Women in the workforce in the ASEAN region Women in the workforce in the ASEAN region

Women in the workforce in the ASEAN region
05 Feb 2018

In part one of this two-part series, ASEAN Briefing takes a closer look at women in the workplace regionally.

The employment level for women throughout the ASEAN region is important for foreign investors and international companies to understand and anticipate. The importance of female penetration in the labour force for overall economic growth is something that could affect the prospects of multinational companies investing in any region and is especially important in emerging economic regions such as South East Asia.

An increase in the employment of women can be an indicator of how a good an economy is doing overall, as well as future prospects for available labour. Such factors can be game changers when selecting an investment location. This article will profile the role of women in the labour force of three large ASEAN economies - Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam.

Malaysia

Malaysia is one of the ASEAN countries lagging behind others in the employment level of women. The female labour force participation rate in this country has reached 44 per cent of the country’s female population age 15 and over in the past 15 years.

The main reason for the lack of women in the workforce is due to childbearing. Most women stop working to look after their children because of the lack of child-care facilities in Malaysia. Two-thirds of women said that family is the main reason for leaving the workforce and alleviating childcare strains would help this.

There have been both government and company incentives to lure women back into the workforce.

The government has collaborated with companies to increase childcare facilities.

Prime Minister Najib Razak has offered tax incentives to companies that establish nurseries and allow flexible work arrangements to encourage women to resume their careers.

The Malaysian unit of Citibank opened childcare centre for employees and CIMB Group Holdings Bank, the second largest bank in Malaysia, has a childcare centre, car parks for pregnant women and breastfeeding rooms for female employees.

General Electric offer benefits such as flexible working hours and extended maternity leave, all of which are examples of ways in which the country is trying to boost Southeast Asia’s lowest female workforce participation rate.

The decrease of women in the workplace has led to a clear imbalance in the workforce with women holding just seven per cent of the board seats within companies. However, the Malaysian government is embarking on more sustainable efforts to bring women back into the workforce. This will not only benefit the country of Malaysia - an increase in female employment will also benefit companies..

Singapore

Equality of women continues to be vital to Singapore’s economic progress. According to Singapore’s labour force statistics last year, the employment rate for women is at one of the highest levels with a staggering 76 per cent for the prime working ages of 25 to 54 years old.

However, as in Malaysia, there has been a decrease of employed women specifically in their thirties because of child-rearing and childcare reasons.

Resident labour force participation rate rose for the third successive year to a new high of 67 per cent in 2014, driven by on-going increases of women residents. Employment rate rose to a new high as more women entered the labour force amid a tight labour market and low unemployment as a whole. Rise in employment rate of women is a reflection of how well the economy is doing.

Today, the Singaporean woman is often viewed as equal to her male counterpart. There are many women doctors, lawyers, bankers, entrepreneurs, office workers and legislators in Singapore. But some women are not equally paid as males for the same job similar to the United States and other countries. Women are also underrepresented at senior management levels.

Nevertheless, Singapore has been ensuring that more women are being employed in the workforce.

Some solutions presented to ensure more female employment include companies being more openminded, consultative and creative in considering alternative work plans specifically targeted at female work-life balance.

Vietnam

According to the United Nation’s International Labour Organisation, there are about 72 per cent of women in the labour force in Vietnam, which also means that a lot more Vietnamese women have jobs then most of the other countries around the globe.

However, the gender gap has expanded in Vietnam where the labour force participation of women still stands high compared to the rest of world.

Women in Vietnam make up a large part of the Vietnamese workforce. Women are included in every industry in this country. However, like Singapore and most other countries, women make less money than their male counterparts. Even with these obstacles, women in Vietnam are staying strong and continuing to hold and succeed in important jobs. This speaks volume about Vietnam’s economy.

What does improved female employment mean for international companies?

Female employment can enhance a company’s relations with the local community and with other business partners. This can help companies when conducting their business activities.

Usha Rao-Monari, Director of International Finance Corporation (IFC) Sustainable Business Advisory says: “Women’s participation is critical to meet the demand for skilled labour in emerging markets. Investing in women’s employment is a win-win for all, strengthening both companies and community and changing the face of the global economy.”

As a result, hiring more women can enhance a company’s workforce by making sure it is representative of its customer base and it can provide more insights into consumer preferences.

Thus, understanding women’s penetration in the labour force is a key insight, which decision makers must not overlook when selecting an investment destination in ASEAN.

 

This article was first published on ASEAN Briefing.

Dezan Shira & Associates is a specialist foreign direct investment practice, providing corporate establishment, business advisory, tax advisory and compliance, accounting, payroll, due diligence and financial review services to multinationals investing in emerging Asia. Since its establishment in 1992, the firm has grown into one of Asia’s most versatile full-service consultancies with operational offices across China, Hong Kong, India, Singapore and Vietnam as well as liaison offices in Italy and the United States.

For further details or to contact the firm, please email info@dezshira.com or visit www.dezshira.com.

 

By Felicia Romain, Dezan Shira and Associates.

In part one of this two-part series, ASEAN Briefing takes a closer look at women in the workplace regionally.

The employment level for women throughout the ASEAN region is important for foreign investors and international companies to understand and anticipate. The importance of female penetration in the labour force for overall economic growth is something that could affect the prospects of multinational companies investing in any region and is especially important in emerging economic regions such as South East Asia.

An increase in the employment of women can be an indicator of how a good an economy is doing overall, as well as future prospects for available labour. Such factors can be game changers when selecting an investment location. This article will profile the role of women in the labour force of three large ASEAN economies - Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam.

Malaysia

Malaysia is one of the ASEAN countries lagging behind others in the employment level of women. The female labour force participation rate in this country has reached 44 per cent of the country’s female population age 15 and over in the past 15 years.

The main reason for the lack of women in the workforce is due to childbearing. Most women stop working to look after their children because of the lack of child-care facilities in Malaysia. Two-thirds of women said that family is the main reason for leaving the workforce and alleviating childcare strains would help this.

There have been both government and company incentives to lure women back into the workforce.

The government has collaborated with companies to increase childcare facilities.

Prime Minister Najib Razak has offered tax incentives to companies that establish nurseries and allow flexible work arrangements to encourage women to resume their careers.

The Malaysian unit of Citibank opened childcare centre for employees and CIMB Group Holdings Bank, the second largest bank in Malaysia, has a childcare centre, car parks for pregnant women and breastfeeding rooms for female employees.

General Electric offer benefits such as flexible working hours and extended maternity leave, all of which are examples of ways in which the country is trying to boost Southeast Asia’s lowest female workforce participation rate.

The decrease of women in the workplace has led to a clear imbalance in the workforce with women holding just seven per cent of the board seats within companies. However, the Malaysian government is embarking on more sustainable efforts to bring women back into the workforce. This will not only benefit the country of Malaysia - an increase in female employment will also benefit companies..

Singapore

Equality of women continues to be vital to Singapore’s economic progress. According to Singapore’s labour force statistics last year, the employment rate for women is at one of the highest levels with a staggering 76 per cent for the prime working ages of 25 to 54 years old.

However, as in Malaysia, there has been a decrease of employed women specifically in their thirties because of child-rearing and childcare reasons.

Resident labour force participation rate rose for the third successive year to a new high of 67 per cent in 2014, driven by on-going increases of women residents. Employment rate rose to a new high as more women entered the labour force amid a tight labour market and low unemployment as a whole. Rise in employment rate of women is a reflection of how well the economy is doing.

Today, the Singaporean woman is often viewed as equal to her male counterpart. There are many women doctors, lawyers, bankers, entrepreneurs, office workers and legislators in Singapore. But some women are not equally paid as males for the same job similar to the United States and other countries. Women are also underrepresented at senior management levels.

Nevertheless, Singapore has been ensuring that more women are being employed in the workforce.

Some solutions presented to ensure more female employment include companies being more openminded, consultative and creative in considering alternative work plans specifically targeted at female work-life balance.

Vietnam

According to the United Nation’s International Labour Organisation, there are about 72 per cent of women in the labour force in Vietnam, which also means that a lot more Vietnamese women have jobs then most of the other countries around the globe.

However, the gender gap has expanded in Vietnam where the labour force participation of women still stands high compared to the rest of world.

Women in Vietnam make up a large part of the Vietnamese workforce. Women are included in every industry in this country. However, like Singapore and most other countries, women make less money than their male counterparts. Even with these obstacles, women in Vietnam are staying strong and continuing to hold and succeed in important jobs. This speaks volume about Vietnam’s economy.

What does improved female employment mean for international companies?

Female employment can enhance a company’s relations with the local community and with other business partners. This can help companies when conducting their business activities.

Usha Rao-Monari, Director of International Finance Corporation (IFC) Sustainable Business Advisory says: “Women’s participation is critical to meet the demand for skilled labour in emerging markets. Investing in women’s employment is a win-win for all, strengthening both companies and community and changing the face of the global economy.”

As a result, hiring more women can enhance a company’s workforce by making sure it is representative of its customer base and it can provide more insights into consumer preferences.

Thus, understanding women’s penetration in the labour force is a key insight, which decision makers must not overlook when selecting an investment destination in ASEAN.

 

This article was first published on ASEAN Briefing.

Dezan Shira & Associates is a specialist foreign direct investment practice, providing corporate establishment, business advisory, tax advisory and compliance, accounting, payroll, due diligence and financial review services to multinationals investing in emerging Asia. Since its establishment in 1992, the firm has grown into one of Asia’s most versatile full-service consultancies with operational offices across China, Hong Kong, India, Singapore and Vietnam as well as liaison offices in Italy and the United States.

For further details or to contact the firm, please email info@dezshira.com or visit www.dezshira.com.

 

By Felicia Romain, Dezan Shira and Associates.