Prosperity, Planet

Debora Tjandrakusuma, Nestle Indonesia: “Gender-balance is the main focus of our diversity & inclusion strategy”

Responsible Business | Sep 22, 2016


In the world where investors and consumers have an increased understanding and awareness for sustainable development, the companies are facing a growing demand for meeting their expectations. Many of the world’s leading companies already have embedded sustainable principles into their business operations considering their environmental, economic, social and cultural footprints.

In the recognition of winning 2 awards in the Sustainable Business Awards Indonesia 2016*, we interviewed Ms. Debora Tjandrakusuma, Legal & Corporate Affairs Director of Nestle Indonesia, regarding Nestle’s sustainability strategies which are combining efforts for environmental protection and social values, especially for women empowerment and sustainable supply chain development.

In the Sustainable Business Awards, there are 12 categories ranging from environment, social to corporate management initiatives. You won the “Best Workforce” and “Best Waste Management” – were these the awards that you were expecting to get recognized in or were you surprised with your win?

It is such an honor for us to receive two awards this year. Nestlé Indonesia has been working over years in creating shared value for the society where we operate and we do these based on compliance and sustainability. Our employees are our assets and our very important stakeholders, therefore we have been working to develop our employees by providing a work place that enables them to develop their skills and career to become the best and motivated workforce. It has been Nestlé’s policy to ensure sustainability in our operations, and this of course includes how we manage waste; our aim is to be a company with zero waste, and we have made many efforts to continuously improve our performance in managing waste and to operate efficiently. We are happy to receive such recognition, we hope that these awards encourage us to do even better in the future and inspire others to provide better environment for their employees and consider environmental sustainability as key drivers for their business.

Nestle Indonesia has committed to be a gender-balanced company, particularly in senior leadership roles – where you yourself are a great example! How have you found working in Nestle for all these years, being a woman, and have you ever encountered any glass-ceilings or gender-specific obstacles?

I joined Nestlé Indonesia in 1986 as a legal assistant and my career has progressed since then. One of the things I love about Nestlé is how our company commits to providing the same growth opportunity for our employees regardless of their gender, origin, nationality, religion, race, age or sexual orientation.

Over the years the Company has provided me with opportunities and challenges that enable me to develop myself and my career in the Company. I have never felt discriminated being a woman.

In 2003, I had the opportunity to work at Nestlé Headquarters in Vevey, Switzerland, where I was exposed to work with various international organizations and issue management. These experiences have helped me to understand and to view issues from different perspectives. I returned to Indonesia in 2006, and with newly developed skills, I was trusted again to lead the Legal and Corporate Affairs function until today. I thank the company for always being supportive of my professional growth and, at the same time, enabling me to lead a fulfilling life as a wife and mother of three.

Could you tell us a bit more about the gender policies and programs that Nestle Indonesia is running?

Based on Nestlé Corporate Business Principle on Human Rights and our Nestlé Code of Business Conduct, we embrace diversity and respect the personal dignity, privacy and personal rights of every employee and are committed to maintaining a workplace free from discrimination and harassment. Therefore, employees must not discriminate on the basis of origin, nationality, religion, race, gender, age or sexual orientation, or engage in any kind of verbal or physical harassment based on any of the above or any other reason.

Nestlé also believes that leveraging our diversity and inclusion will bring significant value to our company and support us in our ambition to enhance the quality of people’s lives. Gender-balance remains the main focus of our diversity & inclusion strategy. We are seeing improvements in the percentage of women at every level in the company. In Nestlé Indonesia, the gender-balance initiative has taken place since 6 years ago. Since then, Nestlé Indonesia has doubled the number of woman managers to 36% and woman board of directors to 26%. In addition, from the 50% initial target of women employees in head office, Nestlé Indonesia has surpassed this aspiration to 73%.

At the leadership level, we aim to have always one woman successor for key positions in the Company. Some of the initiatives to encourage gender balance include maternal protection policy that enable women in the company to take longer maternity leave, facilities that enable women to develop their career such as breastfeeding rooms, transportation for women workers during night shift at the factories, and flexible working time in the head office. We are also celebrating International Women’s Day annually by give recognition to inspiring Nestlé Indonesia women leaders nominated by their colleagues. During Idul Fitri celebration, we try to accommodate employees’ need to spend more time with their families by organizing a Pop Up Day Care for 3 weeks for the children of our employees at our Head Office.

What is the next big target you hope to reach?

By 2018, Nestlé across the world, including in Indonesia, will establish a global Maternity Protection Policy, which gives employees a minimum of 14 weeks paid maternity leave and the right to extend their maternity leave up to nine months. This will be applicable to all primary caregivers of newborns, including male employees and adoptive parents. We try to create accommodative environment for parents to be able to work and maintain a balanced life with their family.

The 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals have many objectives which are of importance to Nestle as well. Which ones do you personally like to contribute towards achieving, which ones are the most important to you?

Most of the 17 UN SDGs are in line with our priorities as a company too. I believe those goals are important but I personally would like to contribute more towards ending poverty (#1) through our collaboration with farmers and communities, achieving quality education (#4) through our various education programs such as Nestlé Healthy Kids, gender equality (#5), clean water and sanitation (#6), affordable and clean energy (biogas) as well as sustainable cities and communities (#11) and climate action (#13).

*The Sustainable Business Awards (SBA) is a unique and important resource for businesses aiming to increase awareness of sustainable business best-practices and demonstrate how sustainable business benefits companies, the environment and all stakeholders. The SBA methodology combines the best features of benchmarking and awards processes globally to deliver green strategy and business advantage. Global Initiatives established the Sustainable Business Awards in 2012 to assist companies in sustainable business practice, integrate this into strategy and operations; and to continuously improve and report on progress. The SBA Indonesia is organized in collaboration with the sustainability advisor PwC, Kadin Indonesia and the Indonesia Business Council for Sustainable Development.


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