SINGAPORE (Aug 8): Singapore may be the only Asian city to make it to Dell’s global top 10 list for the ability to foster high-potential women entrepreneurs (HPWE), but still has room for improvement in areas such as work-life balance and hiring policies.

This is according to Dell Technologies’ research on HPWE over the past six years, which ranked cities based on the five characteristics of capital, technology, talent, culture and markets.

Based on the technology firm’s latest 2017 Women Entrepreneur Cities (WE Cities) Index, Singapore ranked eight globally of all the cities measured in terms of ability to foster HWPE, ahead of Toronto and Seattle placed ninth and tenth, respectively.

Of the dimensions measured by Dell’s study, Singapore was deemed to perform particularly well on policies that can help shape a supportive culture for women entrepreneurs as well as provide capital. It scored well above the median level in the areas of safety and security, ease of starting a business, and access to open and flexible technology.

However, the city state ranked relatively lower than its peers in the areas of markets and talent, while also faring well below the median for policy for “equal remuneration for work of equal values (fair pay)" and policy for “non-discrimination based on gender in hiring”.

In a Tuesday release, Dell says these discrepancies represent an opportunity where Singapore can make significant progress for women entrepreneurs.

Aside from deep-dive analyses developed in partnership with IHS Markit, the firm has also established ten “WE City Blueprints” for each of the top 10 cities of its index to spotlight actions a city can take to improve the ecosystem for women entrepreneurs.

With regards to Singapore, Dell says the city state will have to address its imbalances in work-life balance as well as access to capital, in order to unlock the potential of its women entrepreneurs.

For example, the city state falls right behind Beijing and Shanghai for having the highest female labour force participation rate (LFPR) at 60.4%. It notably lacks a policy for “equal remunerator for work of equal value”, although it does fall among the majority of Asian cities with a paid paternity leave policy.

“Singaporean society places a high value on meritocratic advancement, leaving behind under-represented groups as a result… The government has taken some steps to rectify unbalanced representation, but large gaps remain,” observes the firm.

As such, Dell recommends focusing on the implementation of policies to help women return to work after having children, which it believes will help women get the experience they need to found successful businesses.

Further policies that improve work-life balance, and a commitment to encourage employees to take advantage of those policies, would also help women to take on leadership roles, it adds.

See: Name-and-shame approach puts more women on Singapore boards

Noting that only 10% of Singapore’s company board positions are filled by women, Dell also believes that Singapore should encourage women to serve in such leadership roles by promoting them more publicly.

“Policies that given women more access to capital, including working towards equal pay, will be important in encouraging women to pursue entrepreneurial opportunities,” concludes the firm.