Majority of Singapore employers have no diversity and inclusion policies
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Seven in ten Singapore-based employers have yet to introduce a diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) policy into their business, citing challenges such as culture, compliance, and managerial ineffectiveness, according to the findings of a new report.

The report from the Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF) and Kincentric surveyed 186 companies across 19 sectors on the Little Red Dot to find that, despite the lack of formal policies, almost two-thirds (62%) of Singapore employers consider DEI as a factor when hiring and promoting workers.

Moreover, most companies said they believed in the importance of DEI, which has had a positive impact on areas such as company culture (71%) and employee engagement (55%).

However, one-quarter of employers surveyed found it challenging to implement DEI due to the lack of available data, such as the gender pay gap, inequality in career progression, age-based performance, and barriers to participation in work for those with disabilities or caring responsibilities.

The remaining employers were hindered by an inability to embed DEI into organisational values, people management, and employee behaviour (24%), and at times the ineffectiveness of line managers when managing their teams in a non-discriminatory manner (22%).

Events and celebrations aimed at raising awareness of diversity, such as International Women’s Day, are viewed as less effective (11%) in Singapore, as most companies have yet to implement DEI policies and do not engage their staff over the long term, the report states.

According to Kincentric, there is a significant gap between the perception of diversity and inclusion, and reality within an organisation. To overcome this, the human capital firm recommends regular pulse surveys and focus groups to help senior leaders track sentiments and progress on DEI efforts and goals.

Andrew How, the firm’s managing partner, said: “Business leaders have come to realise that DEI is the need of the hour as firms set foot in the post-pandemic world. To set direction and demonstrate commitment, it is crucial to lead by example. Having advised senior leaders, 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. It is a much-needed reality check to assess where the gaps are. Following which, they need to enact new ways of leading which involve creating active, intentional efforts with coaching, developmental journeys, tools and resources to improve one’s ability to identify and mitigate any unconscious bias.”

Sim Gim Guan, executive director of SNEF, added: “While the vast majority of Singapore employers are fair, they have yet to harness the full potential of a diverse workforce and how DEI can help them to cast the net wider to attract talent. By managing DEI 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.”