In Singapore, Women More Likely to Advance in Larger Companies Than in SMEs

Singapore women are more likely to have their careers advance on par with their male colleagues if they work for a large company than if they work for a small one.


This is the key finding of a global survey of 970 HR managers in 13 countries, including 100 from Singapore.  The survey was conducted by specialist recruitment company Robert Half.


The survey found 52 per cent of HR managers in Singapore believe women are not getting the same career opportunities as men.  When the size of the company is taken into account, the percentage that believe women are held back is 59 per cent in small firms (0-49 employees), compared to 39 per cent of HR managers working in larger firms (500+ employees).


The perception that women are disadvantaged at work is slightly more prominent among female HR managers than male.


When asked why women's careers were not advancing as quickly as men, the most common reason cited was a lack of work-life balance arrangements to allow women to meet their parental duties.  This is particularly among large firms where 71 per cent of respondents nominate a lack of work-life balance as a barrier to female advancement.


Societal perceptions of their role of women was still a significant reason why women are not getting ahead, according to 44 per cent, and is most prominent in mid-sized companies (71 per cent).


In small companies, a lack of ambition is cited as holding back one in four women.  In contrast, there was not a single HR manager working for a large firm who cited lack of ambition as an obstacle.


Stella Tang, Director of Robert Half Singapore said a lack of flexible working conditions was still the biggest obstacle women face.


"Whether we like it or not, the primary parental role still falls heavily upon women.  That's why companies need more flexible work practices in order to keep talented women in the workforce."


"Women in larger firms seem to have greater opportunity to advance as there are more senior positions for them to aspire to."


"The most alarming result is that societal perceptions of women are still holding back their careers.  It is hard to believe that people still believe a woman is less capable of doing a job because of her gender."


She added that women held back in their careers by sexist prejudice in their workplace could consider finding another job where they are judged by their talent and contribution to the bottom line.