Singapore Results - Women Less than Satisified with Employers


Over the past 50 years, Singapore has become one of the world’s most prosperous city-states. Having embraced post-colonial independence, it’s now home to a robust trade-based economy and boundless employment opportunities. However, in spite of so much progress, gender equality remains elusive in the country’s workplaces. A survey female employees in Singapore found that 66% had experienced unfair treatment at work.

It’s clear there is room for improvement in Singaporean workplaces. But what exactly needs improving, and how can businesses go about that?

A snapshot of gender inequality

To reduce gender inequality in Singapore and create spaces where everyone feels valued and welcome, it’s essential to understand the extent of the problem. Considering how modern Singapore is, with its high standard of living and above average incomes, the idea that women could be experiencing inequality may sound out of sync. But data doesn’t lie – from wages to advancement opportunities, women are unhappy with several aspects of their working lives.

Job Dissatisfaction

Women in Singapore are amongst the unhappiest employees in the world. According to a report on female professionals in Singapore, only 59% of respondents said they were satisfied with their employers. This is a startling figure when compared with Norway, where 81% of women expressed satisfaction with their employers.

In another study entitled Women in the Workforce, Singaporean women highlighted the following areas as the most challenging in terms of unfair treatment.

  • Advancement opportunities

  • Remuneration

  • Performance recognition

  • Recruitment

The sheer number of women expressing dissatisfaction with their employers demonstrates how widespread the issue of gender inequality is in Singapore. Fortunately, studies like this give employers insights into what is fuelling job dissatisfaction for women.

Work/Life Balance

Despite living in one of the wealthiest countries in the Asia Pacific region, Singaporeans don’t always have it easy. The country’s cost of living is notoriously high, leaving many people with no choice but to focus all their time and energy on work. Most employees (especially those in high paying jobs) are expected to put in extremely long hours, with little room for flexibility. This kind of cutthroat approach may have helped Singapore become an economic powerhouse, but it’s also made it harder for female employees to feel empowered in the workplace.

The lack of a healthy work/life balance has become a widespread problem across Singapore, but it’s especially challenging for women with young children. The Women in the Workforce study gathered the following statistics on working mothers in Singapore:

  • 75% of the country’s working mothers spend less than 10 hours with their children each week.

  • 57% of respondents cited balancing work and family life as the top challenge faced by working mothers.

  • 85% of respondents admitted to feeling guilty for of missing out on aspects of their family’s lives.

  • 70% admitted to enduring an internal “tug-of-war” between needing to earn income and against wanting to stay home in order to be a caregiver.

  • 70% of women said they would give up work altogether if they had the financial means to do so.

With women being forced to choose between their careers and traditional caregiving roles, it’s hardly surprising so many of them are unhappy in the workplace.

Why is it important for women to be happy in the workplace?

If you believe an individual’s happiness is their own responsibility, you may be wondering why you should take steps to improve the situation for women. This isn’t an unreasonable point of view to hold, but there is a case for why you should take it seriously.

Wellbeing was linked to productivity in a 2014 study out of the UK. When treated well, workers were up to 12% more productive than the group who received no additional support, and lower happiness was systematically associated with lower levels of productivity.

So even if you personally believe it’s not your job to boost staff morale, the payback in productivity may be enough to encourage you to implement strategies to support women in the workplace.

The good news

Despite disheartening figures emerging, there are other areas where Singapore is doing well compared to other nations. During the past decade, Singapore has outperformed many other countries in certain gender equality metrics. Women now make up 15% of executive roles in Singapore, which might not seem like an impressive number, but it’s actually the third highest percentage of any country in the world.

However, there’s still plenty of work to be done. To improve the situation for women in the workplace, managers need to take an active role in ensuring they have the tools and resources they need to succeed in their jobs.

Ending inequality through effective leadership

While tackling gender inequality may seem difficult, employers can address the challenges women face in the workplace in a number of ways. These are just some of the tactics leadership teams can use to help ease the current levels of discontent amongst Singapore’s female employees.

  • Lead by example

  • Encourage transparency 

  • Acknowledge your bias 

  • Stop pay disparity experience and value 

Of course, changes to deeply ingrained culture don’t happen overnight. But when managers adopt a growth mindset and commit to change, everyone – including businesses – can benefit.

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