A busy week for diversity and inclusion issues in Singapore

23 September 2019 Consultancy.asia 3 min. read
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The subject of diversity and inclusion has been front and centre this week in Singapore, with research consultancy Kantar setting the ball rolling with the revelation Singapore had the second-highest rates of workplace bullying among 14 leading economies worldwide.

Singapore has the second-highest rate of reported workplace bullying among 14 developed economies worldwide, with close a quarter of local workers having experienced being bullied, harassed or undermined over the past year alone. This was the finding of research and data consultancy Kantar’s inaugural inclusion and diversity study which surveyed 18,000 respondents worldwide – with the results landing the city-state at second-to-last on the Inclusion Index.

“The Inclusion Index is the first of its kind – a single source of truth that brings different perspectives within businesses together to better inform mind-sets, behaviours and strategy,” said Kantar global CEO Caroline Frankum, who in a busy week or so was also named among the HERoes Women Role Model Executives list for 2019, a celebration of 100 leading international business women who are driving change to increase gender diversity in the workplace.

Among other insights, the Kantar research found that at the global level 27 percent of women have been made to feel through bullying tactics that they don’t belong in their workplace. And while 80 percent of all employees have observed or experienced discrimination, only one in three have felt empowered to escalate the issue at work. Topping the Inclusion Index was Canada, with the nation’s high female representation at senior levels (over 40%) cited as one explanation.

Diversity Score

And the release of the Kantar report just so happened to coincide with the second Women’s Forum Asia in Singapore – where greater women’s participation in both workplaces and corporate boards was firmly on the agenda. Bringing together 700-odd delegates from across the world to discuss inclusion innovation over the three-day event, the forum kicked off with a call from Singapore’s president Halimah Yacob for greater diversity in leadership positions.

Citing a McKinsey & Company study from last year which concluded that advancing women’s equality across the Asia Pacific could add as much as $4.5 trillion in collective annual regional GDP in 2025, Yacob stated; “Organisations in Singapore must continue to embrace diversity in leadership positions, which has been shown to lead to positive impact on business profitability, a more robust corporate governance, as well as fresh and innovative perspectives.”

Elsewhere during the forum, a panel featuring a number of international female executives discussed the potential of legislative measures on corporate board quotas to reduce gender inequality, with Louise Harvey, chairman of strategic communications at FTI Consulting, stating that in order to bring about gender quotas, stakeholders must first “be prepared to challenge people in leadership roles to make change”.

With Accenture serving as a global partner (the firm also incidentally this week named the world’s number one public company for diversity & inclusion on Refinitiv’s annual index), other speakers at the Women’s Forum from the local consulting realm included Capgemini Asia Pacific Managing Director Aruna Jayanthi, who was appointed to the top role last year; Cherine Fok, Director for Sustainability Services at KPMG Singapore; and Deloitte Asia Pacific Chief Talent Officer Elizabeth Faber.