In today’s corporate landscape, the focus on creating LGBTQ+-friendly work environment and fostering workplace diversity and inclusiveness is high on the agenda for many employers. But what do these buzzwords truly mean for companies and is building a fair and equal work environment actually helpful?
Employers in Singapore have become more receptive to hiring lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) individuals, driven by education and awareness over the years. However, the reality is that LGBTQ+discrimination in Singapore workplaces still exists, ranging from subtle uncertainties about working with LGBTQ+ colleagues, to asking inappropriate personal questions about someone’s relationship history during job interviews.
Having a workplace that prioritises diversity and mandates equality is crucial for organisations to attract fresh talent. By eliminating hiring biases such as gender or sexual orientation, employers can create a true sense of workplace belonging and foster an inclusive environment. Research has further shown that LGBTQ+ individuals who are open about their sexual orientation at work experience greater joy and career satisfaction at work.
Efforts to strengthen LGBTQ acceptance in Singapore companies are ongoing, with employers aiming to create inclusive and welcoming workplaces for all employees. Many companies in Singapore have been actively promoting LGBTQ+-friendly working environments where individuals feel empowered to bring their best selves to work and achieve their full potential. In this article, we will explore what makes a workplace LGBTQ+-friendly and highlight the top five companies in Singapore that are leading the charge.
how do you create a LGBTQ+-friendly workplace?
A LGBTQ+-friendly workplace is characterised by its recognitions and support of LGBTQ+ employees allowing them to be their authentic selves at work. This includes creating a safe and welcoming environment where LGBTQ+ employees have equal opportunities at work, and where discrimination against sexual orientation or gender identity is actively addressed and not tolerated.
From an organisational standpoint, safeguarding LGBTQ+ employees from discrimination and harassment at the workplace is just the start of their inclusion journey. Companies need to assess every touch point they have with their employees and job seekers to ensure that LGBTQ+ individuals always feel welcomed.
When businesses foster a community that is self-aware and open to differences, they demonstrate a much-needed sense of empathy. This not only helps retain existing talent but welcomes new faces into the workplace.
1. inclusive company policies and recruitment approaches
It’s important for companies to implement anti-discriminatory policies and outline clear guidelines and procedures to prevent harassment and bias in recruitment, hiring, promotion, compensation and training.
Anti-discriminatory policies can include enforcing strict dress codes that separate employees by gender and allowing employees to mock or discriminate against their LGBTQ+ colleagues without any consequences of their behaviour. Without such a policy in place, biased employers can potentially deny employment or promotion, as well as fire someone solely because of their sexual orientation.
Organisations can also take steps to improve their recruitment processes to avoid hiring bias and nip the issue in the bud.
As a start, employers can indicate in their job advertisements that they are a LGBTQ+-friendly company, by highlighting relevant workplace equality policies. Companies can also use their careers website page to emphasise their dedication to workplace diversity and inclusion by sharing testimonials from their existing LGBTQ+ talent.
2. supportive culture at work
A popular way for companies to show their support for their employees and build an inclusive culture is through celebrating key events like Pride Month or similar awareness days. However, it’s important to note that such gestures can seem performative if inclusion is not woven directly into the fabric of a company’s culture, especially if they are hosted as one-off events.
To truly promote an inclusive culture, companies should go beyond organising internal employee events. Organisations need to consider a more holistic approach that encompasses corporate social responsibility and the removal of any barriers to success, so that every employee feels encouraged to participate in the workplace.
Promoting holistic support and inclusion can be achieved through LGBTQ+ workplace initiatives such as:
mandatory diversity, equity & inclusion (DEI) training to educate employees
According to our 2023 Employer Brand Research, 57% of respondents in Singapore said that it’s important for them to work for a company that actively supports equity, diversity & inclusion. Yet, only 42% said that their employers support protection and inclusion of LGBTQIA+ employees.
For many of the LBGTQ+ applicants you may hire, knowing that an organisation is dedicated to DEI initiatives and inclusion training is a key factor in their decision to work for you.
employee networks or business resource groups
These support groups provide LGBTQ+ employees and allies the opportunities to come together to brainstorm LGBTQ+ events and initiatives or simply bond over their shared experiences. By assisting in the eradication of harassment or discrimination at work through education, mentorship programmes, and information exchange, staff networks or support groups are essential to maintaining effective equality and a culture of inclusion inside the workplace.
identify internal ambassadors
Invite employees to share their own experiences and recommend ideas on how to improve inclusive practices in the workplace. Celebrating allies, who are people that actively support and welcome their LGBTQ+ coworkers, shows an employer's dedication to inclusiveness.
3. LGBTQ+ support from leaders
Any successful leader knows that no employee, no matter how self-motivated or intelligent they are, feels empowered to do their best work in an environment where they don’t feel supported or safe to be themselves.
When leaders in a company publicly support LGBTQ+ rights and inclusion, it sends a powerful message to all their employees that they have support not simply from their peers, but at every level of the organisation.
In recent years, numerous large businesses have received criticism from consumers and advocacy groups for their lack of inclusivity at a management level.
It is not enough for a business to simply align its brand with strong values. Leaders should prioritise inclusion and diversity in the workplace and apply it whenever they make a strategic business decision - be it for employee engagement or for the customers they service. These decisions drive a strong message across the workforce that everyone should keep an open mind and embrace each other’s differences.
Rather than cherry-picking employees and job seekers based on arbitrary factors, you’re giving each person a powerful chance to prove their worth as a human being.
the importance of LGBTQ+ inclusivity in the workplace
With inclusive company policies in place, companies can be more successful when it comes to attracting and retaining diverse and top talent.
When employees feel supported and included, they feel happier and more satisfied with their jobs, and they’re much less likely to leave the company. When there is an innate empathy and mutual respect between co-workers regardless of orientation and personal beliefs, there will be increased productivity, better teamwork and higher employee satisfaction.
5 best LGBTQ+-friendly companies to work in singapore
Though Singapore is a plural society, where discussing LGBTQ+ equality remains taboo, it can be challenging to find LGBTQ+-friendly companies. However, there are businesses that actively champion diversity and inclusivity in the workplace, creating safe spaces for the LGBTQ+ community.
Here are five LGBTQ+-friendly businesses and the significant strides they have made towards promoting a more inclusive work environment.
1. j.p. morgan
J.P. Morgan has been a long supporter of equality, including for the LGBTQ+ community. They have an official LGBTQ+ PRIDE Business Resource Group, established in 1996, that offers a safe space for personal development opportunities for LGBTQ+ employees and their allies to connect and share experiences.
The company has a strong commitment to promoting inclusivity at work from their Office of LGBTQ+ Affairs, which has a full-time dedicated team to promote intersectionality and deliver equity and inclusion for their LGBTQ+ employees, clients and partners worldwide.
2. arup singapore
Arup Singapore has employee resource groups called Connect Networks for their employees. Connect Networks started in 2013 as part of the company’s effort to express their support for the LGBTQ+ staff members and allies. It is also one of the first networks of its kind in their industry.
The company also has a diversity, equality and inclusion (DEI) policy to ensure equal opportunities for everyone so that the LGBTQ+ community is taken care of.
This includes ensuring that employees are given equitable pay based on roles, responsibilities and performance, working with clients and partners who align with their DEI goals, and recruiting talent from a diverse range of backgrounds with different characteristics.
The Oracle Pride Employee Network unites and empowers their LGBTQ+ communities globally. They work together to increase the visibility for LGBTQ+ communities and form partnerships that improve their lives at work. For example, the company makes it a point to educate their employees on the importance of having a diverse team to align everyone on the same agenda.
Oracle’s employee benefits, like same-sex partner medical coverage offered in some countries, are also designed to enhance employees’ personal lives.
4. standard chartered bank
Standard Chartered is a financial institution that has been recognised for its commitment to diversity and inclusion.
The company has various global employee networks including the Global LGBT and Allies Network. The network connects and supports colleagues who are members or allies of the LGBTQ+ community, providing them with a safe space to connect with one another and share their experiences.
Standard Chartered Bank also has a non-discrimination policy that prevents their clients from being unfairly discriminated against on grounds including their sexual orientation and gender identity. If clients feel that they have been mistreated, they may raise the issue with the bank so that appropriate actions will be taken.
Energy company BP is known for its progressive action in facilitating cross-industry networks on LGBTQ+ issues. BP Pride is an employee-led community, with two core programmes named Safe Space and Allies.
These programmes aim to foster an inclusive workplace culture, create a safe and supportive space for everyone and also educate people on the challenges that LGBTQ+ employees may face at work through personal experiences.
Through collaborative efforts, allies and members of the LGBTQ+ community can work together to cultivate a harmonious and inclusive working environment founded on mutual respect and understanding. Being a supportive employer is about being able to show talent that you celebrate diversity, promote inclusivity at work, and have a workplace where every individual feels deeply valued and respected.
where can you find LGBTQ+ inclusive workplaces?
Looking for a job that aligns with your values as an LGBTQ+ jobseeker can be challenging, especially if protection and safety is your highest priority. However, with the help of a trusted recruiter from Randstad, you can easily find companies that embrace and share the same beliefs as you.
Randstad supports workplace diversity, equality, and inclusion. We are committed to creating a fully inclusive workplace environment where LGBTQI+ employees feel valued, appreciated and welcomed. We strive to celebrate diversity and empower individuals to thrive through encouragement, respect and meaningful connections.
At Randstad, we are committed to understanding your unique needs and preferences, and we will match you with a company that not only values diversity and inclusion but also offers an exciting career path. If you’re looking for a safe space to work at, our consultants are ready to help you find your dream job with a company that values you for who you are.
Note: This article was updated to reflect the publicly available information in June 2023.