Business in South Korea told to address workplace gender equality
South Korean businesses should prioritise gender equality in corporate governance to help tackle the nation’s low fertility rate, said labour minister Lee Jung-sik.
“A key solution to the fertility, ageing and productive problem is helping women raise children happily without having to worry about giving up jobs,” he explained. “But there still isn’t a noticeable level of effort for women at the environmental, social and governance (ESG) level.”
“The shrinking workforce means fewer people, slower growth and more fighting for scarce resources and that’s not a sustainable society”, Lee added.
Existing corporate culture prevents women from taking time off for children, due to unspoken pressure to follow what is commonly practised, he explained. “Korean women are among the world’s most educated, yet still account for a ridiculously small share of the workforce,” he noted.
South Korea has the smallest share of parents who go on leave for their children among developed nations, which has contributed to the world’s lowest fertility rate.
The labour minister also intends to push the rate of occupational deaths to the OECD average by the end of President Yoon’s five-year term. To date, South Korea still accounts for a relatively high number of fatal injuries compared to other OECD members.