The Law Society of Singapore has announced the release of “Levelling the Playing Field”, its first-ever report into gender diversity and inclusion in the Singapore legal profession.

The data for the report has been gathered over the course of the past two years and examines the experience of female practitioners across the profession,

The data involved was collected from over 500 female members of the Singapore legal profession, as well as a series of roundtable sessions with participation from (i) female lawyers across all seniority levels; (ii) managing partners, hiring managers, and recruiting partners (both male and female); and (iii) male lawyers.

The report also includes recommendations from the Women in Practice (WIP) Committee on mentorship and sponsorship; flexible work arrangements; training and awareness of unconscious bias; and addressing sexual harassment and bullying.

WIP Committee Co-Chairperson, Simran Toor, says: “More can be done for women lawyers in Singapore, at all levels of seniority and experience. While the data did not reveal any prevalent problems with harassment or bullying, which is encouraging, it did reveal that unconscious bias remains a deeply rooted issue within the legal practice. There are still strong misperceptions that an equal playing field is available to both genders, that progression is purely a function of merit, and that the larger number of male lawyers at senior levels is due to independent choice-making by female lawyers to leave the profession, rather than any form of unconscious bias or inequality.”

Felicia Tan, Co-Chairperson of the WIP Committee, adds: “There is also a lack of understanding on how diversity in the workplace and embracing flexible working arrangements could translate to commercial benefit; with many still believing that diversity initiatives are rooted only in altruism or inconsistent with the ideals of meritocracy. This pandemic has also shown how flexible working arrangements need not undercut productivity. We hope that the contents of this Report will raise awareness of the issues amongst members of the legal profession so that the Singapore legal profession can attract and retain the best talent, both male and female.”

Read the full report here. 

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