Standard Chartered HRD: 'Our goal is to be a disability-confident organisation'

Do your leaders 'walk the talk' on inclusivity?

Standard Chartered HRD: 'Our goal is to be a disability-confident organisation'

Many organisations like to talk about being inclusive, but how many actually apply it in practice? Standard Chartered bank in Singapore is one firm that actually ‘walks the talk’. They’ve long committed to embracing the multifaceted aspects of diversity and inclusion across the organisation, including disability inclusion. This year alone they’ve hired two people with disabilities (PWD), one of whom is on the HR team.

Read more: Are employees with disabilities neglected in Singapore?

Commitment to strengths-based hiring

Caleb Tay, analyst, HR, specialist delivery at Standard Chartered Singapore, who’s visually impaired, was hired in March this year. Like many individuals his age, jobhunting as a fresh grad during a pandemic was particularly trying. A study by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), for instance, found that more than one in six Gen Z employees was forced to stop working due to COVID-19. A more recent report by DHL Group found high levels of job anxiety levels amongst young workers – almost all (95%) Gen Z-ers believed that the pandemic will affect their job prospects.

Those anxieties were realised when Tay faced rejections after applying for many roles. Unfortunately, many of those rejections were also due to his visual impairment. With a little help from SG Enable, an agency dedicated to enabling PWDs, Tay was able to secure an interview and successfully get onboarded as a trainee under the bank’s SGUnited traineeships program. SG Enable had offered him guidance during the jobhunting process and helped link him up with the bank, which is committed to strengths-based hiring.

“I’m fortunate to be recognised for my abilities rather than disabilities here and am thankful for the support the bank and my team have shown me thus far,” Tay said. “My colleagues are extremely understanding of my potential mobility inconveniences and are always proactive and open to lending a helping hand where needed.”

Read more: 5 things equal opportunity employers should know

The value of being an equal opportunity employer

Speaking to Charlotte Thng, head of HR, Singapore, Australia & ASEAN markets at Standard Chartered, she shared that the bank is committed to ‘lifting participation’ in the workforce and hires potential candidates based on their strengths – regardless of their background. Their goal is to be a disability-confident organisation that focuses on removing barriers.

The bank’s success in driving a culture of inclusivity is due to their holistic approach of increasing accessibility for all colleagues through multiple angles:

  • Physical: The bank provides all staff with the relevant work equipment and has modified entry doors for PWD colleagues.
  • Social: Employees and line managers host lunch and collaboration sessions on a regular basis to keep teams connected.
  • Mental: They bank offers access to a buddy program and employee assistance program to all colleagues, including PWDs.

“Our focus has always been on championing an inclusive workplace focused on strengths and capabilities [so that] employees feel included,” said Thng. Their commitment to enabling equal opportunity internally and externally in the community is evident in their efforts on sustaining the Enable Network. Established in 2015, the network is one of five D&I employee resource groups (ERGs) that supports the goal of making the bank an inclusive workplace for all colleagues with different abilities. Their focus lies in raising awareness and celebrating the abilities of PWDs internally.

Read more: Microsoft chief: How to treat employees with disabilities better

To ensure that they continuously recruit PWDs among its ranks, the bank has tapped on the network and successfully paired 24 mentors and mentees from local higher educational institutions like NUS and Singapore Polytechnic and secured their talent pipeline. Standard Chartered is also a founding member of the Singapore Business Network on Disability (SBNoD), a community of businesses who collaborate to share expertise, experience, networks and resources to help advance the inclusion of persons with disabilities in the working world.

“Removing barriers and increasing accessibility ensures that everyone has an equal opportunity to realise their potential, succeed and excel,” said Thng.

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