Article: The refugee community is a critical talent pool: Micron’s Cher Whee Sim

Diversity

The refugee community is a critical talent pool: Micron’s Cher Whee Sim

“Many advanced and dynamic economies need migrant workers to fill jobs. The challenges in each country are different, based on workforce and immigration laws. But there is a positive effect on your bottom line when you diversify your workforce,” said Cher Whee Sim, Vice President-Global Talent Acquisition, Mobility and Immigration at Micron Technology.
The refugee community is a critical talent pool: Micron’s Cher Whee Sim

Cher Whee Sim is a senior global leader with over 25 years of experience working in the semiconductor industry. She is currently Vice President-Global Talent Acquisition, Mobility and Immigration at Micron Technology and has shaped high performing culture in the industry and Micron with progressive technical knowledge, engaging inclusive communication style, and employing innovative human resource solutions to attract, engage, and retain top, diverse talent. Sim has led global teams in US, EMEA and Asia regions with team size of  over150 professionals and has also initiated the first Micron Women Leadership Network in Asia in Singapore and expanded into the rest of Asia. 

In an exclusive interaction with People Matters, Sim shares key insights on the value of the immigrant community and the need for concerted efforts to diversify the talent pipeline. Here are some excerpts:

What are your DEI priorities for 2022?

Building an inclusive and healthy culture requires a holistic approach that creates seamless experiences for team members across. At Micron, our diversity, equality and inclusion (DEI) programs are globally recognized and locally designed. We recognize that building strength in the diversity of our team members also requires diversity in our approaches. Our experience has shown us that our DEI programs must be as unique as the countries, languages, people and teams they represent. As a global company with factories and offices in 17 countries, “one size” does not fit all. 

Our efforts are part of a journey to not only create opportunity for all but also to foster more creativity within our inventor community that translates into broader, more valuable innovation for society. The values of every DEI program remain constant: Each platform is customised for the people it serves.  

With the pace of change still slow, how can organisations better balance the needs of underrepresented communities across access to employment, mental healthcare, career growth and cultural inclusion?

Companies should encourage the team members to embrace a continuous learning and growth mindset. The competition is fierce, and the path to winning requires growth in capabilities along with continuously elevating performance. There is a need to foster deep inclusion by relentlessly seeking out and celebrating differences. We must create programs that promote unique thinking, skill levels and interests to bring out the brilliance and creativity of our team members. These programs address and support each team member as a whole and unique person.

We must also recognize that being productive is directly related to being healthy. Well-being includes the dimensions of physical, mental, emotional and financial health and organisations must become a place where a team member’s well-being is cared for and valued.  

With immigration being one of your areas of expertise, how does that factor in the DE&I strategies championed by you? What advice would you like to give to leaders for creating greater sensitivity and inclusivity of the immigrant workforce?

Micron partners with Tent Partnership for Refugees, a community of more than 140 large companies leveraging their operations to support refugees. By joining, we have access to tailored guidance for how we can best support refugees, as well as to best practices and research. Our membership also allows us to connect with other companies that are engaged on the issue of refugees and sharing best practices throughout the world. 

Many advanced and dynamic economies need migrant workers to fill jobs. The challenges in each country are different, based on workforce and immigration laws. But leaders should know this is untapped talent and there is a positive effect on your bottom line when you diversify your workforce.

Research by McKinsey & Company found that teams that are more culturally and ethnically diverse are 33% more likely to be more profitable than their less-diverse competitors. People from these communities are often highly skilled and experienced.

Research from Deloitte found that 38% of refugees surveyed had a university education. Refugees have a wide range of talents and professional skills, and due to their experiences have often developed enormous resilience and adaptability. In addition, refugees are likely to be proficient in a number of languages, which can be another asset to businesses growing into international markets.

A recent Harvard Business School report coined the term 'hidden workers' to reflect the missing talent pool in global hiring efforts. In your opinion, what is keeping underrepresented talent hidden despite the spotlight on DEI today?

Refugees often face increased barriers to accessing jobs in their new host communities. Companies can play a vital role in creating jobs for refugees by training them and hiring them directly into their workforce. The refugee community is a critical talent pool organisations can leverage to accelerate their innovation while also helping people in that community build the foundation for a new and hopeful life.

Efforts to diversify our workforce takes time – to build the talent pipeline and fill roles. Inclusive hiring initiatives can help take this agenda forward, an example would be to assigning a candidate ally to the interview process. This is a member of a marginalised community to who both participates in the interview process and the interview debrief, listening for unconscious bias and mitigating it if it comes up. 

Diversifying where we source talent, targeting universities with strong STEM programs for women and engaging in relationships with organisations like Grace Hopper can also make a difference. We also make resumes anonymous at the beginning of the interview process, so initial candidate selection is based only on qualifications because there is no reference to race/ethnicity or gender. But these efforts take time and there is a long way to go before our workforce represents available diverse talent in the market. 

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Topics: Diversity, #BreaktheBias, #HRCommunity

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