Employees not seeing DEI, gender pay equality progress in Singapore

Employers warned of 'considerable repercussions' if stagnation not addressed

Employees not seeing DEI, gender pay equality progress in Singapore

Singapore is reporting a "concerning stagnation" when it comes to gender pay equality and DEI practices, as nearly half of workers there feel their organisations aren't making much progress on both fronts.

The latest findings of ADP Research Institute's People at Work 2023: A Global Workforce View found that 47% of Singapore-based employees did not see any improvement on their company's gender pay equality in the past three years.

Similarly, 43% of the respondents said their organisation's DEI remains "the same" compared to three years ago.

These findings are much behind the progress reported across the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region, including Australia, China, and India. According to the report, more than half of the respondents there said their companies are performing better when it comes to gender pay equality (55.5%) and DEI (57.8%) in the past three years.

"This stagnation is concerning when compared to the rest of APAC as it suggests that Singapore-based companies, which depend heavily on human capital, have not kept up with the rest of the region with regards to inclusivity," said Yvonne Teo, Vice President of HR, APAC, ADP.

The most common, effective DEI practice

Despite the reported lack of progress, however, employers and employees seem to agree that staff training is the most effective DEI initiative in workplaces.

The ADP report found that staff training is the most cited initiative that the respondents' organisations participate in (47.3%) and is also perceived as the most effective one (27.1%).

Other initiatives that organisations participate in include:

  • Awareness events (30.1%)
  • Mentoring (28.0%)
  • Targeted recruiting (26.0%)
  • Review of company demographics to identify areas of improvement (25.6%)
  • Business resource groups (17.8%)
  • Minimum DEI quotas (15.5%)

Meanwhile, the most effective DEI initiatives for employees aside from training include:

  • Review of company demographics to identify areas of improvement (13.9%)
  • Mentoring (11.9%)
  • Awareness events (11.0%)
  • Targeted recruiting (9.0%
  • Business resource groups (6.3%)
  • Minimum DEI quotes (6.2%)

According to the survey, 21.4% of the respondents said their companies "don't participate in any DEI initiatives." And for 13.3%, they don't think any DEI initiative is most effective.

What can employers do to improve DEI?

It is important for Singapore's businesses to address the perceived stagnation of their DEI and gender pay equality practices, according to Teo, as she cited the state's "multi-ethnic workforce and increasingly global labour pool."

"Failing to address DEI and gender equality practices can have considerable repercussions on talent retention, as talented employees might look at greener pastures where their differences are valued," Teo said.

One way to address the problem is through payroll data, which employers can use to identify gender or ethnic pay gaps in the workplace, according to Teo.

"Companies should also consider investing regularly on the promotion of new roles and job openings to a different cohort of applicants, while supporting internal initiatives that foster connections and champion diversity," she said.

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