Article: Retaining women employees in the Southeast Asian workforce


Retaining women employees in the Southeast Asian workforce

Though women have made their presence known in the workforce of Singapore and Philippines, countries like Malaysia and Vietnam still have few women in the workforce.
Retaining women employees in the Southeast Asian workforce

The economy of South-east Asia assumes a significant position in the global market by continuing its triumphant growth and development over the decades. Despite the presence of  227 world companies with more than $1 billion in revenue, the industrial arena in this region encounters the absence of sufficient women in the workforce. The benefits of education and skill development seem to be irrelevant when it comes to an employment scenario where the participation of women is lesser than anticipated. According to a study conducted by ADB, Asian women are “on average 70 percent less likely than men to be in the labor workforce."

Key Industries

Women have made their presence known in the major South-east Asian industries including the technology companies but are still prone to the issues related to gender diversification in other corporate sectors. The economic growth of an organization owes much to the female employees who play a crucial role in establishing business relations with the regional groups. Presently the female workforce rate of SEA region is 42% which is higher than the global average of 39%. Even though Singapore is representing 89% of women in employment and Philippines is holding the ninth rank in the world for gender equity, improvement is crucial. Generating a flexible working environment for women to incorporate more of them into companies is essential. The statistics from Malaysia and Vietnam with a low female workforce rate of 44 and 48 percent respectively accelerates this demand.

Inclusiveness at the workplace

A working environment which provides adequate freedom and recognizes the value of the employees will be conducive to the productive growth of an organization. The need for a healthy work culture which provides both mental and physical comfort to women for their skill development requires special attention. They should be involved in the decision making processes, given ample opportunities to express their opinions and perspectives. For instance, the representation of women in the senior management level is less compared to the number of women in other posts in the SEA region.


In SEA region women are confined to the traditional roles attributed to them by society and family. Childbearing is one of the main reasons why women decide to leave their jobs due to the lack of child care facilities in the company. Most of the women employees face discrimination on the basis of maternity and are not offered with the provision of maternity leave. They are often restrained to informal works without giving a chance to fulfill their potential in the leadership front. Gender biases in the form of low wages and lower quality jobs which prevent further career advancement are the real problems which cause inconvenience to women to work independently and effectively. Lack of skill development and talent creation, poor female retention rates,  denial of promotion and prolonged probation adds to the challenges faced by women in the employment sector. Moreover, they are expected to maintain a compliant attitude in the organization.

For the further growth of a company, the creation of a gender-neutral workspace is inevitable. Flexibility is a key aspect that can offer a quality working environment by recognizing the needs and requirements of the employees. Effective policies have to be formulated and enforced in the organization regarding the women employees and measures should be taken to promote their talent and skills. Acknowledging their contributions and identifying their achievements will help to generate an inclusive workplace where the value of employees is given due importance. The company should give prominence to gender diversification and gender equity by safeguarding women from discrimination and by taking initiatives to build a secure workplace. Equal pay and efficient time distribution, childcare facilities, promotion of skill training and bringing women to leadership roles are practical solutions to the problems faced by women in the employment sector.

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Topics: Diversity, #GlobalPerspective

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