Women entrepreneurs in Singapore
While Asia can boast both progressive and reactionary attitudes in abundance when it comes to gender equality, Singapore can be duly proud of its diversity and positive commitment to women's rights in the workforce.
As a country, Singapore has been a melting pot of nationalities and cultures for a long time. There are many women occupying successful and ambitious managerial roles in the island state; contrast this situation with Japan, where less than 10% of management are females.
According to Piyush Gupta, the CEO of South East Asia Pacific, Citibank, women formed the majority of his bank's Asian customer base. “We've found women respond better to women bankers… Women bring something different to business, and you need to leverage both genders. It's a substantive business issue. It is not about being kind to women. It is about ensuring the success of our business in the future.”
These sentiments were echoed by Rhodora Palomar-Fresnedi, Global Head for Diversity, Unilever. The key lever in readjusting the gender mix to reflect the need for equality was receiving sufficient impetus of drive and commitment from the top down. “Engage the seven people at the top and you reach the 170,000 others.”
Gary Tiernan, Global Head of Investment, Advisory & Fiduciary Managing Director, Standard Chartered Bank Private Bank, stated that his bank was almost 50/50 with male and female employees. Over a fifth of the bank's senior managers were now women. In fact, in many parts of India and Pakistan, the Standard Chartered Bank had branches that were exclusively staffed by women.
The bank's commitment to gender equality is commendable. They employ so many women for many reasons, but chief amongst these is the fact that their predominantly Asian focus gives them a competitive edge. This is down to the fact that there are so many experienced and highly skilled women in the region. Being forewarned is another crucial aspect to this, as financiers in the east can take a leaf out of mistakes that were made in the west when approaching the issue of gender.