Investing in Women: Driving Gender Diversity and Inclusion at the Workplace

Learn from organisations that have led the way in supporting female talent at the workplace.

05 Mar 2024 Articles Recruitment Trending Best practices

In a world where there is a US$360 billion annual deficit1 in financing gender equality measures, organisations can do their part by investing in women today.

This is especially apt for this year’s edition of International Women’s Day (IWD), themed “Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress”. We learn from organisations in Singapore who are committed towards growing and nurturing their pool of female talent, and have led the way in supporting female talent and cultivating gender diversity in a sustainable manner.

1. Invest in Fair and Inclusive Hiring 

Fair and progressive firms committed towards supporting female talent start from the hiring phase. Apart from a fair and transparent recruitment process, they focus on inclusive hiring strategies, to support women in entering industries or job fields that they typically are underrepresented in. 

For example, in 2019, DBS extended its annual hackathon to hire tech talent, introducing Hack2Hire-Her to recruit more females in a male-dominated sector. As a result, the number of female applications increased by over 30 per cent compared to 5 per cent in the previous years, and the number of jobs offered to women as of 2020 also increased about five times2.

Not only does this mean they reap the benefits of having a diverse workforce that include better decision-making, greater creativity and innovation due to multiple perspectives, it supports the growth of the talent pool to build a sustainable workforce.

2. Invest in Mentoring and Training

Beyond hiring, such organisations invest in targeted strategies to support female employees, in their career development. An example is mentoring as an effective method in providing networks and coaching opportunities. 

Companies can consider reaching out to external industry professionals for the best insights, such as BoardAgender or Great Place to Work which have great mentoring programmes. The latter offers Growing In Technology (GRIT), which trains women in technology. 

It can also be an organisation-wide effort, with companies like Shell and DBS providing their own training programmes for women.   

Shell runs a Women’s Career Development Programme, a learning programme for female employees to identify what they want in their professional and personal lives, and the support needed. 

In April 2023, DBS partnered with non-profit organisation SG Her Empowerment (SHE)3 to launch its flagship Women Leadership Programme, with 27 female employees receiving training and mentorship for seven months to unlock their leadership potential.

As of 2023, about 40 per cent of senior management staff at DBS are female4. This is significantly higher than the average of 24.5 per cent in senior leadership roles in Singapore’s financial institutions in 20215, according to a Deloitte survey.

3. Leading Conversations

Progressive firms take a lead in starting conversations on gender diversity and inclusion (D&I), and addressing issues openly. Beyond increasing awareness on the issues and challenges associated with gender diversity, it builds a greater understanding of the state of D&I at the workplace and how businesses can better support its employees.  

DBS not only raises awareness within the workplace, but has also driven conversations on D&I. For example, gender-inclusive workplaces were discussed at a SHE X DBS IWD panel discussion held on 14 March 2023 with Minister for Home Affairs and Law Mr K Shanmugam and DBS Group Head of Institutional Banking Ms Tan Su Shan, which covered the vexed question of implementing quotas to boost the number of women in Singapore boardrooms; and how women can gain confidence in their workplace6.

Local property company City Developments Limited, through its Women4Green network, also highlights women’s opportunities for participation in a more sustainable future. 

As the workforce evolves, diversity becomes more common in organisations, with women playing a vital role in business success. Businesses that have recognised this and have made efforts to invest in female talent have benefited from a sustained talent pool and sharpened their competitive edge.

[1] International Women’s Day 2024: ‘Invest in women: Accelerate progress’. Available at: [Accessed on 4 Mar, 2024]

[2] DBS to host first-ever virtual career fair for women technologists in Singapore. Available at [Accessed on 4 Mar, 2024]

[3] Women’s development has come a long way, but is still a work in progress: Shanmugam. Available at [Accessed on 4 Mar, 2024] 

[4] DBS included on Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index for sixth year running. Available at: [Accessed on 4 Mar, 2024]

[5] Deloitte analysis: Percentage of women in C-suite roles in financial institutions in Singapore outperforms Asia average. Available at: [Accessed on 4 Mar, 2024]

[6] Use quotas to boost women board members? DBS boss, female lawyer and Shanmugam give differing views in forum. Available at: [Accessed on 4 Mar, 2024]