Goals for the next three years: Reduce the gender gap by more than 10% and raise the country’s female employment rate to 61.9%
“We will strive to produce female CEOs as well as make the workplace more women-friendly,” said Jeong Geumyong, Vice President of Samsung Electronics, at a conference entitled ‘Taking action: achieving gender equality and tapping the talent of women.’
The conference was attended by other business leaders from the country’s renowned companies like the Hyundai Motor Company and LG Corporation along with government representatives. As members of the task force (hereinafter referred to as ‘The Task Force’) launched by the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family in cooperation with the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the World Economic Forum, they showed their commitment to increase the country’s female employment rate from 53.9% to 61.9% and reduce the gender gap by more than 10%. According to the latest Global Gender Gap Report published by the World Economic Forum, Korea ranked 111 out of 136 countries.
The Task Force is the first-ever public-private partnership aimed at boosting female employment rate. Participated by 100 private companies and 17 government departments, the Task Force will be carrying out 80 projects for the next three years in order to expand female employment, reach an ideal work-life balance, enhance women’s representation, and promote gender equality.
During the conference, business leaders introduced policies they already implemented to utilize women’s talent and announced their future plans as well.
Jeong from Samsung Electronics showcased to the audience some achievements of corporate policies executed, since twenty years ago, to recruit more female employees. He highlighted “For the next couple of years, Samsung will do our best to train the next generation of female leaders and make the workplace more women-friendly by ensuring that more workers take parental leave and by providing nursing rooms at the company-level.
Reporting that women accounted for 50% of white collar jobs, Han Seong-gwon, Vice President of the Hyundai Motor Company, unveiled the company’s plans to open more part-time positions for career-interrupted women and recruit about 1000 talented women this year.
Min Heekyung, Vice President of CJ Corporation, presented some tangible results of ‘Returnship,’ a program that has been helping married women overcome the employment discontinuity. She promised “Annually, we will hire about 300 women who had to give up their career for various reasons including child care. Also, we are planning to share our experiences and know-how so that the program may be introduced by other companies too.”
To everyone’s surprise, Shirley Yu-Tsui, President of IBM Korea, made her presentation in Korean, saying “Through women’s council in operation, IBM Korea will increase the number of women in managerial positions by setting up a team dedicated to gender equality.”
Yu Pilgye, Vice President of LG Corporation, stated “Currently speaking, women make up 30% of new employees. Beginning this year, however, the percentage is likely to grow as we try to shatter stereotypes about women and screen job applicants in a more resonable way, instead of judging their potential according to the so-called ‘spec,’ a list of achievements and certificates considered the key to employment. To offer equal opportunities for both men and women, we have to bring about desired change across the society, going well beyond amending relevant laws and systems. I would like to urge the government to provide support.”
President Park Geunhye sent a video message, saying “We are living in an age where the power of women determines a nation’s competitiveness. Establishing an environment where women can realize their full potential is not only in their best interest, but also beneficial for national development. Without changing people’s perceptions and heightening private sector involvement, we can’t utilize women’s potential nor realize our dream of gender equality. I hope that gender equality would take root and that our society would further improve through the hard work of the Task Force.”
To assist the planning and implementation of projects of the Task Force, the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family and the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry would form a team together. Also, they will come up with detailed plans to incentivize companies to attain their goals.
Nevertheless, some people are concerned that few companies compiled concrete, realistic strategies and that the government did not provide related guidelines nor incentives. Others pointed out that the creation of part-time, irregular jobs will not guarantee job security and that it can’t constitute a fundamental solution, raising a doubt about the effectiveness of the Task Force.
Meanwhile, on July 11, the Task Force will hold its first forum to work out detailed plans.