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Tan Chuan-Jin outlines 4 steps for employers to support gender diversity

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Singapore’s Minister for Social and Family Development (MSF) Tan Chuan-Jin has urged Singapore-based corporations to have more female representation on their boards.

He was speaking near the end of a two-day debate on a motion to better support Singaporean women and their aspirations. Encouraging more women to take on corporate leadership roles, Tan shared, was not so much about women’s rights, but a recognition that women bring diverse skill sets, experiences and perspectives.

“Having women in corporate leadership makes good sense for businesses and the economy,” he said. He added that female representation in leadership roles is something that Singapore’s corporation should not ignore any more.

He outlined four key ways employers may help women realise their full potential in the public sphere:

1. Providing more options for our women (and men)

For women, the need to balance career and familial commitments is usually more intense. Thus, flexible work arrangements are vital. The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has introduced the Tripartite Standards on Flexible Arrangements. Employers should offer these options to their employees.

2. Building capacity to support our women (and men)

Working couples who have just started a family may need support in caring for their young children. To increase accessibility of pre-school services, Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) has increased the number of child care places island-wide, especially in estates with more young families. In fact the number of childcare places has increased by more than 40% to about 140,000 since 2012.

3. Facilitating women to leadership positions

MSF has set up a Diversity Action Committee (DAC) in 2014 to build up women’s representation on boards of companies listed on Singapore Exchange and to expand the pool of board-ready women. The aim is for at least one in three women (30%) to hold board seats by 2030. Under the Code of Corporate Governance (CG Code), listed companies are expected to disclose their board diversity policy and their progress towards achieving these objectives.

4. Protecting vulnerable women

Vulnerable groups of women such as single mothers must be supported to overcome particular barriers so that they too can also realise their potential. Unwed mothers have recently been offered the full 16-week maternity leave, and their children are also now eligible for a Child Development Account (CDA).

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