6 Singapore firms lauded for advancing gender equality

SINGAPORE- Six Singapore-based companies have made it to an index recognising commitment to furthering gender equality and data transparency.

Genting Singapore is the latest addition to the Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index (GEI), which is in its fourth year. Singapore Exchange has been on the list for two years while telco Singtel and bank UOB Group have been on for three consecutive years.

DBS Group Holdings and real estate developer City Developments have made the list for four consecutive years.

The index of 380 companies from 11 sectors headquartered in 44 countries was announced on Wednesday (Jan 27). The index tracks the performance of public companies committed to transparency in gender-data reporting and aims to help investors evaluate how firms are tackling gender equality in the workplace and in their local communities, said Bloomberg chairman Peter Grauer.

“The companies included in this year’s index are committed to providing an inclusive work environment, supporting work-life balance and flexible work arrangements to retain a talented workforce and create a competitive advantage in this changing business environment,” he said.

Last year’s index had 325 firms.

Companies which want to be included in the index use Bloomberg’s framework to report data for 59 metrics across five areas: female leadership and talent pipeline, equal pay and gender pay parity, inclusive culture, sexual harassment policies and a pro-women brand.

They are given a score based on their responses, and are included in the index if their score exceeds a global threshold.

The score takes into account the level of disclosure of gender-related data, and how well the company performs in the five areas.

Data used for this year’s index was based on fiscal year 2019.

Bloomberg also noted that 52 per cent of the GEI companies have policies in place to ensure a diverse slate of candidates are considered for management positions.

It also found that 85 per cent of companies reported offering flexible working locations and 65 per cent having on-site lactation rooms. Another 46 per cent of companies provide childcare subsidies or other financial support.

Commenting on the GEI, Sembawang GRC MP Poh Li San commended the companies that made it to the ranking this year for recognising the needs of its female staff in providing amenities and family-friendly HR policies.

Ms Poh was a female helicopter pilot in the Republic of Singapore Air Force from 2000 to 2010, and now serves as Changi Airport Group vice-president.

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While women are still “obviously severely outnumbered” at the executive level, Ms Poh noted: “It also depends on the ratio of women in these organisations. For instance, if half of the workforce is women, then certainly having more women at the executive level would help in contributing diversity of views and representing the issues faced by the women. I think what’s important is also how these companies have fared over the past few years.”

Ms Shailey Hingorani, Aware’s head of research and advocacy, said the index is a reminder of the overwhelming evidence that diversity enhances businesses’ bottom lines.

She said: “If companies continue in spite of this evidence with hiring, promotion and other employment practices that are not diverse and inclusive, it’s because they are still operating under antiquated assumptions of what ‘competent and committed’ workers look like.”

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She said Singapore still has some way to go in terms of gender equality in the workplace.

“To put this figure into perspective, let’s remember that there are at least 500,000 registered business entities in Singapore. It’s also worth noting that even the Singapore companies that performed best on this index fell below the global average on sexual harassment policies and inclusivity.”

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