STEM will stymie gender inequality this year

We believe 2020 will be a significant year for gender equality, especially for the traditionally male-dominated STEM workforce.

2019 was a year with recognition and advocacy towards diversity and inclusion in the workplace, galvanised by women’s voices on social media. We saw the highest percentage of women in senior management on record at 29% and the biggest increase in the proportion of women in executive roles, according to Grant Thornton’s Women in Business report .

The past year saw the financial services sector undertake more effort in hiring women as compared to four years ago. More women are assuming senior roles along with increased diversity at the top, such as Tan Su Shan, Head of Institutional Banking at DBS; Nithya Navaratnam, Head of Credit Risk and Global Head of Product Control at Goldman Sachs; Agnes Koh, Chief Risk Officer at SGX and Deborah Ho, Head of Blackrock.

Our clients are also increasingly upfront with us about gender diversity, emphasising a greater need for increased female representation in male dominated sectors like Technology, Corporate & Investment Banking and Data Science.

While 2019 showed great strides towards narrowing gender gaps across various industries, women in Asia continue to encounter a glass ceiling when trying to reach the company boardroom, where female representation remains low. There needs to be concrete change in workplaces along with a clear focus in establishing programs and talent pipelines in order to support diversity across all industries including financial services.

Flexible Working Arrangements
As many financial institutions have moved their company systems to a cloud-based platform, working mothers can enjoy the freedom to work remotely from home while being physically present for their child.

Maternity and Paternity Leave
We are also seeing a growing number of firms who not only provide mothers maternity leave but also expanding parental leave to include men. While Singapore’s mandatory maternity leave is 16 weeks, more firms are offering more than the assigned leave days as a benefit, and providing more flexibility around unpaid leave to allow mothers to enjoy more time with their newborns before returning to work. 

Mother-friendly Work Spaces
More bigger organisations even partner with day cares and childcare centres, offering corporate rates for certain childcare institutions located near the offices to make it more affordable and easier for working parents.

Increased Advocacy Amongst Senior Female Leaders
As role models, senior female leaders should share ideas and drive equal opportunities for women in the workforce through seminars, conferences and mentorship opportunities. We are heartened to see many organisations in Singapore such as 100 Women in Finance   and Financial Women’s Association of Singapore   equipping women with opportunities to expand their network through industry events and other platforms.

As we continue to see companies create momentum towards gender balance, we are confident that 2020 will prove to be a transformational year with more opportunities being optimised by women and key stakeholders becoming active enablers towards accelerating the gender parity in Singapore and Asia as a whole.

The Author is  Team Lead – Risk, Legal, Compliance & IT Recruitment at Selby Jennings, Singapore