Convening the audiences and respected delegates at the recently held G20 Labour and Employment Ministerial Meeting (LEMM) in Bad Neuenahr, Germany on 18 and 19 May 2017, Minister for Manpower Lim Swee Say spoke about Singapore’s strong support for women growth in three key areas:
Emphasising on improving the quality of female employment, Lim said, “Women should be able to live fulfilling lives, without having to choose between their career and their family, because both are important.”
Lim noted, “Singapore has made steady progress in women employment over the last decade, with rates increasing steadily from 63 percent to 72 percent in the age group of 25 to 64, in comparison to the top 10 OECD countries in terms of female employment rate.”
Secondly, the median wage of women in Singapore has increased by more than 5 percent per annum in the last 10 years, same pace as that of men. This is good but we believe that we can do better because there is still a gender wage gap of 10.3 percent in 2016.
Thirdly, Singaporean workplaces have continued to be family-friendly. The proportion of employees who work in companies offering formal Flexible Work Arrangements has increased from 1 in 2 (56 percent) in 2011 five years ago, to two in three (67 percent) in 2016.
Building upon its strengths, Singapore plans to improve upon women development by focusing on increasing female employment rate further. This can only be achieved by helping more women stay into the workforce, especially working mothers and those women employees who have left jobs, to bring them back to the workforce. This can be achieving by raising the adoption of flexible work arrangements by both the employers and employees.
See: Singapore Encourages Career Opportunities for Women in Tech
For example, companies can offer part-time and job sharing opportunities for those who are not ready yet to return to full-time employment, due to their family care responsibilities.
Secondly, to help more women stay employable and be more future-ready. This can be achieved by helping them learn new skills and be more adaptable, so that they can keep pace with changes in the future economy. This is especially important for those, who have taken a career break due to family commitments.
Lim added, “Our social partners are embarking on a “Returnship” initiative to help Singaporean women re-fresh their skills, re-enter the workforce and transit to new jobs, find new careers. The Government is also providing wage and training support to allow both the employers and employees, to assess each other’s suitability during the transitional period.
Third, MOM urges employers to strengthen HR practices for fair and progressive treatment of employees regardless of their gender. Employers should set clear targets, conduct regular performance assessments and appraise employees fairly based on work outcomes, regardless of whether they are on flexi-load, flexi-time or flexi-place work arrangements. This has been advocated in the advisories and guidelines issued by the Ministry’s social partners.
On a concluding note, Lim reiterates his firm belief stating, “Women should not have to choose between family and career. We should support them to fulfill their aspirations in both. Our commitment is to grow the community of progressive employers to engender an even more supportive and conducive workplace for Singapore women.”
Also read: Empowering Women to Succeed through their Life’s Journey: Exclusive Q&A with Darren Rushworth at SAP Singapore