Is There Inclusion In Singapore?
Written By: Hafiz Asri
Published On: 13th December 2022
According to an article from The Straits Times, 7 in 10 Singapore employers are yet to have diversity, equality and inclusion policies.
When we think of diversity, Singapore easily comes to mind. Race, religion, gender, orientation, disability etc. We know that Singapore is a multi-racial country. How accepting we are, however, remains debatable. Tolerating is not inclusion. Acceptance is. So what is the difference between diversity and inclusion? Let’s take a look at what Diversity and Inclusion mean first.
“Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance.” – Vernã Myers
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According to Oxford dictionary, diversity is “the practice or quality of including or involving people from a range of different social and ethnic backgrounds and of different genders, sexual orientations, etc.”
In a workplace, however, we can’t only include people of social categories. We need to include different working styles, personalities, etc. This is to ensure that we get as much as a 360 viewpoint as possible. Even a simple thing as having a Mac or Windows in the workplace. It is encouraged to include a mix and not having all employees using entirely on one operating system. For example, in your company, you can view a format just fine but when you send it to a client who is using a different operating system and they can’t view it, having another system on a different format send the file may fix the issue.
Then, what is inclusion? According to the Oxford dictionary, Inclusion is “the practice or policy of providing equal access to opportunities and resources for people who might otherwise be excluded or marginalized, such as those who have physical or intellectual disabilities and members of other minority groups.”
To provide an example, a company can hire a diverse group of people. However, they may not be inclusive in their job processes or culture. Having a company lunch and not having a vegetarian option for that one employee is not inclusive. Neither is employing someone in a wheelchair but providing an unsuitable toilet.
Studies on Diversity VS Inclusion
Based on the understanding of diversity and inclusion, which is the ideal goal we want to achieve? What is the point of diversifying the environment if you’re just going to alienate some people?
Not only as an organization but as a society, we should aim to be an inclusive community instead of just aiming for a diverse one just for the sake of it. People want to be appreciated. People want to feel welcomed. If they feel left out, they will seek validation somewhere else.
According to the McKinsey report named, Why Diversity Matters, companies in the quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35% more likely to have financial returns.
That is based on diversity. What about inclusion? Well, a Deloitte Review Issue 22, January 2018 titled “The Diversity And Inclusion Revolution: Eight Powerful Truths” by Juliet Bourke and Bernadette Dillon reported diversity + inclusion = better business outcomes. How? One of the underestimated ways is having an inclusive leadership.
Singapore Government’s Efforts To Build A More Inclusive Society
With the Singapore government’s efforts to build a more inclusive society with Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong stating that Singaporeans want to build a society which embraces diversity across racial and ethnic groups and which will be inclusive for people with disabilities and the elderly. This is after the government released Enabling Masterplan 2030 with a vision for Singapore as an inclusive society in 2030.
SG Enable has also been building on the goal towards 2030 by launching Enabling Academy in May 2022 which is a disability learning hub to educate partners from the different sectors such as education, business and disability to provide responsive and quality opportunities for persons with disabilities.
As recently as 3rd December 2022, an annual event was held to promote inclusivity as well. Run For Inclusion is organised annually to promote integration and nurture an inclusive Singapore for the people with special needs. This is one of the few running events in Singapore where participants run alongside other runners with special needs.
Run For Inclusion will be a rallying call for Singaporeans to come together and show their support towards integrating people with special needs. The event was held at Singapore Turf Club on a lovely Saturday afternoon with President Halimah Yacob as Guest Of Honor at the event.
If you are a company and would like to sponsor for your staff to attend the course, you can also apply for Absentee Payroll (AP) if applicable. There are government fundings for Singapore Citizens, Permanent Residents (PR) and Long Term Visit Pass Plus (LTVP+).
With all the efforts the government and organizations are making, we will be in a better position to claim ourselves as an inclusive society in 2030.
Understanding and Interacting with Persons with Disability
With the additional efforts for inclusivity in Singapore, how else can we promote inclusivity? In order to be inclusive, we need to acknowledge the gaps, biases, and privileges we have. We can look up to and learn about the diverse individuals around us to help us to understand them. There are also courses that you can attend. For example, Understanding & Interacting with Persons With Disabilities is a Workforce Skills Qualifications (WSQ) certified course where you can use your SkillsFuture credits to identify and understand the needs and concerns of people with physical, emotional, learning, and intellectual disabilities. The course will be suitable for people who may encounter PwDs in their work or community activities and need to ensure the safety of people with disabilities when required to interact and accompany them in the course of their work.
The table above shows the fee for Company-Sponsored, Non-SME.
With the affordability of the course and the funding provided by SkillsFuture Singapore to improve employability and skills, it is a great opportunity to take up. The course provided by All Hearts is also a blended learning course where you can do your pre-reading and learning before the face to face classroom session so you could do it at your own time and target within a certain time.
Programme Development Manager
Disapproving headshakes accompanied by a disappointing sigh is how Hafiz spends his time during the weekends whenever his wife suggests watching cartoons (yeah, yeah, anime, same thing).