Singapore trails other SEA countries when it comes to gender diversity in E-commerce

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Photo: YouTube screengrab
 

Although Singapore ranks number one when it comes to per capita GDP in SouthEast Asian countries, in the area of gender diversity in the field of e-commerce, the city-state lags behind its neighbors.

To address this, The Diversity Action Committee (DAC) has adopted the goal of  having one-fifth, or 20 percent of board seats in E-commerce companies occupied by women by 2020. Currently, the figure stands at 14.7 percent.

2020 is predicted to be a boom year in the E-commerce sector, with predictions that the market will reach $10 billion in that year, growing by almost 12 percent from 2017. This sector is considered so financially promising that it is being described as a “gold mine of tax revenue.”

But a closer look at gender is worth taking, using publicly available data from LinkedIn, specifically 282 top management employees in the15 biggest E-commerce companies. The results showed that men are very much in the majority of these positions, with 66 percent of positions going to men, and only 34 percent going to women.

The percentages vary according to how high the position is. For example, at the lowest career level, there is only a five percent gap between the number of men and women employed in these positions (55 percent vs. 45 percent), while at the highest level, men have 83 percent of positions, while women only have 17 percent. This shows how fewer and fewer women climb to the highest managerial positions in the E-commerce industry.

A study from McKinsey Global Institute has shown that if more women are added in industries of rapid growth and high paying job opportunities, over $26  billion could be added to the country’s economy, which translates to 5 percent annual growth. 

Contrary to popular belief that the main reason why fewer women climb the corporate ladder is to start families, the truth is that another reason is at play. Women negotiate for raises and promotions even more than men do, but end up being perceived as less likable when they do so. Women are traditionally expected to be good team players: nurturing, giving and putting everyone’s needs above their own. 

However, experts say that greater diversity in top-level management is actually better not only for the company, but for the country as a whole. Should more women be added to the ranks of top management, this would cause Singapore’s economy to grow by 5 percent annually.

Among it’s neighbors, Singapore ranks fourth in terms of gender diversity in the E-commerce sector, behind the Philippines, which is at number one with 55 percent of top management positions occupied by women, followed by Malaysia, with 42 percent and Thailand, with 40 percent. The Philippines, has taken great strides in advancing the cause of gender diversity, especially with its 2009 Magna Carta for Women, which supports gender quality in government.

Measures are now being taken in Singapore to improve the situation. The PAP Women’s Wing and BoardAgender are recommending for the new diversity target to become a compulsory part of the Singapore Code of Corporate Governance, and companies are encouraged to also pursue programs that assist women in achieving career success, such as mentorship, skill-building, adjusted hours and other family-oriented programs.

This will not only help Singapore’s E-commerce sector, but others as well. The thought of an additional 5 percent growth in the economy proves a great incentive for helping women succeed all the way to the top.