Seven in 10 Singapore-based employers have not introduced diversity, equality and inclusion policies: report

THE majority of Singapore firms recognise the positive impact of diversity, equality and inclusion (DE&I) but seven in 10 have yet to introduce DE&I policies, according to a report by the Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF) and human capital firm Kincentric.

The survey of 186 Singapore-based employers spanning 19 sectors found that 71 per cent of employers recognised the positive impact of DE&I on company culture and 55 per cent recognised its impact on employee engagement.

About six in 10 (62 per cent) have made a headstart toward incorporating DE&I as a factor of their hiring and promotion.

One-fourth of those surveyed highlighted the lack of available data such as gender pay gap, inequality in career progression, age-based performance and barriers to participation in work for those with disabilities or caring responsibilities as challenges to implement DE&I.

The remaining firms highlighted the inability to embed DE&I into organisational values, people management and employee behaviour (24 per cent), and at times, the ineffectiveness of line managers when managing their teams in a non-discriminatory manner (22 per cent).

Standalone events such as International Women’s Day celebrations are viewed as less effective (11 per cent), as most companies have yet to implement DE&I policies and do not engage their staff over a long term.

Andrew How, managing partner at Kincentric, said: “We have observed that many firms struggle in making employees feel emotionally safe, understood and empowered. Therefore, the first step to remedying the situation is to conduct an honest, internal assessment of the organisation’s current situation using a holistic, evidence-based approach.”

Following which, they need to enact new ways of leading which involves creating active, intentional efforts with coaching, developmental journeys, tools and resources to improve one’s ability to identify and mitigate any unconscious bias, he said.

Kincentric added that DE&I pulse surveys and focus groups can help senior leaders track sentiments and progress on DE&I efforts and goals given that there is often a significant gap between the perception of diversity and inclusion, and the reality within the organisation.

Employers can tap on the initiative which is managed by SNEF and supports employers’ efforts to foster workplace integration. Firms in Singapore can also apply for the Community Integration Fund which provides co-funding of up to 80 per cent of the total qualifying costs. This is capped at S$100 per person or S$30,000, whichever is lower.

Firms can further benefit from briefings, workshops and WSQ courses, conducted by SNEF, to better understand, appreciate and build DE&I at the workplace.

SNEF executive director Sim Gim Guan said: “By managing DE&I better, employers can strengthen workplace relations, collaboration and innovation. Building on workplace fairness, employers can develop inclusive workplace policies and practices that will attract and retain the best talent.”