Within the span of less than a year, both Singapore & Malaysia made history in the political arena with women appointed at vital governmental positions for the first time. In Singapore, Halimah Yacob was elected the President of Singapore while Dr. Wan Azizah was officially made as the first women deputy prime minister in Malaysia. This major milestone for women wasn’t just for the two countries but for Southeast Asia as well where only 30 women per-every 100 men are in leadership positions.
This is especially vital for ecommerce, who in recent years received much limelight when giants such as Google & Temasek predicted that the internet economy is slated to be worth more than US$8.2 billion in Malaysia and US$5.4 billion in Singapore by year 2025. The bright future of ecommerce was further lit up when Amazon entered Singapore mid-2017 and Alibaba establishing the first Digital Free Trade Zone (DFTZ) outside of China in Malaysia.
While there is no lack of technology and investment in ecommerce, it is paramount that consumers of different demographics are represented in the top levels of its managerial team in order to fully realise the full potential of the industry. But as we looked into the private sector of ecommerce, we noticed there was a lack of women leaders in top ecommerce companies from Singapore & Malaysia.
More Men Than Women at the Highest Management Levels
To derive our findings, we analysed more than 600 employees in managerial positions from Singapore & Malaysia’s top 15 most visited ecommerce platforms of Q2 2018. We found that there were more men than women at the highest management levels. Only 17% of women in Singapore and 9% of women in Malaysia were in C-level positions. What was more interesting was that there were more women in C-level positions in Vietnam at 23% and Philippines at 21%.
More so, women currently hold a big share of Malaysia’s demographic today. The Malaysian Communications & Multimedia Commission highlighted that 57% of online shoppers today are women. A similar percentage is seen in Singapore as well.
This makes it paramount that women’s views should be represented at vital decision-making stages of ecommerce platforms. People crafting technology have the power to influence how it works & it requires the minds of various demographic to maximise its effectiveness to all consumers. Hence, gender diversity is important for the people who make & use technology.
Much can be learnt from Philippines who has consistently performed as one of the most gender-equal workplace in the world. Philippines took the helm in Southeast Asia with the highest number of women in leadership, technical and professional roles as seen in the Global Gender Gap Index.
The Philippines fared well in the political empowerment of women specifically on women handling managerial and executive positions and labour force participation. The rationale for these findings is in the general upward mobility of women in the Philippines which makes its talent pool robust. For instance, the country’s legislature, Magna Carta of Women Act in 2009 promotes gender equality in government by mandating quotas for the proportion of women in government jobs. The same legislature has encouraged the private sector to follow the trend.