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Youths shared their thoughts on including diverse voices for women's develop...
Conversations on Women’s Development – Workplaces
A Summary of Issues Raised by Youths (Saturday, 6 Feb 2021)
Attended by: Ms Gan Siow Huang, Minister of State, Ministry of Education and Ministry of Manpower
The final session, the third in the series, focused on issues in workplaces. The dialogue was held on 6 February 2021 and these are some of the key takeaways from the session:
Participants said that more open discussions on Singapore women’s development and empowerment were needed and hoped to see change led by the Government.
The top three issues of concern affecting women in workplaces as voted by participants were: Work-Life Harmony (22.4%), Workplace Harassment (21.6%) and Lack of Female Leaders/Senior Management Positions (18.1%).
Youths shared that more could be done to educate the public on workplace harassment and appropriate workplace behaviours to promote healthy perceptions of gender roles. They also asked for shared paternity leave, safer avenues to report workplace harassment, and a larger female representation in senior positions.
Participants were concerned about the persistence of traditional gender roles in society. They shared that society still largely saw women as taking on caregiving responsibilities. They felt that as a result, some companies may not view women who juggle career and motherhood as candidates for promotion, resulting in some females having to choose between focusing on their careers and raising children.
Many participants called for gender equality in caregiving responsibilities and work opportunities. Some suggested allowing both parents to share the allocated childcare leave, as well as more support for working parents, such as providing childcare facilities at workplaces.
Participant also raised the need to recognise the monetary value of caregiving, and compensate caregivers accordingly.
Workplace harassment was second in the list of top concerns. Participants felt that many cases of harassment remained unreported due to the lack of awareness about what constituted harassment at work. They also said that most victims were unaware of the help and resources available.
While participants acknowledged that there were existing mechanisms – such as The Tripartite Alliance for Dispute Management (TADM) and the Tripartite Alliance for Fair & Progressive Employment (TAFEP) – in place to prevent workplace harassment, they were guidelines that companies were not bound to follow. As such, participants felt that the onus to report workplace harassment then fell on the victims, who might not have the emotional strength or legal knowledge to pursue the cases. Some suggested the possibility of passing these guidelines through legislation so that companies were legally bound to follow them.
Participants said that many harassment cases remain unreported because victims fear being victim-blamed. Participants suggested that companies implemented workplace training to better educate and empower women to report inappropriate behaviour at work. Some also shared the importance of bystander intervention as the onus should not solely be on the victim to report harassment cases. A small number of participants also shared the need to protect minority women at workplaces as they were observed to face higher incidences of discrimination and harassment in the workplace.
Lack of Female Leaders/Senior Management Positions:
While participants acknowledged that there had been progress for gender equality between men and women in Singapore, they said that senior leadership positions in most organisations were still largely male-dominated.
Participants shared that the lack of female representation in senior management could create a vicious cycle where young women lacked female role models to aspire towards. Some also believed that female leaders better understood the issues and challenges faced by female employees, thereby enabling more positive changes to be made from the top.
Participants suggested providing young women with more leadership and talent development opportunities to train them for senior leadership positions.