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SEAF’s Gender Equality Scorecard© Case Studies

Bangladesh

Case Study 1: Digicon Technologies Limited

Overview

Founded in 2010, Digicon Technologies Limited (Digicon or the “Company”) has earned a strong reputation as a leading Business Processing Outsourcing (BPO) service provider. The Company delivers turnkey solutions to all industries that outsource their customer care division and back-office support.

Digicon offers a breadth of voice-based services to clients across multiple industries, including packages for inbound and outbound call-center facilities. In addition, the Company offers ready-to-go services that clients can deploy in a short period, such as:

  • Customer Help Desk Digicon provides help desk services by directly integrating with the client’s network and can address customer concerns by employing its own resources or engaging concerned departments
  • Back Office Support Includes account receivables, software development, Interactive Voice Response (IVR) services, infrastructure management, document management, data mining, database builds, data harvesting and direct mail campaign alerts
  • Billing and Coding Digicon also provides medical billing and coding services to physician chambers, hospitals and medical billing companies ensuring timely booking, billing and reimbursements while maintaining accuracy
  • Training Digicon offers a variety of training courses to corporate workforces focusing on contact centers, back-office and other knowledge-based domains of the BPO industry

Digicon’s client base includes leading  telecommunication companies, multinational electronic companies, insurance, non-banking financial institutions and government institutions amongst others. The Company is also involved in different training projects with both government and private organizations. Most of Digicon’s government training projects are focused on developing the next generation of skilled employees for Bangladesh’s thriving ICT sector.

The Company is also a training partner of the Bangladesh Association of Call Center and Outsourcing (BACCO) in which it is leading a dynamic initiative to train thousands of the country’s unemployed graduates/diploma holders aged 18-40 years in Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) skills including call center service, data entry, accounting, human resources, healthcare, legal processes, document management and IT services.

Digicon also arranges training programs for women, partnering with different government authorities. The programs foster women’s healthcare, women’s entrepreneurship and technical skills development.

Key Facts

Current Activities

  • More than 110 million of Bangladesh’s 160 million population is under the age of 35. Only 60 million of them are connected over the internet. They are not only using the internet for entertainment purposes, but also for creative and innovative tasks
  • Obstacles exist for educated women to become involved in traditional jobs due to social norms. However, the BPO sector has been attracting talented women as it offers an excellent working environment and general opportunity for them
  • The Skills for Employment Investment Program (SEIP) supports the Government of Bangladesh’s reforms in skills development as articulated in the National Skills Development Policy. SEIP enables a large proportion of the population to be employed
  • Access to free training facilities for educated women through SEIP has contributed to an increase in female participation in the BPO industry.
  • Around 2,000 people have enrolled in SEIP training programs with Digicon under four different courses with over 700 of them being female. Around 56% of the trained participants receiving direct job placement at Digicon and at other Bangladesh’s other BPO companies.

Digicon’s SEAF Gender Equality Score©

Bangladesh Gender Demographics

  • The number of employed in Bangladesh is increasing over time and the percentage of women’s participation has increased more than that of men.
  • Bangladesh has seen an increase in literacy rate for both women (71%) and men (76%), with the divide narrowing over the past 5 years.
  • The benefits for women working in BPO include an increase in income, the ability to gain new and varied skills, an increased sense of empowerment and better healthcare, amongst others.
  • Different ICT and BPO training programs have been initiated by the Bangladeshi government to develop the technical skills of educated young people in the country, including some women’s economic empowerment initiatives.

Women’s Economic Empowerment Highlights of Digicon

Pay Equity

  • No major pay discrimination for the employees in Digicon, the compensation ratio of the female and male salaried employees is 92%. Additionally, the Company has a compensation policy which explicitly supports pay equity
  • SEAF WEE Team is working with the Company to establish employee surveys for benchmarking studies, with disaggregated data to further improve pay equity

Benefits & Professional Development

  • Addressing gender equality in the workplace by offering paid maternity leave and other postnatal benefits to women employees
  • Providing health insurance facilities that improve employee performance and increase productivity
  • Enabling women to reach their full potential by developing their capacity through different training programs
  • Providing phone allowance, subsidized food and daily transportation facilities that disproportionally benefit women employees

Workforce Participation

  • 39% female workforce participation
  • Finds the right talent for its workforce from its own training programs. Female workplace participation in Digicon is increasing through direct recruitment from the SEIP training programs
  • Digicon is in a good place for learning about the effectiveness of a work-life balance in attracting and retaining talent, particularly female employees. Different recreational and cultural events are arranged regularly for the employees as team building activities
  • Overall female turnover ratio is only 7.4%, comparatively less than that of men

Workplace Environment

  • Practicing roster basis duty (8 hours) to maintain the productivity and increase efficiency of its employees. For safety and health issues, female employees are not allowed to work the night shift in Digicon
  • Ensuring a safe workplace environment for women employees by establishing strict adherence to the sexual harassment policy
  • Offering flexibility in working arrangements and work timings which encourage Digicon’s female employees to join and stay longer. Moreover, employees are rewarded on a merit basis for timely deliveries
  • Also ensuring a safe place of work, where facilities are strictly monitored, and transportation is easily accessible

Leadership & Governance

  • Increasing cap table representation with 11% of shareholders being women, compared to the wider South Asian context where only an average of 18% of the firms have women among their principal owners
  • 14% C-Suite representation are women vs South Asia as a whole in which only 11% of firms have women as top managers
  • Increasing female ownership and leadership helps foster a culture that embraces diversity and rewards people based on their achievements and their potential capabilities
  • SEAF WEE team is working with the Company to help more women employees achieve their career development at top and mid-management levels

Women Powered Value Chains

  • Empowering women through freelance, IT and call center training services that are fully dedicated for educated women in rural areas of Bangladesh
  • Working actively to help increase female entrepreneurs in the Information and Telecommunication Technology (ICT) sector through the “She Power Project: Sustainable Development for Women through ICT” training program with the ICT division of the Bangladesh Government
  • Providing “Family Planning” training for women in collaboration with Directorate General of Family Planning (DGFP) that ensures the good health and well-being of women, particularly in remote areas of the country

Download this case study in pdf form here.

Vietnam

Case Study 2: Kyna 

Overview

Dream Viet Education (“Kyna”) is a leading provider of online education in Vietnam. Kyna is providing online programs for K-12 students and parents. Kyna’s mission is to leverage technology to bring better, fairer education access to all Vietnamese people, particularly women and children. Established in 2013 by Ms. Ho Hong Bao Tram, Kyna is a woman-led business in line with both the UN SDG 4- Quality Education  and 5 – Gender Equality.

Market Need

Research from the International Education Journal found that family income and parental education have a significant impact on the cognitive development of children and that children in rural areas suffer poorer learning outcomes. The report called for equity in the provision and quality of primary level education. Income disparities in Vietnam prevent access to early education for children in rural areas and smaller cities.

Despite demand from parents, many children, for either geographical or financial reasons, cannot access English learning at an early age. Children in kindergarten in Vietnam are usually not exposed to English learning unless their parents can afford tutoring, or they are international students who come from English-speaking households. Moreover, qualified English teachers are concentrated mostly in large cities, presenting a supply-side issue that hinders the country’s efforts to improve the English skills in younger generations. Per 2017 estimates, Vietnam has 4,600,000 children in kindergarten, with 80% living outside its two largest cities.

Business Model

Kyna provides English and Math courses to pre and primary school children as well as parenting courses to their families. With Kyna, children from different parts of the country can access high-quality, native content courses on demand at the cost of only US$5 per year.

Kyna also offers parenting courses, with 55+ trainers nationwide known as influential parenting experts, providing useful knowledge and skills for parents, especially mothers, to raise their children. The video course content include topics such as pregnancy, nutrition for babies, early education to parenting methods for children up to 18 years old.

Overview

Dream Viet Education (“Kyna”) is a leading provider of online education in Vietnam. Kyna is providing online programs for K-12 students and parents. Kyna’s mission is to leverage technology to bring better, fairer education access to all Vietnamese people, particularly women and children. Established in 2013 by Ms. Ho Hong Bao Tram, Kyna is a woman-led business in line with both the UN SDG 4- Quality Education  and 5 – Gender Equality.

Market Need

Research from the International Education Journal found that family income and parental education have a significant impact on the cognitive development of children and that children in rural areas suffer poorer learning outcomes. The report called for equity in the provision and quality of primary level education. Income disparities in Vietnam prevent access to early education for children in rural areas and smaller cities.

Despite demand from parents, many children, for either geographical or financial reasons, cannot access English learning at an early age. Children in kindergarten in Vietnam are usually not exposed to English learning unless their parents can afford tutoring, or they are international students who come from English-speaking households. Moreover, qualified English teachers are concentrated mostly in large cities, presenting a supply-side issue that hinders the country’s efforts to improve the English skills in younger generations. Per 2017 estimates, Vietnam has 4,600,000 children in kindergarten, with 80% living outside its two largest cities.

Business Model

Kyna provides English and Math courses to pre and primary school children as well as parenting courses to their families. With Kyna, children from different parts of the country can access high-quality, native content courses on demand at the cost of only US$5 per year.

Kyna also offers parenting courses, with 55+ trainers nationwide known as influential parenting experts, providing useful knowledge and skills for parents, especially mothers, to raise their children. The video course content ranges from pregnancy, nutrition for babies, early education to parenting methods for children up to 18 years old.

Key Facts

Women benefit most from Kyna as the company provides easy access to education, particularly tackling the time poverty challenges faced by working mothers.  Kyna allows mothers to not only oversee their children’s education interactively, but also access resources for their own learning and development. 

Current Activities

  • Position Analysis: Kyna is well-positioned as an online education company as e-learning becomes the norm and as internet/mobile penetration continues to expand, particularly in rural areas. Kyna for Kids has seen sales increase, driven by a surge in online learning in February when parents were trying to find alternative education methods for children given school closures caused by COVID-19.
  • Parenting Courses: Kyna is partnering with more experts in the parenting field to deepen the current content as well as explore new areas of interest. Additionally, Kyna is launching free Q&A sessions for parents to improve interaction and engagement and is also developing a mobile application for parent use.
  • English Tutoring: The Kyna English program is immersive and based on internationally-recognized frameworks. Kyna for Kids is expanding the current 1-on-1 to include a 1-to-5 tutoring model to capture a broader market demand. It is also developing new curriculum for older children, up to 16 years old, in addition to developing and launching a Kyna English mobile application.
  • Proprietary content: Kyna is focusing on internally-developed courses rather than relying on third-party content to enhance its competitive advantage as well as boost its margin. Its first internally developed courses, Finger Math and Soroban, were well-received by the market
  • Regional Expansion: The company has recently established footprints in Thailand and Indonesia by partnering with local players (through revenue sharing models) to promote the self-paced English learning courses of the Kyna English program. This regional growth strategy will expand to include online English tutoring services

Kyna’s SEAF Gender Equality Score ©

Vietnam’s Gender Demographics

  • Vietnam has a young population with 20 million K-12 students and approximately 38 million people aged 18-45 out of a total population of 97 million. 94.5% of the population are literate with a high women literacy rate present of 92.8%
  • There are 13.9 million Vietnamese students in kindergarten and primary school, and  47% of children under 14 are girls
  • About 87.7% of Vietnamese women are in the labor force with the ratio continuing to trend upwards. As a result mothers are increasingly participating in the working population
  • According to the Global Gender Gap Report 2018, Vietnam ranked 77th out of 149 countries in terms of progress towards gender parity. The report found that Vietnam was 0.972 above the global average between equality and inequality in education attainment

Women Economic Empowerment Highlights

Pay Equity

  • The SEAF team is working with Kyna on establishing employee surveys or benchmarking studies, institutionalizing best practices and further improving pay equity

Benefits & Professional Development

  • Kyna follows government regulations and guidelines on providing benefits for employees including social security and health insurance, paid-leave and time-off for emergencies
  • As per the company’s policy, the chief officers of departments are able to work from home one day a month to refresh and handle family matters. During the COVID-19 crisis, these employees were also allowed to work from home three days a week
  • Kyna provides training to newly recruited employees online and in-house

Workforce Participation

  • The chief academic officer and all employees in content development & curriculum departments are women.Given that many are mothers, they have the context to thoughtfully address the needs of Vietnamese parents and children
  • All of the telesales employees are also women as women who have strong attributes in communication and relationship building

Workplace Environment

  • Kyna follows AGILE, a working method applied in technology companies to optimize the working time in a day. The company has replaced weekly meetings with project-based meetings and avoids reporting as much as possible to save time and allow for personnel in charge to focus on deliverables. All reports now are able to be updated in real time by tracking software
  • Kyna also encourages open discussion between hierarchies and departments

Leadership & Governance

  • Ms. Tram, the founder/CEO, has continually supported Teach For Vietnam. The not-for-profit organization is dedicated to building bridges between cultures and improving English language instruction for children in rural areas of Vietnam, through free English learning videos for kids and donations of laptops to children in poor provinces
  • Along with the founder, Kyna’s senior management includes women in the position of chief academic officer and chief marketing officer

Women Powered Value Chains

  • 58% customer of Kyna are women.
  • 58% of content partners and 53% of online tutors are women
  • 78% of all employees are women
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