Creating Inclusive Workplaces and Harmonious Workforce Forum

In case you missed it, here are some key learning points from TAFEP’s Creating Inclusive Workplaces & Harmonious Workforce Forum.

15 Nov 2019 Articles Best practices


An inclusive work environment is important as a foundation for organisations to achieve their desired business outcomes, and where employees are able to come together, leverage their diverse experiences and knowledge to co-create solutions, and innovate to achieve business excellence. At the 'Creating Inclusive Workplaces and Harmonious Workforce' forum organised by TAFEP, industry experts and HR practitioners shared their experiences and best practices to cultivate inclusive workplaces. 

These are some key highlights from the presentations:

Making a Business Case for Inclusion and Diversity
Ms Vidhya Ganesan, Partner, McKinsey & Company

During her keynote speech, Vidhya shared four key imperatives from McKinsey's best practice research that organisation must address to foster inclusive workplaces and capture the benefits of inclusion and diversity:

Articulate and cascade CEO commitment to galvanise your organisation. CEOs and leaders must articulate a compelling vision, embedded with real accountability for delivery, and cascade down through middle management.

Define Inclusion & Diversity (I&D) priorities based on what drives your business growth strategy. The I&D priorities must be explicitly defined based on what will drive the business growth strategy. Leading companies do this in a data-driven way. 

Craft a targeted portfolio of I&D initiatives to transform your organisation. Initiatives in pursuit of the I&D goals should be targeted based on growth policies, and investments made to both hard- and soft-wire the programmes and culture of inclusion required to capture the intended benefits. 

Tailor the I&D strategy to maximise local impact. I&D initiatives should be tailored to the relevant business area or geographic region context to maximise local buy-in and impact.

McKinsey's research also observed a statistically significant relationship between greater levels of diversity in the leadership of a large corporate organisation and financial performance. What this means is that organisations could potentially examine the case for I&D and how it is directly relevant to their business and use this as an enabler of business impact. 

Fostering Inclusive and Harmonious Workplaces
Ms Tracey Ho, Member, National Integration Council 

Tracey shared four challenges and some corresponding best practices to foster inclusive and harmonious workplaces: 

Distrust due to the lack of understanding of diverse cultures, leading to a breakdown of teams. Organise initiatives and / or programmes aimed at increasing understanding of different cultures and promoting inclusion, such as training and events.

Formation of cliques and opportunities for development remaining within the clique. The need for transparency in HR practices to facilitate diverse teams, such as objective and merit-based systems for performance evaluation and career development, and important for employees to be pro-active about their own self-development plans.

'Group-think' within cliques and thus the lack of diversity of thought and innovation within the organisation. Establish practices to drive an innovative culture in the organisation, such as 'innovative awards', and making Cultural Intelligence a career development criterion.

Difficulty in attracting and retaining talent. Have a consistent inclusion and collaboration focus in all key leadership messages throughout the employment cycle, and in branding for programmes in the organisation as appropriate. 

Employers can also use the Starter-Kit to help employees from different backgrounds work and interact well in the workplace. 

Strengthening Racial, Religious and Local-Foreigner Relations at Work 
Dr Mathew Mathews, Head of IPS Social Lab, Institute of Policy Studies. 

Dr Mathew shared findings on racial and religious harmony relations in Singapore and three steps that employers could take to strengthen racial, religious and local-foreigner harmony at the workplaces:

Embrace a pro-diversity mindset through cultural appreciation. Move beyond tolerance to increased appreciation and working with one another in a multicultural environment.

Encourage intercultural encounters. Encourage inter-racial/cultural friendships at the workplace through cross-cultural interactions and give added attention to helping minorities integrate into workplace friendships. 

Dismantle glass ceilings (or its perceptions). Ensure that HR practices focus on equity and fairness, such as removing practices that suggest that there are structural impediments to top positions, educating supervisors on subconscious bias and increasing diversity in interview panels.

Many insights and best practices were shared at the forum and participants left the event with new perspectives and ideas on how to foster inclusive workplaces and a harmonious workforce.