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How women are driving the new work agenda
International Women’s Day (IWD) was celebrated on 8 March with the theme “Balance for Better”. Many Singaporean businesses and organisations participated in women’s leadership events and, overall, demonstrated an acknowledgement of how far we still have to go to achieve true gender equality.
While the movement has had more coverage in recent years, the motivation behind establishing IWD can be traced as far back as February 1908 in New York City where thousands of women, who were garment workers, went on strike and marched through the city to protest against poor working conditions. Following this were countless consequential IWD demonstrations including those in Russia and the suffragettes movement in the United Kingdom for the right to vote.
Fast-forward to today and there have been a number of achievements supporting and improving equal rights for women all over the world. But it’s apparent this work is far from being done.
Diversity and inclusion at Michael Page Singapore
As a business, Michael Page Singapore has an overall female to male gender ratio of 58% to 42%. When you look at the level of manager and above, the female to male gender ratio actually goes up to 62% to 38%. Overall, Singapore is doing well, but as Managing Director Nilay Khandelwal pointed out, “We are doing well within Asia, but when you look at diversity in its true sense, getting the numbers in is just one part of the story. The other part of the story is to create an environment that makes everyone feel inclusive. A variety of perspectives make a great team even greater.”
Globally, PageGroup’s internal committee [email protected] was launched in 2012 and set out global targets around gender diversity and initiatives to create a more supportive working environment for women, as well as ensuring female talent is supported and retained within the business.
Support for women throughout Singapore
Here are some key organisations in Singapore that work hard to promote and empower women in Singapore and across the region, not just on IWD, but every day throughout the year. They are proof that women are driving a new, inclusive agenda at work and in their careers.
Dress for Success
This organisation focuses on empowering women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire and development tools for women to thrive at work. In honour of international women’s day, Dress for Success organised the event “Your Hour Her Power” in which women in Singapore and across the globe donated one hour of their salary towards the organisation and women-inspired goals.
Singapore Council of Women’s Organisations (SCWO)
This organisation works towards the idea of ‘Equal Space, Equal Voice and Equal Worth” for women across Singapore. It has more than 50 member organisations, representing more than 500,000, working towards these ideals.
Singapore Committee for UN Women
This local committee supports the general global goals of UN Women on various initiatives meant to improve women’s empowerment and gender equality in all aspects of life and in the workplace. They have a large impact locally, taking up causes for women, including fighting for rights for domestic workers, working to end violence against women, and promote women in STEM careers. They raise awareness and funding for Ending Violence Against Women, Economic Empowerment, and Governance and Leadership Programmes in Singapore and the region.
Wins and what’s next
When it comes to countries paving the way, last year Iceland passed a new law enforcing equal pay between genders, meaning it’s now illegal to pay women less than men. Firms that employ more than 25 people are obligated to obtain a government certificate demonstrating pay equality, or face fines. This move is part of the nation’s plans to eradicate the gender pay gap by 2022.
Further notable achievements for women in the United States include the appointment of Stacey Cunningham as New York Stock Exchange president – the first female leader in its 226 year history – and flourishing women-only co-working space collective and club, The Wing, last year securing $75 million to scale its network physically and digitally.
These are just a handful of examples of initiatives contributing to improved gender parity both here and around the world.
Every committee, initiative and IWD held is a step in the right direction. Director at Page Personnel Singapore Kirsty Poltock put it best on International Women’s Day 2019, “The aim is to create a gender balanced leadership group and ensure that we value the contributions of men and women equally.”