TL;DR – Things are set in motion to help women get back into the workforce.
A whitepaper published by Robert Walters end 2016 found that of the women surveyed across Asia, 72% of the participants from Singapore had at one point in their lives taken a career break.
This number is higher than the 65% average in Asia and even higher than several not-as-developed countries. But with the cost of living climbing, the female participation in the labour force in Singapore has also been on the uptrend, from 54.3% in 2006 to 60.4% in 2016.
With an increasing need to help women get back into the workforce and an awareness of the various challenges that they face, the NTUC U Women’s Network partnered with social recruiting app Wantedly for an event to give these women a platform to directly network with potential employers and empower them in their job search.
Two invited speakers – Founder And Managing Director of Hegen, Yvon Bock and Chief Operating Officer of TradeGecko, Nathalie Benzing also shared their candid advice for women looking to get back into the workforce.
Here are 5 tips that every back-to-work woman needs to know:
1. Take that step
Yvon Bock, Founder and Managing Director of Hegen shared her journey of how she founded her revolutionary baby feeding products company. She met with people from industries such as precision engineering, mould-making, raw material processing etc that she never thought she would work with. It was a steep learning curve but daring to take that step made all the difference. And because of that step, she has found her personal vision and mission – to help mothers in their breastfeeding journey.
2. Find a job that feeds your passion, reflects the values you hold
Chief Operating Officer of inventory and order management software startup TradeGecko, Nathalie Benzing, shared that her guiding principle for looking for jobs has always been to find something that you feel passionate about and is a good fit with what you believe in. This following of her passion has led her to be flexible and she has relocated over 20 times in the last 20 years to pursue interests that fulfill her.
3. There is never a perfect balance, it’s always a constant juggle
Yvon mentioned that she does not believe in a perfect balance between work and family life. But rather, it’s always a constant juggle and that the most important thing to do is to set priorities. She explained that even though her day would be full of meetings, it would be peppered in-between with calls from her children asking what time she’ll be home.
4. Don’t underestimate the value you bring to the table
Nathalie shared that learnings from women’s previous jobs are still valid even if they take time off work to care for their children. She reiterated that those experiences still add value and it’s really a matter of how you articulate that value you bring. She elaborated that it doesn’t mean that if women take time off or need flexible work arrangements, they cannot contribute in equal measure to people who don’t have such restrictions.
5. “Keep an open mind, always learn”
Yvon closed the session by advising women to keep an open mind and to always a “want to learn” attitude. She shared instances of how she is “reversed-mentored” by her younger colleagues who are more well-versed in social media for instance.
NTUC’s Returner’s Programme
A recent Talking Point interview with Mr Desmond Choo from the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) revealed that such events are part of a longer-term initiative to help women get back into the workforce through a Returner’s Programme.
NTUC will be working closely with the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) to introduce a co-payment scheme to incentivize companies to hire back-to-work women so that they take on less risk and at the same time are able to fill vacancies in their organisation.
With U Women’s Network’s lineup of events and things being set in motion for women who have had a career break and are now looking to get back into the workforce, we can look forward to a more inclusive and empowered working population.