7 in 10 Singapore employers yet to have diversity, equality and inclusion policies: Report

About six in 10 companies have made a head start towards incorporating diversity, equality and inclusion as a factor of their hiring and promotion. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE (THE BUSINESS TIMES) - The majority of Singapore firms recognise the positive impact of diversity, equality and inclusion (DEI), but seven in 10 have yet to introduce such policies, according to a report by the Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF) and Kincentric.

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

About six in 10 (62 per cent) have made a head start towards incorporating DEI as a factor of their hiring and promotion.

But one-fourth of those surveyed highlighted the lack of related data, such as on gender pay gap, inequality in career progression, age-based performance and barriers to participation in work for those with disabilities or caring responsibilities, as a challenge to implement DEI.

The remaining firms highlighted the inability to embed DEI into organisational values, and 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).

Stand-alone events such as International Women's Day celebrations are viewed as less effective (11 per cent), as most companies have yet to implement DEI policies and do not engage their staff over a long term.

Mr 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 DEI pulse surveys and focus groups can help senior leaders track sentiments and progress on DEI 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 the OneWorkplace.sg 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, capped at $100 a person or $30,000, whichever is lower.

Firms can further benefit from briefings, workshops and Workforce Skills Qualifications courses, conducted by SNEF, to better understand, appreciate and build DEI at the workplace.

SNEF executive director Sim Gim Guan said: "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."

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