While Singapore may be a strong regional hub, it still has a lot of room for improvement when it comes to female representation.
Community Business’ Gender Diversity Benchmark for Asia 2014 report, which was sponsored by Bank of America Merrill Lynch, found Singapore’s overall representation of women falls in the bottom half of the results at 48.2%, ranking it fourth among sixth countries.
Even though Singapore has achieved gender parity at junior levels (58.5%), it is still struggling at the middle (40.6%) and senior levels (23.7%) – lower than the regional average of 24.3%.
“The biggest leak in the pipeline remains between middle to senior level positions, with an average 41.6% drop in the representation of women between these levels,” the report said.
Overall, Malaysia fared the best in terms of average representation of women in the whole workforce with 58.1%, followed by China (56.7%) and Hong Kong (50.9%). The only two countries which came in behind Singapore were Japan (42.6%) and India 26.6%).
“Women are key to the growth and sustainability for our business as well as the countries in which our business operates,” Ralph de Chabert, chief diversity officer at Brown-Forman, another sponsor of the report, said.
“That means many of our mental models related to women in the workplace must not only change, but it is essential that men play a role in that process.”
The results also suggested the mere existence of policies and programmes may not always equate to better gender representation. For example, Japan and India offer strong support to working parents, yet both ranked at the bottom of the list.
“Similarly, companies in Malaysia offer the shortest maternity leave and the least support to women in the form of women’s networks, on-ramping support and professional development – yet Malaysia performs well on all data points,” the report said.
Fern Ngai, CEO of Community Business added “bringing about change requires multifaceted efforts from different sectors and on different aspects”.
“Overall these gradually improving numbers show that moving the needle and achieving greater gender balance, if not gender parity at all levels, is indeed an achievable goal in Asia,” she said.