SINGAPORE Press Holdings (SPH) emerged the biggest winner at the Singapore HR Awards 2012 yesterday, presented by the Singapore Human Resources Institute (SHRI).

It bagged seven awards including the highest honour of Corporate HR Champion. It is the first time SPH has won this award.

Chief executive Alan Chan said: 'It is an honour to receive the coveted Corporate HR Champion Award this year. We are proud that our HR practices and corporate social responsibility efforts are once again recognised by SHRI. We will continue with our efforts to develop and build an effective team of human capital in our organisation.'

Ms Mable Chan, executive vice-president of human resources, added: 'Human capital is our best asset and we will continuously strive to improve on our HR policies and practices to help motivate and develop our staff to meet their career development goals and our company's business challenges.'

SPH also picked up a Corporate HR Award; three awards in the Leading HR Practices category for learning and human capital development, HR communications and branding and E-HR Management (Special Mention); as well as two awards in the Special Category for corporate social responsibility and fair employment practices.

Other winners of the Corporate HR Award included IBM Singapore, the Institute of Technical Education and Sentosa Leisure Group.

In all, 117 awards were given to around 40 companies yesterday, out of 42 that took part.

SHRI vice-president Erman Tan said: 'The overwhelming response in participation rate indicates that more employers are beginning to refine their HR policies and schemes to benefit the current workforce.'

He added that SHRI has set up a mentorship scheme this year, with 'some 50 senior HR and people managers' as mentors.

The awards were handed out yesterday evening at the Ritz-Carlton Millenia by guest of honour Foo Mee Har, an MP for West Coast GRC.

In a speech, she called on human resource practitioners to 'offer a chance to many women and older workers who have the desire to do an honest day's work, provided they are given the right opportunity and the right level of support'.

Ms Foo said women's labour force participation remained low at only 57 per cent compared with men at 77 per cent.

'Among women who work, few make it to leadership positions,' she added, suggesting that companies consider 'flexi-work arrangements' to help women juggle 'family and work demands'.

Ms Foo also singled out local professionals, managers and executives (PMEs), whom she said were 'understandably anxious about their access to quality jobs and their career prospects'.

'You can play a key role in assuring Singaporeans that, before the company looks outside the country, Singaporean PMEs will be considered first for the best jobs, that the company will invest in their training and development to fill these quality jobs in the future, that their prospects continue to be bright, and that their wages are not being artificially depressed,' she said.