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DBS launches programme recognising women leaders, joins placement programme for underprivileged

Nicole Lim and Jovi Ho
Nicole Lim and Jovi Ho • 3 min read
DBS launches programme recognising women leaders, joins placement programme for underprivileged
Minister K Shanmugam, Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Law, delivers the opening remarks at a DBS event to mark International Women’s Day. Photo: DBS
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is launching a seven-month Women’s Leadership Programme to elevate high-potential women leaders from within its staff.

The bank will also join a placement programme for underprivileged young women, launched by independent non-profit SG Her Empowerment (SHE).

Titled “SHE Sneak Peek”, participants will attend short placements in various public and private organisations over the span of one year. DBS joins over 20 host organisations, including the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), Singapore Police Force (SPF), Grab, Ernst & Young, SHEIN, Standard Chartered and TSMP Law Corporation.

Singapore has made good strides on women’s development, but this remains a work-in-progress, says K Shanmugam, Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Law, in his opening remarks at the launch event on March 14.

The private sector has a big part to play in cultivating the right mindset, he adds. “This programme will increase the exposure of its young participants, and inspire them to dream big.”

The two initiatives will begin in April.

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Shanmugam cites a 2018 McKinsey report, which noted that women around the world face “bottlenecks” along the career ladder. “In Singapore, one starts to see a drop-off in the proportion of women at the senior management level. Women generally make up around 25% of the senior management in companies here.”

According to DBS, women make up 40% of its senior management.

Mindsets and attitudes towards women can be shaped from a very young age, says Shanmugam. “That depends on homes, schools and society; it’s an effort from all of us.”

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He cites the “outlandish” rhetoric of British-American social media personality Andrew Tate, who has been detained in Romania on suspicion of rape and human trafficking since December 2022.

“In the UK, for example, schools are seriously concerned that boys and young men are being attracted to the misogynistic views of people like Andrew Tate,” says Shanmugam. “This is a man who says that women belong in the home, are a man’s property, and boasts about hitting and choking women. Very extreme — you would think it outlandish.”

Singapore does not tolerate any kind of violence, against women or men, he adds. “A person like Andrew Tate will not be allowed to glorify violence against women. He will be in jail.”

‘Women here still face bias’

Singapore has rolled out large-scale initiatives to recognise and promote gender equality in recent years, says Shanmugam.

The Ministry of Social and Family Development declared 2021 the Year of Celebrating SG Women. Last year, the government published the White Paper on Singapore Women’s Development, built on engagement with over 6,000 Singaporean participants.

“The White Paper identifies key areas to be worked on and makes useful recommendations,” says Shanmugam. “It is an important blueprint for the future, to help create a more equitable society for women.”

While women’s development has come quite far in Singapore, the White Paper acknowledges that there is some way to go, he adds. “Women here still face bias, stereotypes and obstacles. Perceptions and practices that have formed over time immemorial — in all societies — and are difficult to root out overnight.”

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