Singapore firms making “good progress” on gender equality

by Miklos Bolza10 Mar 2016
“There is a trend in women increasingly occupying senior HR roles such as CHROs,” Erman Tan, president of the Singapore Human Resources Institute (SHRI), told HRD. “As the profile of the workforce has shifted upwards in skills, knowledge and education, so have women’s employability and leadership opportunities.”
 
He noted this shift is due to society’s evolution with how it accepts modern life choices, as well as the implementation of better work-life policies and enhanced leadership training.
 
“Given that Singapore is a fairly young nation, a lot of good progress has been made and continues to be made,” he added.
 
For instance, figures from the World Economic Forum have shown the number of women in the workforce has jumped by 15% over the past 10 years.
 
Amongst chief executives, women make up 15% of the total share, according to Credit Suisse. This is the highest rate in Asia and the third highest in the developed world, Tan said.
 
However, there are still some barriers which stop women from moving up the ladder into more senior positions, he acknowledged.
 
“Typically, the most common reasons for women’s careers not advancing as quickly as men, include parental duties, work-life integrations matters, traditional mind sets and gender stereotypical expectations.”
 
Tan said that HR needs to focus on a number of key areas in order to bring equality for women into the workplace and ultimately help the nation’s economy progress.
 
“Companies need to continue implementing flexible work arrangements and adopting HR practices that allow women to be considered fairly for jobs at all levels,” he said.
 
“We must provide better career progression opportunities to not only help them and advance their career, but which are also sensitive to their competing interests outside of the workplace.”
 
It is also essential to encourage greater participation in leadership training by women, he added. This will help them acquire general knowledge in management, gain networking opportunities and learn vital skills to climb the corporate ladder.
 
Raising awareness of potential female leaders by profiling and spotlighting future talent is also essential to achieving equality, he noted.
 
“We must work together to further change cultural mind-sets as the nation progresses,” he said.
 
Taking this approach will help tackle important areas in which Singapore is now lacking, he added. For instance, women are still paid on average 10% less than men for doing the same job in most sectors, according to Ministry of Manpower figures.
 
Singapore firms also lag behind their Asian counterparts in terms of female participation on management boards with women making up only 8% of roles. This number increased from 406 in 2013 to 448 in 2014 – a 10% increase according to Singapore’s Diversity Action Committee.
 
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