The LinkedIn Opportunity Index 2021 spotlights the gender gaps that continue to exist in the workplace, and how these affect women’s opportunities for career development.
Almost 8 in 10 Singaporeans feel they have been negatively impacted by COVID-19, citing job insecurity, reduced worklife balance, and reduced pay. This has likely led to a cautious economic outlook amongst Singaporeans, with less than half (41%) expecting the economy to improve over the next 6 months and even fewer (27%) expecting their financial situation to improve over the same period. In addition, over 5 in 10 Singaporeans feel that it is harder now to overcome barriers such as a difficult job market and a lack of time than before COVID-19.
Despite the bleak economic outlook, Singaporeans started looking for new opportunities beyond work, namely, to help others within the community. For example, 26 percent looked to providing safety support items like sanitizer and masks to others within the community, 24 percent looked for ways to serve society and 21 percent looked to help or mentor others to gain opportunities.
In addition, Singaporeans sought out learning opportunities. Learning new soft skills — leadership skills, creative thinking, and problem-solving — were sought after by more millennials and career starters, while learning new hard skills — business analysis, artificial intelligence, and cloud computing — were sought after by millennials.
“About a year on since COVID-19 hit us, many continue to struggle from job loss and job instability. Yet it is heartening to see that people have also turned their focus towards helping the community,” said Feon Ang, Vice President, Talent, and Learning Solutions, APAC, LinkedIn. “This is also a journey that we are working towards at LinkedIn because we believe in the power of community in helping others get back on their feet. We have also stepped up efforts to initiate mentorship opportunities for job seekers facing more barriers with our LinkedIn Coaches and Network Gap Alliance.”
While many women in Singapore now have the flexibility to work from home, they face other barriers when it comes to achieving opportunities, including lack of time (62 percent) and a difficult job market (58 percent). A lack of required skills (55 percent) and guidance from their network (50 percent) are also cited as barriers women face.
In spite of these barriers, women are prepared to work hard, but they desire equal access to opportunities as men. In fact, women see these two as the most important aspects (82 percent and 76 percent respectively) to getting ahead in life.
Close to 6 in 10 Singaporeans saying that gender equality has improved compared to their parents’ time, however, many still feel gender bias continues to exist in the workplace
2 in 5 Singaporeans agree that women have fewer career advancement opportunities, and are paid less than men in their profession. This figure is more apparent among women and working mothers. In fact, almost 6 in 10 women in Singapore have experienced that their gender played a role in missing out on opportunities, promotion and pay.
Our research suggests that this mindset may stem from broader societal perceptions around gender. While 70 percent think that gender equality is an important value for a fair society, half of the respondents believe that it has already come far enough and has been achieved to a satisfactory degree. Furthermore, over 4 in 10 think that gender equality is impossible to achieve, and this sentiment is higher among men. This potentially shows that Singaporeans feel not much more can or should be done to further gender equality.
Ang said, “Singapore’s workforce has taken a hit due to COVID-19 across the board, women included. The lack of time is the top barrier for women today — likely due to having to juggle remote working and family responsibilities. We also know that women are seeking to get ahead in life, and want equal access to opportunity as men. As a society, we need to start changing our societal perceptions on gender. In our organizations, too, we need to level the playing field for women. When we succeed, the economy and our organizations succeed as well. The government has announced that 2021 as the year of Celebrating SG Women — and this is an opportune time for all of us to carry this torch forward together.”
LinkedIn's data shows that only 14% of working professionals in Singapore strongly agree that gender diversity is a priority in their organization. In Singapore, LinkedIn recorded year-on-year growth of senior leaders taking the lead and initiating conversations about diversity on the platform. In addition, content on diversity gets on average 144 percent more engagement than the average company post. This is a positive sign that people are receptive to senior leaders’ call for gender diversity, which could ultimately help address the gender gap and ensure equitable recovery for all.
Further, 2 in 5 Singaporeans agree that women have fewer career advancement opportunities, and are paid less than men in their profession. At LinkedIn, we have programs that support our community of women in their professional growth.
With the majority of women still the primary caretaker at home, more expect organizations to provide them with work from home (40 percent), reduced schedules (35 percent) and part-time schedule (29 percent) options. The expectation for extended maternity policies is also a strong sentiment among working mothers. This suggests that women are aware and more vocal about the support they need from the workplace in order to balance work and family responsibilities effectively.