"Why is diversity important?" answered by CREW (Coupang Rocket Engagement Women)
Coupang employees are proactive. Rather than just carrying out tasks assigned to them, they continue to develop and enhance their skills, thereby ensuring the growth of not only themselves as individuals and of the entire org. CREW (Coupang Rocket Engagement Women), Coupang’s newly launched all women's group, is another good example of a win-win between Coupang and its employees.
EHS, short for Environment, Health and Safety, is the team in charge of Coupang’s environment, health, and safety as the name suggests. In comparison to the Q3 of 2020, female members in the EHS team have now doubled, and the team members shared a strong need for career development. It all started with a small idea – what if we build a network for females? Small as it might be, it could have borne fruit as there was a conviction that diversity inside an org directly leads to innovation and performance of the company. Diversity does not mean anti-male or anti-anyone – the whole of the team will only be successful with the inclusion of everyone.
We met with Claire and Avril who are operating CREW, Coupang’s female employee group.
Hi, Claire and Avril. Please introduce EHS’ role at Coupang as there may be some people who may not know what you do.
Avril: Simply put, EHS is an “environment safety team.” You can assume that our team is responsible for safety in Coupang, such as the prevention of industrial accidents. We are providing advice on safety technologies or technical standards for facilities. Each Coupang warehouse has different environments and conditions, and associates have various needs, so we are doing our best to provide the right prescriptions for different issues.
EHS is the team where the female employee group named CREW was born, supporting leadership and competence-related development for female employees at Coupang. Please introduce CREW.
Claire: Due to the nature of EHS’ work, we have more male employees than females. Therefore, there has been a call that, in terms of diversity, it would be a good idea for women in EHS to develop more capabilities and to have more female leaders. The women’s group is also intended to reinforce networking between female employees and pursue strong communication through collaboration.
The name ‘CREW’ was made through an internal selection process by our team members. The CREW committee and the group itself are being run by voluntary support of the female members.
I don’t think there are many companies in Korea with a female employee group. What motivated you to create the group?
Claire: Our executive sponsors VP Ryan and Deputy General Counsel Rachel provided enormous help. He has been highly interested in diversity and inclusion. He has a firm belief that diversity makes a healthy organization.
During an interview with female employees on diversity, I was proposed to have a regular meeting of women in EHS. The group started with Avril and me, but more members joined through different channels. Now CREW has nearly 50 members.
What is CREW’s plan for 2021?
Avril: In our first meeting, members of CREW set individual goals on what they should look like in 5 years, 10 years, and 15 years. This year’s target is to have all CREW members achieve their personal goals.
We will have a monthly meeting, and “trainings to develop ourselves” will always be the most important agenda. We have invited a female writer Ms. Lee Eun-joo recently, and we are trying to conduct trainings systematically by setting up a proper curriculum that consists of around 5 sessions.
Claire: Not only through lectures of brilliant speakers but through newsletters, we are sharing the latest female trends with our members. We also invite members’ feedback following lectures and incorporate it in our undertaking. The CREW committee, consisting of eight members responsible for newsletters, general affairs, lectures, member management, etc., are happy to work for the group (laugh).
CREW hosted its first lecture back in March. What was the topic? How was the lecture received, and were there many participants?
Avril: The lecture was given via Zoom. But since it was the first program, we did have some points that require further improvement. EHS is responsible for safety and health, so there are times that we face unexpected tasks that must be resolved swiftly. Although there were some members who had to miss the lecture, most of the participants shared the feedback that it was a very fruitful session.
CREW also invites Coupang’s female leaders to share their stories as a role model, on top of hosting lectures delivered by outsiders.
Most recently, CREW invited Helen, VP of Coupang, as a mentor to give a lecture. Helen joined Coupang as Retail BM and shared the early days of Rocket Delivery. She is also the person who launched Coupang’s pet category, which became the largest pet-related shopping channel both online and offline.
Helen recollected the past days when she built up her career as a working mom. Helen said, “I also didn’t think I could remain at work for so long. But I enjoyed my work, and I felt responsible for it. That is how I was able to reach this point.” She also provided helpful advice to the audience. “Everyone faces a crisis. You need to look far into the future and hang in there.”
The audience showed enthusiastic responses to the personal experiences shared by the female leader. Even after the lecture, Helen was peppered with various questions including “What is your knowledge of career management that drove you from an assistant to VP,” “How did you direct the challenges you faced as a woman during your career in a positive direction?”
It seems the fundamental reason that such a group could be created is Coupang’s female-friendly culture. I’m curious about employee benefits or corporate culture.
Avril: Any female Coupang employee can be benefited from various policies such as menstrual leave, maternal leave, and infertility treatment leave, and male employees can also take the advantage of the policies such as short working hours for childcare, childbirth leave, paternal leave, or other policies for the protection of maternity.
We have been running a “female CPF care center” starting the end of last year. CPF stands for Coupang Friends, which refers to the delivery people who deliver Rocket Delivery products to customers’ doorstep. The female CPF care center is a consulting center within the company to help female CPF. Apart from the consultation, the center is also planning to conduct gender equality training as well as other various activities to improve gender sensitivity.
I was told there are about 50 members in CREW. Compared to Coupang’s total headcount, it seems it still is a small group. What is your plan going forward?
Avril: CREW is for EHS only as of now, but if this year’s CREW activities are completed successfully, then CREW will bear some symbolic meaning as the female group in Coupang, which may have a positive influence on other female employees to create another female group. I heard that the Tech organization has also created a female group recently, and I hope these female groups can communicate actively with each other.
Claire: It is our consideration to have active networking not only inside Coupang but with women groups in other companies. Our goal this year is to build networking with a women’s group in another company’s EHS team. We already had a preliminary meeting for it, and the current plan is to start networking between the two groups around the end of this year.
I think your perspective on Coupang as a workplace might have changed a bit while arranging and hosting the session. As a closing comment, please share your thoughts on what kind of company Coupang is to you.
Avril: Local safety managers are mostly on fixed terms. But in Coupang, I feel that I can be the leader too if I can develop my capabilities and talent because all employees are eligible for promotion and are treated equally. Although I am a working mom, I feel like I can also become a leader in this company if I work hard, deliver results, and think outside the box. This place makes me dream.
Also, CREW meetings were refreshing, giving me the morale to work harder. I am enjoying both work and CREW activities.
Claire: Of course, it could be different for each team, but EHS is a particularly work-oriented organization. Our leadership ensures that each of the team members can unlock their capabilities as much as they want. I feel that there are a lot of opportunities in our team.
As you know, so many companies have a conservative culture, rejecting anything that employees wish to do apart from their assigned tasks. Coupang is different, actively encouraging such additional activities and commending employees’ attitudes towards building more capabilities. That is why I am so satisfied with working for Coupang.
Coupang embraces diversity and inclusion as employees all come from different backgrounds. Coupang tries to create an environment where employees can be themselves and put more effort to scale the female capacity and their passion.
If you are interested in Coupang’s culture, please visit our Diversity at Coupang page to learn more.