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SBF Calls on Business Community to take Collective Action to Uplift Women in the Workforce

The Singapore Business Federation (SBF) unveiled a paper titled “Uplifting Women in the Workforce: Investing in the Success of Women in Singapore” at an event co-organised by SBF and the Singapore Women Entrepreneurs Network (SG-WEN) on Dec 3 2021. The online event was attended by women entrepreneurs and business leaders and focused on business strategies for talent development and retention.

With 2021 designated as the Year of Celebrating SG Women, SBF’s paper supports the broader national Conversations on Singapore Women’s Development with recommendations to help harness the full potential of Singapore’s female workforce and position Singapore for robust, sustainable, and balanced long-term economic growth.

The key findings of the paper, gathered through research conducted between September and November 2021 with 1,140 individuals and 116 business leaders from businesses, trade associations and chambers (TACs), government agencies and labour unions, include:

  • While effective support systems have enabled women to enter and thrive in the workforce over the years, there are opportunities to further uplift the role played by women in the workforce and advance the proliferation of women entrepreneurship.
  • Women face unique challenges, often acting as the first port of call when caregiving needs arise. 63% of women surveyed by SBF considered or had taken a career break due to family commitments.
  • Through acknowledging these unique challenges, employers can work to design policies that empower women to succeed.


The paper makes 12 recommendations at the company, ecosystem, national and individual level to help create a more inclusive workforce, advance women empowerment in the workplace and bolster women entrepreneurs. The recommendations reflect the collective aspirations of stakeholders to accelerate the progress of working women in their career and entrepreneurial journeys.


Category Recommendation
Leaders can recalibrate processes to encourage more women to remain in the workforce.


1. Ensure senior management buy-in

2. Adopt the relevant Tripartite Standards

3. Recalibrate processes and communicate extensively


Stakeholders can collaborate to explore innovative ways to attract women back to the workforce and foster women entrepreneurship.

4. Pilot clustered returnship programmes

5. Augment targeted peer support networks for returnees.

6. Build up support and mentoring networks for the propagation of women entrepreneurship


Government can explore policy adjustments to support stakeholders in actualising change. 

7. Embed inclusive terms within support policies

8. Increase support for family care leave

9. Foster a conducive environment to support women enterprise programmes


Individuals can embrace mindset shifts.

10. Be receptive to new opportunities and pathways

11. Embrace continuous learning

12. Communicate and manage expectations pre-emptively


SBF CEO Mr Lam Yi Young said, “The various stakeholder groups that we engaged all share a common recognition that women form a rich talent pool critical to addressing talent gaps, boosting societal and organisational diversity, and sustaining economic growth. This paper showcases the business community’s efforts and highlights opportunities for the entire ecosystem to realise the immense benefits of empowering all employees to perform to their fullest potential. 

SBF will continue to deepen collaborations with our partners to drive education and outreach efforts at the individual and company level as part of our Sustainable Employment endeavour, and support the whole-of-nation effort to invest in the success of women on an ecosystem and national level.”

Minister of State, Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth and Ministry of Trade and Industry Low Yen Ling said, “I welcome SBF’s contributions to the Conversations on Singapore Women’s Development, in particular their efforts to work with businesses to advance and support our women at the workplace. We need to build on the significant progress that’s been made and to forge ahead by further reducing and removing barriers that may hinder our women’s potential or progress at work. With fair and progressive employment practices, business leaders will enable women to excel, not only as equal partners at work, but as talented individuals in society.”

Capstone Event: “Strategies for Talent Development and Retention”
The SG-WEN capstone event for 2021 held today included a virtual panel discussion featuring Ms Jocelyn Chng, Chairman & Group CEO of JR Group, Ms Louisa Lee, Managing Director of DP Dental Group and Mr Quentin O’Mahony, General Manager of Singapore CAE Flight Training, that was moderated by Ms Elisa Mallis, APAC Managing Director of Center for Creative Leadership. The panellists discussed topics such as successful programmes that businesses have implemented to support the return of women to the workforce, and pioneering HR policies that can be explored to attract and retain female talents. The participants also took part in topical breakout sessions where they shared their personal experiences and offered ideas to facilitate and drive women’s empowerment in the workplace and business arena.

Ms Rachel Eng, SG-WEN Chairperson, said, “On top of improved access to financing, business services and markets, women entrepreneurs stressed the need for them to augment their current networks. This is aligned to SG-WEN’s primary focus areas of championing women entrepreneurs, sharing knowledge, collaborating with other groups and stakeholders and recognising the achievements and success of women entrepreneurs.”

The policy paper can be accessed here -


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