KUALA LUMPUR, 22 May 2018 – As part of the effort to continuously enhance and strengthen its commitments on human rights, Sime Darby Plantation Berhad (SD Plantation) has initiated a skill-based training workshop on the management of social issues for its plantation workforce that focuses on women and children rights.
The two-day intensive pilot programme, organised in collaboration with Yayasan Sime Darby (YSD) and the Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO), began on 23 April 2018 in SD Plantation’s Merlimau estate, in Melaka. It involved 65 employees of the company holding key support functions such as Hospital Assistants /Medical Assistants, Gender Committee Representatives, Auxiliary Police, Assistant Managers and Supervisors as well as Human Resource personnel. The aim of the programme was not only to develop a higher level of awareness and responsibility towards the prevention of sexual harassment and domestic violence, but also strengthen internal capabilities, monitoring and support system within the company to deal with issues relating to women and children.
“Women and children are two major components of the Sime Darby Plantation’s workforce and family. This programme is the latest effort among our Company’s many other initiatives to strengthen the implementation of the commitments in our Responsible Agriculture Charter (RAC) and Human Rights Charter (HRC) which include ‘Protecting the Rights of Children’ and ‘Eliminating Violence and Sexual Harassment’,” said Dr. Simon Lord, SD Plantation’s Chief Sustainability Officer.
“It is important for all responsible companies to recognise that the risk of sexual harassment and domestic violence perpetuated against women and children within their operations will continue to exist. But as long as we remain vigilant and continue to improve on the support system necessary to address these issues, the risks can be minimised. Sime Darby Plantation believes that the programme we initiated will provide the necessary support and guidance for our team members not only to manage on-ground implementation challenges, but also impart positive influence to surrounding communities, as well as our other stakeholders and business partners. SD Plantation is certainly looking forward to extend this programme further throughout our operations,” added Dr. Lord.
SD Plantation’s commitment in addressing women and children rights are not new. The Company established its ‘Gender Policy’ and ‘Prevention of Sexual Harassment Policy’ back in 2011 and 2013, respectively. Gender Committee, a requirement by the Roundtable Table on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), was also established throughout SD Plantations’ estates and mills operations to create opportunities for the development of female leadership and promote women active participation in the workforce. Prior to its listing on the Bursa Malaysia in November 2017, when the company was part of the Sime Darby Group, SD Plantation has also been a strong advocate of Child Protection Policy (CPP). SD Plantation was the first company in the palm oil industry to establish a child safe and friendly environment as part of its CPP in 2010.
WAO Acting Executive Director Ren Chung said it is important that principles such as human rights, gender equality and ending violence against women are implemented on the ground and the programme initiated with SD Plantation is one of the ways towards achieving that outcome.
“A big part of getting these principles to be implemented on the ground is ensuring that all actors play their part, especially big companies that have a large reach and large spheres of influence. So it is really important that companies like Sime Darby Plantation are taking the initiative to ensure that they are applying and adhering to standards of human rights, gender equality and taking steps to end violence against women,” he said.
“For WAO, we are always looking at ways to further achieve gender equality and end violence against women in Malaysia, and that involves working with people of influence in policy, people with large spheres of influence in communities. So doing activities like this is really in line with our mission and vision as an NGO,” he added.
YSD Chief Executive Officer Puan Hajjah Yatela Zainal Abidin said the Foundation was pleased to note how the workshop has created a sustainable impact among the participants, empowering them with important information that they may use for the benefit of their co-workers, friends and families.
“This initiative has the potential to spur change within the corporate sphere in Malaysia as the workshop’s module can be customised according to other companies’ needs. We sincerely hope that other companies will engage with WAO to hold a workshop of this kind to provide critical knowledge to their employees to truly bring about positive change within our society,” she added.