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Written Answer by Mrs Josephine Teo Minister for Manpower to Parliamentary Question on Tripartite Standard on Gender-Equal Workplace Practices


MP: Mr Louis Ng Kok Kwang

To ask the Minister for Manpower whether the Ministry will consider introducing a Tripartite Standard on Gender-Equal Workplace Practices that requires companies to adopt practices such as regular audits of employee wages to ensure gender parity and adequate female representation in key leadership positions. 


  1. MOM has continually adopted policies to encourage fair employment practices that support men and women in our diverse workforce. While well-intended, instituting a Tripartite Standard on Gender-Equal Workplace Practices may not lead to the desired outcomes of gender wage parity or greater representation of females in key leadership positions. Instead, there may be some unintended consequences. 
  2. For instance, audits of gender pay gaps may lead to firms hesitating to employ lower-wage women as they try to avoid widening gender pay gaps. This could then restrict opportunities for many women in rank and file jobs. Rather than impose a Standard, we need to address the underlying reasons for gender pay gaps and low female representation in leadership roles. One of the root causes lies in current social norms or gender roles. In Asian families, women typically take on the primary role of caring for their children and elderly persons. This affects the amount of time women can spend at work and the extent of their work experience, and hence it impacts their career progression and earnings. 
  3. Therefore, our policies aim to achieve a more balanced share of caregiving responsibilities by men and women. To reach this goal, we spur the adoption of flexible working arrangements, or FWAs, through the Tripartite Standard on FWAs and Work-Life Grant so that they can better manage their work responsibilities and at the same time fulfill family and personal aspirations. With FWAs, women are better supported to remain in the workforce, gain work experience, earn higher wages and assume leadership roles. 
  4. In addition, to increase the board representation of women, the Council for Board Diversity, started by the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF), actively engages Chairpersons and Board Members of private and public sector organisations to encourage the appointment of women candidates.  
  5. We have seen encouraging results thus far. Singapore’s adjusted gender pay gap narrowed from 8.8% in 2002 to 6% in 2018. Our women’s participation on the boards of the top 100 listed companies increased from 15.2% in 2018 to 16.2% last year. 
  6. As a society, adjusting social norms can also help men and women achieve greater parity in their roles at home and at work, which is key to reaching greater wage parity and more female representation in key leadership roles.