Meet the LGBTQ ally and diversity champion helming dtac’s human resources

During Pride Month, dtac made history as a large enterprise in the SET50 extending its spousal benefits to same-sex couples. dtac also categorized gender reassignment surgery as medical leave and now offers parental leave for parents who adopt infants. The new policies reflect dtac’s responsible business foundation that brings together compliance, data privacy, supply chain sustainability, digital upskilling, climate change, human rights and the health and safety of our workers. 

dtacblog spoke to Nardrerdee Arj-harnwongse, Chief People Officer of dtac, to understand what motivated her to the launch these new policies.

Bringing Your Whole Self to Work

“Diversity and inclusion have always been at the core of dtac’s culture,” she said. “A few years ago, a same-sex couple asked if they were entitled to dtac’s wedding leave and allowance—and we said yes! But there was no specific mention of same-sex couples in our policies. We’ve now corrected that to send a strong message to our LGBTQ employees. We see you, we value you, and we want you to feel at home here.”

As dtac’s Chief People Officer, Ms. Nardrerdee must keep thousands of positions staffed with happy, productive employees. Overall, dtac’s male-female divide leans towards the latter (68 percent) and the workforce spans a full gamut of generations, from Gen Z to Gen X—and even a few boomers. There are also many visible LGBTQ employees.

“dtac is diverse. We have different age groups, nationalities, levels of ability, genders, sexualities and gender expressions. But to go from diversity to inclusion takes an active effort on our behalf,” she said. “Once I had a gay employee tell me, ‘I can be myself in your team.’ That’s what I want to hear. Being able to say that is more than just diversity. It’s inclusion. I want employees at dtac to be able to bring their whole self to work.”

Ms. Nardrerdee explains that without that level of comfort, employees keep to themselves and try to fit in to get promoted. In an economy that puts increasing emphasis on creativity, customer empathy, and agility, a stifled work atmosphere can derail digital transformation.

“There’s always more we can do. In parts of our industry, some people don’t feel comfortable to be openly gay yet. Our environment is still not welcoming enough. And there is this a lot of unconscious bias,” she said. “This is why were actively addressing that with our Code of Conduct, our policies and our training.”

Diversity and Performance

Ms. Nardrerdee’s belief that diverse workplaces outperform homogenous organizations is backed by numerous studies. Boston Consulting Group revealed that companies with more diverse management teams had 19 percent higher revenues due to innovation. In a 2019 analysis, McKinsey & Company found that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on executive teams were 25 percent more likely to have above-average profitability than companies in the fourth quartile.

Dtac SD Report 2020_106

“Diversity is a competitive advantage. Hence, dtac expects our leaders to proactively support different perspectives, create an inclusive work environment, acknowledge the added value of diverse perspectives and increase their self-awareness of unconscious bias. We train them on these points and we ensure our recruitment and performance reviews are fair to all employees regardless of their age, gender, ethnicity or sexual orientation,” said Ms. Nardrerdee.

Diversity could also be the key to attracting and retaining top talent. In a Deloitte Millennial Survey, 74 percent of respondents said their organization is more innovative when it has a culture of inclusion. Deloitte also revealed that millennials stay nearly twice as long in organizations that foster diversity, equity and inclusion.

A Culture of Respect

“dtac’s culture is built around our code of conduct and four behaviors: always explore, create together, keep promises and be respectful. We treat all our stakeholders with fairness and kindness. We respect employees, customers, partners, and the communities we operate in. And we have zero tolerance for bullying, sexual harassment, discrimination, and any violation of human rights,” said Ms. Nardrerdee.

dtac’s new policies could be an important milestone for the LGBTQ community in Thailand, where the Justice Ministry had introduced a Civil Partnership Bill which is pending hearing in the parliament.

“I believe every individual can ignite change in society,” Ms. Nardrerdee added. “And as a company, we can do even more. When dtac announced its six-month maternity leave, we were the very first in Thailand. Since then, I’ve seen others follow our lead. This is a good example that you can ignite new thoughts in society. It may not work right away but never underestimate your impact in the long run.”

The announcement of dtac’s new LGTBQ-friendly policies can be read here.

dtac’s Code of Conduct can be found here.