Singapore is second-worst globally for inclusion and diversity; Singapore workplaces rife with bullied and battered employees

SINGAPORE is the second-worst performing country in terms of workplace diversity and inclusion (D&I) practices,as revealed in the latest survey by data insights and consulting firm Kantar.

Singaporean employees report one of the highest levels of bullying in comparison to other countries surveyed, according to Kantar’s Inclusion Index, which benchmarks employee experiences across the world based on a number of criteria such as gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity and age. Almost a quarter (24%) of Singapore workers said they have been "bullied, undermined or harassed" in the workplace in the past year.

The republic also topped the list of countries where people are most likely to be made to ‘feel uncomfortable’ (32%) by their employers, higher than the overall sectors' average of 25%.

The importance of the workplace offering an environment based on equal opportunity is not only for employees but can also translate to overall business success.
— Kantar

The results of the study showed that many Singaporeans are struggling to deal with pressure, with 44% reporting that they are affected by ‘stress and anxiety’ at work, higher than the global average of 39%. Almost half (49%) of the working population feel that their company should support them more when they are dealing with the health concerns, said Kantar.

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The Index surveyed 18,000 people in 14 countries and working in 24 different industries to produce a new global standard in marking progress towards achieving equality and inclusive ways of working. The Inclusion Index creates a benchmark to help companies move the ‘inclusion and diversity’ conversation from ‘counting heads’ to ‘making each head count’.

Geographically, Canada tops the Inclusion Index. The North American country boasted good gender representation at senior levels (over 40% female), and 65% of Canadians surveyed believe that their companies are actively trying to be more inclusive and diverse and supporting all employees regardless of who they are.

USA followed with its strong equal representation in terms of gender at senior leadership, and 30% representation at senior leadership in terms of ethnicity. 63% of Americans believe that their companies are actively trying to be more inclusive and diverse and 67% stated that their companies support all employees regardless of who they are. In both countries bullying was also prevalent, with about 20% of Canadians and 17% of Americans experiencing bullying in the past year.

Other key findings from the index include:

  • 80% of employees around the world have observed or experienced discrimination – but only 1 in 3 feel empowered to escalate the matter to their HR department.

  • Almost half of employees (46%) believe ‘who you know’ rather than ‘what you know’ drives career progression.

Bullying and harassment:

  • Almost 1 in 5 (19%) people say they have been bullied, undermined or harassed in the workplace in the past year, rising to 23% for people of an ethnic minority background and 24% for gender-non-binary identifying individuals.

  • Brazil, Mexico and Singapore are the countries identified with the highest level of workplace bullying. Italy, Netherlands and Spain are identified as the countries with lowest level of bullying.

Gender dynamics:

  • More than a quarter (27%) of women say they have been made to feel they don’t belong in their workplace.

  • One in five (20%) women believe they are paid less than peers at a similar level.

  • LGBTQ+ identifying individuals represent only 2% of board director roles (but make up an estimated 9% of the global workforce).

  • One quarter (24%) of the LGBTQ+ population have been bullied at work in the past year.

  • More than one third of the LGBTQ+ workforce (36%) believe they have faced obstacles in career progression due to sexual orientation.

  • More than half of LGBTQ+ people suffer from consistent, high stress and anxiety and mental health problems at work.

Kaylene Tang