Women feel poorly represented in business leadership: Poll

Office crowd in Central Business District (CBD). Most women in Singapore feel that they are not represented adequately in business leadership roles.
Office crowd in Central Business District (CBD). Most women in Singapore feel that they are not represented adequately in business leadership roles. ST PHOTO: JAMIE KOH

Most women here feel they are not represented adequately in business leadership roles, but most men beg to differ.

That stark contrast in perceptions of the gender divide in the business world has emerged from a new survey by professional recruitment firm Robert Walters.

Three-quarters, or 75 per cent, of 130 women surveyed here feel that way. But well over half of 41 male respondents - 56 per cent - believe women have "sufficient standing in business leading roles".

Asked to name the top reasons why there are not as many female leaders, 37 per cent of all respondents here cited family pressures or commitments outside work as the main culprits. Also, 32 per cent of all respondents here believed that the management prefers to promote men over women.

Of all the respondents here, 21 per cent agreed that women made up more than 20 per cent of leadership positions in their organisations.

But only 45 per cent believed there are strong female leaders within their organisations who they can look up to as role models.

HELPFUL DRIVER

Seventy-nine per cent of women in Singapore cited the presence of a mentor or sponsor at the senior-management level as the most helpful driver in empowering them to develop their careers.

ROBERT WALTERS

"Further advocating the need for gender diversity in the workplace, 79 per cent of women in Singapore cited the presence of a mentor or sponsor at the senior-management level as the most helpful driver in empowering them to develop their careers," said Robert Walters.

The report comes after the Diversity Action Committee's latest report and recommendations yesterday, to further improve gender diversity in Singapore.

Only 37 per cent of women here think their current employer has clear and enforced policies on gender diversity, equality and inclusion, and 49 per cent felt that their organisations are lacking in the fair and equal representation of female business leaders.

Ms Joanne Chua, Robert Walters South-east Asia's account director, said: "From our interactions with professionals of both genders and observations as market leaders, we noticed that more often, women tend to second-guess their capabilities, compared to their male counterparts. This has in turn often limited their progression at the workplace."

Rachael Boon

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 07, 2016, with the headline 'Women feel poorly represented in business leadership: Poll'. Print Edition | Subscribe