Recruiting with Gender Diversity in Mind

Since its inception, the technology industry has faced an inherent gender diversity issue. Long considered a male-dominated world, over the past decades, we’ve seen a strong pivot towards female leaders rising up to the challenge of making their mark in the tech industry.

Grab is no different. We’re constantly pushing the envelope of ensuring all Grabbers are treated as equals, regardless of race, age, gender, sexual orientation etc. Females equate to 40% of our workforce, and a significant number of our country leaders are women.

To find out how we’re constantly improving on our Safe & Respectful Workplace (SRW) policies, we spoke with Natasha Wahap, our Head of Engagement and Inclusion.

Natasha (“call me Tash!”) comes from a recruitment background before making an Internal Mobility switch within Grab to work on People Engagement, and rising up to the challenge of becoming the company’s Chief Happiness Officer! Her infectious energy permeates throughout the organisation as she commonly leads many engagement activities such as being the anchor for G! News, G! Radio, our monthly global All Hands, and so much more! Read on to find out how Tash is enabling our Recruiters, as well as the whole of Grab, to ensure diversity and inclusion is always considered in all our actions.

Hey Tash! Thanks for taking time out of your busy workday to speak with us on this very important topic.

No problem, you caught me between meetings and I’m always happy to chat about all things inclusive (no pun intended).

Beyond gender equality, what does diversity look like at Grab?

We are Grabbers before gender. We are what we bring to the table. We value the uniqueness of each gender, but more importantly, we value the uniqueness of each individual. Grab is lucky to have many different talented people working together; different genders, nationalities, ethnicities, skills, education, interests, and that’s what makes Grab diverse, and a great place to work at.

At Grab, we commonly acknowledge diversity as bringing “self” to work. They always say that no two persons are the same, and we embrace that whole-heartedly. Beyond gender norms, we constantly seek to celebrate the uniqueness of each Grabber employee through different means.

As a collective, we provide various Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) to allow like-minded folk to connect with one another, e.g. Women at Grab is a platform for female Grabbers to connect and share their stories with one another. We also have a full month dedicated to amplifying inclusion in the workplace, called the Inclusion at Grab month. Examples of key activities include the integration of inclusive languages into our messaging platforms, celebrating the diversity of Grabbers, and launching new L&D programs for managers towards building a safe & respectable workplace, managing biases etc.

As an equal opportunity employer, we owe our success to the talents of our globally-diverse team and the varying perspectives they add to our thriving community. As such, we’re always at the forefront of ensuring Grabbers feel valued at the workplace, so that they can give their best to the projects they’re involved in.

Are you involved in any ERGs yourself?

I surely am! I’m a proud member of both Parents at Grab and Women at Grab. Having to look after my two kids, Ezra & Eli, while being a full-time Grabber isn’t easy, so I turn to my ERGs to see how we can uplift each other during crazy work periods.

Sounds like you’re pretty much a Supermom.. Or a Tiger Mom? 

Tough choice, but I’d go with Option 3: a Grab Mom! 😛

You’re truly a Grab Ambassador! When it comes to recruitment, how do we ensure our Grab Recruiters (a.k.a Talent Acquisition Business Partners) recruit with diversity in Mind? 

To empower our Talent Acquisition Business Partners (TABPs), we’re constantly encouraging them to explore our GrabLearn portal where there are evergreen refresher courses relating to screening, interviewing and other stages of the application journey. These refresher courses help to ensure that they acknowledge their biases. These trainings allow them to be at the forefront of knowing the latest skill sets that candidates have procured, as well as the courses necessary for them to be optimised for candidate conversations. The great thing about how we operate at Grab is that diversity is always top of mind, so our TABPs are often reminded by the business and our tech leaders, and vice versa. This helps set the precedent in ensuring that our hiring standards have no discrimination and provide equal opportunity employment.

Most importantly, these trainings ensure that the TABPs provide a fair and accurate evaluation of each candidate towards the job role they’re looking to hire for. The trainings also allow for them to be wary of using language that might be non-inclusive, or non-verbal cues that might not provide the most comfortable interview environment.

Learning & Development is a very important part of a Grabber’s Lifecycle – how would our TABPs apply their learnings?

These trainings help in their interview and screening sessions with candidates in their pipeline. But they also translate towards a candidate’s first encounter – the job descriptions! When it comes to job descriptions, it’s all about the tone and language. Our job descriptions focus on what makes for an ideal candidate, regardless of demographies. We focus on keeping pronouns neutral (substituting it with “ideal candidate”, “experienced members”) to ensure inclusivity at all times.

Sounds like our TABPs are constantly learning and keeping up with the inclusive language of our times.

Absolutely! But diversity isn’t just about baking inclusive language into the job description. It has to be ingrained into our recruitment marketing funnel from awareness, all the way till the application stage. What this means is that our social media channels (LinkedIn), website (, microsites (for Hiring Drives, Virtual Fairs) are also peppered with inclusive language to ensure all candidates understand our stance on equal opportunity and have a zero-tolerance towards discrimination in the workplace.

Moving past recruitment, how does Grab support and nurture these diverse talent once they are in the door, so that we retain and empower them?

At Grab, our 4Hs (Heart, Humility, Honour and Hunger) serves as our guide to help Grabbers lead, collaborate, solve problems, and support each other through the ups and downs of this journey.

For D&I, the anchor for us is being inclusive, and gender diversity is one element in inclusivity. We nurture this through building stronger connections with one another through our ERGs, the GrabLearn platform to level up our personal development and we even have our own Women at Grab mentoring programs that allow Grabbers to connect with female and male leaders who are diversity champions.

Most importantly we walk the walk and talk the talk – our inclusive behaviours are not only what we do on the inside, but we also practice it on our platform. Our strategic partnership with Digital2 Equal initiative has not only helped us launch our women mentoring programme, but also trained 500,000 Grab driver-partners on sexual harassment and violence prevention training. Around inclusive languages, even our GrabChat messaging app now has profanity filters to protect our partners. Our partners are incredibly diverse – we launched our #breakthesilence movement a couple of years ago where we onboarded deaf partners to thrive and make a living off the Grab app.  The work doesn’t stop there. Diversity and inclusion needs to be a consistent, conscious effort.

For example, as we’re building our new HQ in Singapore, we’re rethinking of the whole workplace from an inclusion lens. For example, we are looking to integrate our employees’ personal/family needs with the workplace such as friendly and accessible nursing rooms, as well as our own canteen! Through our love of food – we ensure that all Grabbers are represented within our food court. Diversity is definitely a key highlight: from providing halal to vegetarian food vendors, we are inclusive to our Grabbers, as well as our environment – with an aim to promote the 3Rs: Reduce, Reuse & Recycle.

So for us at Grab – it’s really around practicing what we preach.

In a global talent landscape, how do you counteract comments like “we just hire or promote the best person for the job, regardless of gender”? How do you ensure that you navigate discussions around the importance of gender diversity in the workplace, whilst avoiding accusations of tokenism?

As I’ve mentioned earlier, we do hire for the impact that the person can bring and if their behaviours are in line with our company culture. Concurrently, diversity is also primed at the forefront of our minds. Historically, Country Head positions have been predominated by males. So when we go through the hiring process for such roles, we look first, are they capable – yes, do they fit the company culture – yes. Happen to be female? – absolutely! When we think about promotions and succession planning – we think about this actively too. What do our future leaders look like?

Having a good understanding of the role and the market (both external and internal candidates), we can have better discussions. We have a saying at Grab “seek to understand before being understood” – to avoid such accusations we must equip ourselves with knowledge to have such debates.

While promotions and hires are based on scope/skills fit, we must also be conscious of the message we’re sending out subconsciously by hiring one over the other. While Grab is blind to gender and race, it’s less on what we’re saying, but more on what we’re doing. As such, each hire goes through a panel of recruiters and hiring managers to ensure that all hires are fairly evaluated and biases (if any) are identified.

Tash, you’re commonly known as the “Chief Happiness Officer” at Grab. Can you tell us about the link between happiness and engagement and inclusion, and what that means for you?

My role at Grab is to ensure that Grabbers are excited to come into work everyday and are proud of the work that they do.

We look at Engagement and Inclusion through three main pillars – by strengthening social bonds and inclusion for our employees, constantly reigniting their sense of purpose and one of my personal favourites: removing annoyances!

An employee’s connection to an organisation starts from before day 1 – what is the reputation of the organisation, what are the employees saying on Glassdoor, what are their friends saying? At Grab, we are strong believers in “if we double down on the inside, the outside can take care of itself”. An employee who feels connected to the values of the organisation, can bring their whole self to work and produce work at an optimal productivity level – making one happy employee. One happy employee is more likely to refer their friends and family to work at Grab.

In short, being Chief Happiness Officer allows me to cultivate culture in a way that delivers impact more than just what someone’s getting paid for, more than their job title. I get to engage with them from the time they wake up and influence how they interact with our partners, merchants, consumers and even their team.

This was an amazing sharing session Chief Happiness Officer Tash!

Anytime! Meanwhile, stay safe and be kind.

Are you looking to join a company that embraces diversity, while still driving Southeast Asia forward? Check out our open roles today!