Trade associations and business chambers pledge support for fair hiring, employment practices

Member companies are urged to "remain committed to recruiting deserving candidates fairly based on merit". ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE - Trade associations and chambers (TACs) pledged their support for fair hiring and employment practices on Tuesday (Jan 19).

In a joint statement released by the Singapore Business Federation, 29 TACs urged their member companies to "remain committed to recruiting deserving candidates fairly based on merit".

They added that they are guided by the Fair Consideration Framework and the Tripartite Guidelines for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices, which underline employers' commitment to developing a "strong Singaporean core".

The 29 TACs represent multinational companies, large local enterprises, and small and medium-sized enterprises. They include the Association of Small and Medium Enterprises, the British Chamber of Commerce Singapore and the Association of Banks in Singapore.

In the joint statement, the TACs said they believe in three core principles: promoting positive workplace relations, practising fair hiring, and providing development opportunities.

On promoting positive workplace relations, the TACs said: "Work is a collaboration between employers and employees, among employees and between work teams in Singapore and other countries.

"Diversity of employees is important for businesses to foster innovation, creativity and inclusivity of ideas, and to enhance effective teamwork and business growth."

To this end, employers need to take the lead to build and sustain with their employees a positive workplace environment for all, they added.

"This includes an environment where diversity is celebrated and individuals are respected, trained and developed on an equal opportunity basis," said the TACs.

Meanwhile, employees will need to collaborate with their employers on building and sustaining a positive workplace environment by "bringing a positive attitude to work each day".

Second, on practising fair hiring, the TACs said employers must hire the best candidate for every job, based on merit.

"The candidates may be qualified employees within the company, external candidates based in Singapore, or international candidates if there are no suitable local candidates," they added.

Employers should also ensure that there is diversity among the global talent hired, "in order to bring the best perspectives, experiences and support for long-term success".

"Doing so helps promote inclusive integration, equity and capability development among employees," the TACs added.

Lastly, employers should support the learning and development of employees so they can acquire the relevant skills and attributes to do their job and be considered for leadership positions in the future, said the TACs.

They should also consider all suitably qualified current employees when looking for candidates for leadership roles in the company, they added.

Employees, meanwhile, should actively undertake development opportunities offered by employers, including accepting overseas work assignments to broaden their experience and acquire new skills to support regional and global businesses.

"Such overseas experience will be advantageous for career progression," said the TACs.

Speaking during a media conference, SBF chairman Lim Ming Yan said the Covid-19 pandemic resulted in more pressures on the employment situation in Singapore, prompting the TACs to assure Singaporeans that employers remain committed to fair hiring practices.

"This is the approach that we have taken. It is not something new, but making that pledge today is important to reinforce this and to encourage our members to come on board, if they are not already on board," said Mr Lim.

He was joined by several heads of TACs at the media conference, including Mr Andrew Kwan, president of the Restaurant Association of Singapore, who said the joint statement is a timely reminder for companies as they adjust the size and composition of their workforce as a result of Covid-19.

Singapore International Chamber of Commerce chairman Per Magnusson said Singapore must continue to allow companies to freely recruit talent based on merit if it wants to remain competitive globally.

"We should remember that 99 per cent, or even more than 99 per cent, of all companies in Singapore actually do hire fairly... We should focus on that majority that does it right," he added.

European Chamber of Commerce in Singapore president Federico Donato, The Association of Banks in Singapore vice-chairman John Lee and SGTech executive director Yean Cheong were among the others at the media conference.

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