Learning & Development Asia 2024
Investing in women: Driving gender diversity and inclusion at the workplace

Investing in women: Driving gender diversity and inclusion at the workplace

Businesses that have recognised the vital role women play in their success, and have made efforts to invest in female talent, have benefitted from a sustained talent pool and sharpened their competitive edge, Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP) notes.

In a world where there is a US$360bn annual deficit in financing gender equality measures, organisations can do their part by investing in women today.

This is especially apt for this year’s edition of International Women’s Day (IWD), themed 'Invest in women: Accelerate progress'. We learn from organisations in Singapore who are committed towards growing and nurturing their pool of female talent and have led the way in supporting female talent and cultivating gender diversity in a sustainable manner.

1. Invest in fair and inclusive hiring

Fair and progressive firms committed towards supporting female talent start from the hiring phase. Apart from a fair and transparent recruitment process, they focus on inclusive hiring strategies to support women in entering industries or job fields that they typically are underrepresented in.

For example, in 2019, DBS extended its annual hackathon to hire tech talent, introducing Hack2Hire-Her to recruit more females in a male-dominated sector. As a result, the number of female applications increased by over 30% compared to 5% in the previous years, and the number of jobs offered to women as of 2020 also increased about five times.

Not only does this mean they reap the benefits of having a diverse workforce that include better decision-making, greater creativity, and innovation due to multiple perspectives, it supports the growth of the talent pool to build a sustainable workforce.

2. Invest in mentoring and training

Beyond hiring, such organisations invest in targeted strategies to support female employees in their career development. An example is mentoring as an effective method in providing networks and coaching opportunities.

Companies can consider reaching out to external industry professionals for the best insights, such as BoardAgender or Great Place to Work which have great mentoring programmes. The latter offers Growing In Technology (GRIT), which trains women in technology.

It can also be an organisation-wide effort, with companies like Shell and DBS providing their own training programmes for women.

Shell runs a Women’s Career Development Programme, a learning programme for female employees to identify what they want in their professional and personal lives, and the support needed.

In April 2023, DBS partnered with non-profit organisation SG Her Empowerment (SHE) to launch its flagship Women Leadership Programme, with 27 female employees receiving training and mentorship for seven months to unlock their leadership potential. As of 2023, about 40% of senior management staff at DBS are female. This is significantly higher than the average of 24.5% in senior leadership roles in Singapore’s financial institutions in 2021, according to a Deloitte survey.

3. Leading conversations

Progressive firms take the lead in initiating conversations on gender diversity & inclusion (D&I) and addressing issues openly. Beyond increasing awareness on the issues and challenges associated with gender diversity, it builds a greater understanding of the state of D&I at the workplace and how businesses can better support their employees.

DBS not only raises awareness within the workplace, but has also driven conversations on D&I. For example, gender-inclusive workplaces were discussed at a SHE X DBS IWD panel discussion held on 14 March 2023 with Minister for Home Affairs and Law Mr K Shanmugam and DBS Group Head of Institutional Banking Ms Tan Su Shan. The discussion covered the vexed question of implementing quotas to boost the number of women in Singapore boardrooms and how women can gain confidence in their workplace.

Local property company City Developments Limited, through its Women4Green network, also highlights women’s opportunities for participation in a more sustainable future.

As the workforce evolves, diversity becomes more common in organisations, with women playing a vital role in business success. Businesses that have recognised this, and have made efforts to invest in female talent, have benefitted from a sustained talent pool and sharpened their competitive edge.

TAFEP provides information and resources to help employers and HR professionals keep abreast of HR best practices. Visit tafep.sg to find out more.

ALSO READ: How to build a mental health-friendly workplace

Photo: 123RF

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