How to support gender equality and women's empowerment in the workplace

By Robert Half on 18 March 2024

In recognition of Women's History Month and International Women’s Day, Robert Half conducted a survey in March 2024 among 107 hiring managers in Singapore to find out what organisations are doing to support gender equality and women's empowerment in the workplace.

According to the survey, 64% of companies in Singapore have policies, guidelines or initiatives to foster gender diversity within their organisation and 93% state that having a gender diverse workforce has a positive impact on staff retention.

But true gender equality remains elusive.

The United Nations reported that women still participate less in the job market and are more likely to have vulnerable employment.

When hiring managers in Singapore were asked what the biggest challenges are that women face in the workplace, 70% pointed to work-life balance issues, followed by gender bias (51%), limited access to leadership positions (45%) and lack of equal pay (41%).

Business leaders are in agreement that increased efforts and actions are needed to tackle gender inequality in the workplace.

Almost seven in 10 (68%) hiring managers in Singapore believe that offering leadership development programs for women is key to ensure equal opportunities for women in leadership positions, closely followed by providing mentoring and networking opportunities (67%), establishing clear diversity goals and metrics (62%), and implementing diversity and inclusion training programs (54%).

When asked about how their organisation supports gender equality and women's empowerment in the workplace, here are some of the trends identified:

1. Promote diversity in leadership

Several business leaders have taken steps to increase female representation in leadership roles by working with gender quotas and developing leadership training programs.

2. Encourage inclusivity in hiring

Including female leaders in recruitment activities, ranging from the job design phase to ensure job vacancies resonate with a female audience, to implementing diverse interview panels and employee branding activities aimed at positioning the organisation as an employer of choice amongst women exemplifies efforts of how companies in Singapore aim to address gender inequality right from the outset of the recruitment process.

3. Education, upskilling and development

Funding training programs, making them more accessible and promoting upskilling initiatives to women in the organisation was another key action point mentioned in the survey.

In certain locations, the organisation also offers financial literacy workshops, vocational training and mentorship programs designed to empower women to start their own businesses.

4. Empower women in technology

Companies with goals to boost female representation in technology roles organise workshops, mentorship sessions and coding challenges to inspire women interested in technology.

5. Create family-friendly policies

Many business leaders emphasised the importance of implementing family-friendly policies, including providing parental support groups and flexible working hours or flexi-time aimed at facilitating a balance between work and family responsibilities.

6. Ethical communications

The importance of ethical and inclusive communication, both internally and externally, was highlighted to ensure that messages are inclusive and resonate with all employees.

7. Identify and remove systemic barriers and (un)conscious bias

Respondents highlighted the ongoing necessity of identifying and addressing systemic barriers and biases in the workplace that are an obstacle to women's professional development.

8. Mentoring and allyship

Initiatives such as mentoring programs, allyship between genders and panel discussions to learn more about individuals' experiences and inspirational stories were mentioned as efficient strategies.

Importantly, it was mentioned that having male allies actively participate in initiatives aimed at promoting gender equality demonstrates a collective effort towards inclusivity.

Even though building a gender inclusive workplace can bring multiple benefits to a company, there is still a long way to go to achieve gender equality in the workplace.

Companies, however, are increasingly taking steps to address inequalities in the workplace.

These steps can require resources and it may take time to become fully embedded in the organisation, but it is imperative that we continue to push for systemic change, overcome barriers and create working environments where everyone, regardless of gender, has equal opportunities to thrive and succeed.

Only through continued efforts and collective action on a large scale can we achieve true gender equality.

In 2023, for the fifth consecutive year, Robert Half has been named to the Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index (GEI) for its commitment to advancing women’s equality and transparency in gender reporting and the Forbes’ Best Employers for Diversity in recognition of its diversity efforts. Robert Half is also a signatory to the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) and the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs) to advance gender equality.

More From the Blog...