Women make up approximately half the population in Singapore. However, only 21% hold senior positions. This is according to the Gender Diversity Benchmark for Asia 2011, issued by Community Business.
According to the study, approximately 43.3% of the workforce of the participating Singapore companies consist of women. On average, 54.2% of their total workforce consist of women taking on junior level roles. At the mid-level, the proportion declines to 39.7% and dwindles to 21.5% at the senior level.
In the Singapore Board Diversity Report 2012 – The Female Factor issued by the Centre for Governance, Institutions & Organisations, NUS Business School (CGIO), Singapore lags behind other developed countries and neighbours like Hong Kong, Australia and China in terms of female representation in boards.
Norway, which topped the list, has women making up 40% of boards. Singapore only had 7.3% of female representation in the boardroom, lower than Hong Kong (10.3%), Australia (13.8%) and China (8.5%). On the other hand, Singapore has the highest percentage of all male boards in Asia. The report also reveals that female directors in Singapore were predominantly ethnic Chinese (89.6%). Malay female directors had the lowest representation at 0.3%.
Company culture is not something that can be changed overnight and it requires rigorous education and a consciousness to help fellow citizens live happy, productive and healthy lives. In this regard, we think that it is in the interest of Singapore companies to relook into their policies and culture to retain women talent, amid a tightening labor market.”
Analysis by Singapore company formation specialist Rikvin shows that societal, cultural and personal factors contribute to the decision to stay in the workforce and continue climbing up the corporate ladder. In a critical article called Why Women Still Can’t Have It All, Anne-Marie Slaughter, the first female director of policy planning for the U.S. State Department, divulged the challenges of juggling a career and familial responsibilities. She added that the myth that women can do and have it all propels women to feel incompetent if they don’t meet this high bar.
Weighing in on the issue, Ms. Christine Lim, General Manager of Rikvin said, “Last year, the discussion to increase Singapore maternity leave from four to six months were stymied by employers. It remains a challenge for many who return to work, to take time off to take care of their children without compromising their work ambitions. In addition, some employers are not pleased when employees go on longer leave, such as maternity leave, as it requires manpower reorganization, training costs and disruption to the flow of work. Company culture is not something that can be changed overnight and it requires rigorous education and a consciousness to help fellow citizens live happy, productive and healthy lives. In this regard, we think that it is in the interest of Singapore companies to relook into their policies and culture to retain female talent, amid a tightening labor market.”