A s part of a global enterprise, HEINEKEN Lanka has built a reputation for being diverse and multicultural, propagating an inclusive environment, which is a key enabler for its growing tribe of female employees. Four of its top women professionals share what makes them look forward to each workday.

Malisa Amarakoon – Head of Legal, comments on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts: “HEINEKEN fulfils its DEI commitment through its ‘EverGreen’ strategy, which sets out clear targets and road maps to create an inclusive, fair and equitable workplace – aligned to its commitment to ‘Brew a Better World’.”

She is proud of the company’s strong gender balance target: 30 percent women by 2025 and 40 percent by 2030, affirming: “As a woman, being married and a mother, I was appointed as Head of the Legal Department in a tough industry – a good example of how HEINEKEN drives DEI.”

Amarakoon believes organisations can do a lot to address the loss of women employees at mid-career.

“At HEINEKEN, we believe in ‘ally-ships,’ understanding needs and then tailoring them to the individual. Apart from a new expanded parental leave policy with additional support to the birthing parent, we can access flexible work and career opportunities, both within the country and beyond, which support employees at all stages of their careers,” she affirms.

In her own words: “HEINEKEN is closing the gender gap, starting with attracting the right people and recruiting without unconscious bias.” Amarakoon affirms that “more women are entering the supply chain, which was perceived as a ‘masculine’ role, which is a great trend.”

Sharing her professional journey, Ishara Herath – Senior Laboratory Analyst says: “HEINEKEN offers me various opportunities to enhance my career. The annual performance cycle embeds personal development conversations where progress against behaviours and potential is tracked. We then work on a development plan, which is monitored. Additional incentives help us to grow professionally.”

About the alcohol industry, she says: “Women must contend with archaic laws in Sri Lanka. For example, women can’t legally sell alcohol, coupled with stigma related to the industry. I am proud of the fact that HEINEKEN globally encourages moderation. It would be good if the government supports these innovations and allows Sri Lankans to enjoy life more responsibly.”

Mentorship is a unique opportunity offered by HEINEKEN. “A great coach or mentor opens your vision so you can progress and provide women with the confidence to take on larger roles,” Herath enthuses.

“Also, HEINEKEN walks the talk – with strong female leaders in its top management. Employees in Sri Lanka can connect internationally with both global and regional peers to see how we can improve,” Herath reveals.

Samindhi Unamboowe – Revenue Manager, makes a case for inclusion: “Research shows that the more inclusive and diverse your organisation is, the better its performance. Also, a company where the organisational setup reflects the outer world is likely to be better positioned to cater to its customers’ needs.”

“Our people are encouraged to live our HEINEKEN values of passion for consumers and customers, have the courage to dream and pioneer, care for people and the planet, and enjoy life. HEINEKEN employees often feel passionate about their purpose – it energises us,” she affirms.

Unamboowe continues: “One way to eliminate stereotyping roles based on gender is to encourage more females to take up careers in the tech and engineering fields. HEINEKEN supports women to pave a unique pathway with the ability to make cross functional shifts – for example, from Human Resources to Finance.”

“Internationally, HEINEKEN looks for every opportunity to spark fresh and meaningful connections, and celebrate the world’s diversity through a creative and innovative lens – with campaigns such as ‘Cheers to all’ that challenges gender stereotypes in relation to drinking beer; the recent ‘Cheers to all fans’ campaign in the lead up to the UEFA Women’s EURO; and the introduction of nonalcoholic beer, which gives consumers more choice,” she asserts.

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