Done by: Lee Jia Wen
The recent debate over the increasingly persistent issue of under-representation of women on boards in Singapore has shed light on the underlying problems in Singapore’s work sphere. While the country has evolved into a first-world economy, it has ironically and stubbornly retained the tradition of male-dominated upper-management—so much that a recent study found it to be even behind less-developed economies in terms of the percentage of women holding directorships on the boards of listed companies. In Singapore, this phenomenon seems to be caused by the lack of preexisting culture of female leaders, and the perception of females being suited to the domestic sphere rather than the office as well as of women being reticent, resulting in a general reluctance to appoint women onto boards.
Currently, the pressing issue concerns the steps to be taken in response to this problem. Perhaps the most drastic of them would be the implementation of quotas, as adopted by various European countries (e.g. France, Italy and the Netherlands). The argument for this is that this “creates an impetus to create diversity” (Marleen Dieleman, NUS) and is crucial for progress, backed by statistics showing that companies with higher percentages of females on their boards have indeed performed better in relation to their counterparts with lower percentages. Indeed, diversity is a crucial element for progress in today’s globalized and fast-paced society; the wider the variety of personalities within a company’s workforce, the higher its likelihood of constantly developing innovative ideas and solutions, and hence the more successful it becomes. The mix of personalities also enables it to consider and amalgamate a variety of viewpoints for every issue at hand, allowing it to come up with feasible solutions that appeal to multiple groups of people.
Despite this, implementing quotas...