Promoting Gender Diversity and Inclusion in the Workforce
In the Global Gender Gap Report 2020 compiled by the World Economic Forum, Singapore improved 13 notches to rank 54th out of 153 countries.
Increasingly, companies in Singapore are realising the importance of gender diversity in the workplace, as more women are included on boards and in key leadership positions. While these are steps in the right direction, what more can employers or employees do to ensure that women are well-represented and included; that policies and workplace practices are conducive for women to be treated respectfully and equally?
These questions were answered at the second edition of WoW: In Conversation by a distinguished panel of alumnae – Guest-of-Honour, Mrs Josephine Teo (Arts and Social Sciences ’90), Minister for Manpower & Second Minister for Home Affairs; Ms Lyn Lee (Arts and Social Sciences ’89), Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer of Royal Dutch Shell; Dr Vandana Ramachandran (Science (PhD) ’03), Co-founder of Singapore Women in Science; and Ms Georgette Tan (Arts and Social Sciences ’82), President of United Women Singapore. Moderated by Dr Intan Azura Mokhtar (Science ’98, Public Policy ’08), Member of the NUS Alumni Advisory Board, over 150 alumni, students and staff attended the virtual session held on 10 March.
Mrs Josephine Teo inaugurated the night’s events with a speech that reminded attendees how everyone has a part to play in forging gender parity — that only with inclusive behaviours and tangible action will change happen. She commended educational institutions such as NUS that are actively contributing to the dialogue on gender equality, and encouraged more alumnae to step up and embrace opportunities to inspire others. With 2021 dedicated as the Year of Celebrating SG Women, WoW: In Conversation was well-timed to deep-dive into the multi-faceted issues faced by women in the workforce.
During the robust discussion, which centred on the importance of Gender Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace, panellists candidly shared their personal challenges to become successful in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields that were typically dominated by their male peers. “It’s not about competence, it’s about building [their] confidence”, Ms Georgette Tan proclaimed. Ms Lyn Lee agreed, emphasising that women should not falter when labelled “too loud” or “too opinionated”, but instead build an innate confidence and belief in their own abilities and skills. Dr Vandana also mentioned that, with good role models, they will be a morale-booster for younger ladies to aspire towards.
As the discussion veered to what more companies could do to promote inclusion in the workplace, panellists agreed that companies should come up with family-friendly policies that addressed not only the concerns of women, but also the considerations of men. Particularly, it was important to assuage the fears of men that their positions will not be replaced nor will they lose out to their peers if they choose
to fulfil their parental duties.
As with the previous edition of WoW
, the audience kept the panellists fully occupied, with them agreeing to take on more questions via e-mail. Stay tuned for more insights in the next issue of The Alum