’s Empowerment Principles globally. Diageo is committed to workplace diversity as well as growing the talent, skills and capabilities of the women who work within our wider value chain. Our four key areas of focus for Plan W include: our Company - ensuring a diverse and equitable workforce; our Industry - delivering targeted skills training to women in hospitality to improve their knowledge and job prospects; our Communities - working with partners to train women in marginalized communities, helping them to obtain jobs and start businesses; and our Consumers - raising awareness among consumers.

Since 2013, in the context of Plan W, Diageo Vietnam has been in the partnership with Kenan, CSIP and other organizations to carry out various interpersonal training courses to improve the capabilities of women working in our company, in our industry and in the community as well. We have also organized events to enhance awareness among our consumers.

The “Building Interpersonal Skills for Female Hospitality Workers in Vietnam” project, which we are currently running in partnership with Kenan, is part of our “Plan W - Empowering Women through Training” campaign.

■ How do you view the role of female workers in Vietnam’s hospitality sector?

We can see Vietnamese women are playing an increasingly important role in Vietnam’s socioeconomic development. They hold critical positions in government authorities, they run big corporations, and they are key members in the leadership teams at MNCs.

Hospitality is one of Vietnam’s key economic sectors and has huge potential for further development. The industry, where women employees account for about 72 per cent of the workforce, is expected to make an even greater contribution to Vietnam’s GDP when its potential is fully tapped. To achieve this objective, among many other factors the hospitality industry will need a well-trained and skilled workforce. This requires constant training, including full-time professional training, soft skills training, and on-the-job training, which are all equally critical.

In Vietnam, Diageo has implemented a lot of initiatives to support the industry in terms of improving workforce capabilities. In addition to interpersonal skills training we have offered to female hospitality workers we also run bartender training programs, such as “Raising the Bartenders” and the “Diageo Bar Academy”, to equip F&B students and staff with essential knowledge on mixology.

■ Can you tell us more about Plan W in Vietnam?

Under the “Building Interpersonal Skills for Female Hospitality Workers in Vietnam” project, during April and May we conducted 15 interpersonal skills training courses to empower 700 female hospitality workers from 12 high-end hotels in Hanoi. We expect the training will help to improve workplace performance and promote the psychological well-being of female hospitality workers by developing their interpersonal skills, including teamwork, problem solving, and effective communication. We also increase their awareness about the DRINKiQ program, which is a responsible drinking initiative being implemented by Diageo in collaboration with relevant ministries and agencies in Vietnam.

While we have received positive feedback from leading hotels in Hanoi we also have conducted evaluations with all participants to measure the program’s effectiveness. Our initial evaluation results showed that the participants were satisfied with the training and their knowledge of interpersonal skills increased in term of problem solving, communications and team building.

■ Do you have any plans to launch the program in other cities or provinces in Vietnam in the time to come?

While we can be proud of the significant progress made already there is still much work to do. Sustainable development can be achieved when women can unleash their potential and have a positive impact on their own lives, families, children and community. And Diageo will continue our Plan W journey to provide relevant and critical training courses for women as well as any other relevant support to shape the future of our industry and our community.

■ The AEC, created on December 31, 2015, will help energize the bloc’s labor market and job creation in each member nation. A considerable benefit of the AEC is the free movement of skilled labor. Through mutual recognition arrangements, the ten ASEAN countries have allowed workers in eight professions (including tourism professionals) to seek employment freely within the bloc. How do you think this move will affect human resources in Vietnam’s hospitality sector?

I think the free flow of skilled labor among ASEAN countries presents both opportunities and challenges for Vietnam’s workforce. When well-trained and professional employees from regional countries can join Vietnam’s workforce thanks to support in term of policies and procedures it will be provide development opportunities for the industry as well as a learning curve for the local workforce. It demands that the local workforce improve its competitiveness, raise the bar, and cope with regional competition. However, the fundamental factor for the sustainable growth of Vietnam’s workforce, as I mentioned above, is to provide necessary training. Diageo Vietnam is working with its partners to make contributions to sustainable development in this regard.

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