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Organisations should have policies and practices to manage diversity: Teo Ser Luck

With a fair and inclusive workforce, employees will feel more valued and engaged, which leads to better performance and business outcomes, says Minister of State for Manpower Teo Ser Luck.

SINGAPORE: Organisations should have policies in place to manage diversity when rolling out fair hiring and employment practices, said Minister of State for Manpower Teo Ser Luck on Tuesday (Mar 8).

Mr Teo, who was speaking at a conference on diversity and leadership, organised by the Singapore Management University (SMU) and Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF), was encouraging more organisations to ensure that employees of different races, genders, cultures and backgrounds feel included as part of their teams.

Having greater diversity at the workplace brings together a variety of skills, and perspectives that are important to the economy, especially in a tight labour market, Mr Teo said.

He added that with a fair and inclusive workforce, employees will feel more valued and engaged, which leads to better performance and business outcomes.

By tapping into other sources of labour, such as back-to-work women, older workers and those with disabilities, employers will also have access to a wider pool of talent, especially in today's tight labour market.

He added that employee selection should be based on merit, with Singaporeans considered fairly for all job opportunities.

HR PRACTITIONERS HAVE A ROLE TO PLAY

"It is important that there must be an ecosystem and environment for them to interact closely. It's especially important for human resource (HR) practitioners to implement many of the different programmes and also to participate, be it through sports, be it through other things," said Mr Teo.

For example, companies can tap on the Singapore Workforce Development Agency's WorkPro programme to redesign jobs to better accommodate and tap on the skills and experience of older workers, he added.

Ms Anika Grant, APAC and ASEAN HR Director at Accenture, said they have a role as a coach to their business leaders. “We help them think inclusively … we have a role to ensure that we have the right policies and the right frameworks in place in order to enable women to be successful. For example, maternity leave, childcare and flexible work arrangements.”

However, there can be challenges in implementation. Group managing director of social enterprise events agency Adrenalin, Richardo Chua, said: "I spoke about the wheelchair bound colleagues. For example, if it's raining, it's very hard for them to get to work. We have to understand that because there is a lack of shelter, they might have to come to work late. Will you be able to accept that?”

The agency, which has around 35 staff, said it values the contributions of staff with special needs. About 30 per cent of its employees are such staff, and it has adapted work practices to make all employees feel welcome.

"We've hired folks recovering from mental illness, for example, and sometimes the medication causes them to be extremely drowsy in the morning so sometimes, they have to come in a bit later," Mr Chua said.

The conference was organised in line with International Women's Day on Mar 8, and included speakers who touched on gender diversity and the importance of having women in decision-making roles. About 300 people, including employers, HR practitioners and students attended the conference.