Getting started in D & I

Where do you start in your D&I journey? This publication addresses the key areas of substance with proven policies for success, and quotes from member companies of the British Chamber’s Diversity Business Group, provided from their own D&I statements for your benefit.

Published 17th March 2017


Introduction from Stephen Trevis, Chairperson, Diversity Business Group, British Chamber of Commerce, Singapore


"Recruiting, developing and retaining talent in any business presents challenges and opportunities in equal measure. Increasing female participation in employment; generational turnover; cultural change; increasing levels of immigration; and advancing technology are just some of the factors at play in our ever-evolving workplace.


As a result, embracing diversity and inclusion has become a priority for businesses from large MNCs to start ups. Companies that have developed robust Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) strategies have consistently seen the benefits to their bottom line. The United Nations estimates the economic impact of failure to retain female employees in the APAC region at $89 billion annually, including the cost of new recruitment and training and loss of specialized knowledge and skills . McKinsey estimates that companies with an ethnic diversity have a staggering 35% higher chance of outperforming the market .


The Diversity Business Group at the British Chamber of Commerce aims to address best practice, share insights and foster cross sector exchange. Barclays has been a leading proponent of the power of a diverse and inclusive workplace, and this is exemplified by the bank’s establishment and leadership of the Diversity Business Group and position as Diversity Sponsor for the British Chamber.


Through this publication the Diversity Business Group provides examples of D&I guidelines and value statements. We hope you will find these examples interesting and informative, and that you find inspiration and practical help in how to develop a D&I strategy and champion D&I within your organisation."



Why Diversity & Inclusion?


In today’s modern, multi-cultural and multi-generational society, an organisation’s workforce is their greatest asset. Encouraging the right talent to apply for new positions, retaining and supporting existing employees and handling sensitive areas of employee welfare are all required skills of senior management.


Beyond the traditional human resources function, many multi-national companies now employ a Head of Diversity (or similar title), placing D&I firmly at the top of the senior agenda. What can you learn from these diversity champions and how can you implement a similar set of values in your own organisation?


Ensuring your organisation maintains an equality of opportunities across recruitment, development, training and career progression should be the ultimate goal for your approach to D&I, and when achieved will naturally result in an effective positive brand position.


This publication addresses the key areas of substance with proven policies for success, and statements from member companies of the British Chamber’s Diversity Business Group, provided from their own D&I statements for your benefit. All of the companies supporting the Chamber’s diversity agenda have comprehensive internal guidelines in place for discrimination, harassment and bullying with resulting disciplinary actions for non-compliance, thereby ensuring an appropriate working environment for all employees.


Throughout the publication, useful resources indicate where you may find further information on specific topics. For general support, the Ministry of Manpower provides their guidance at


The Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP) is the official body in Singapore for the promotion of fair, responsible and progressive employment practices among employers, employees and the general public. Among the resources available is an Employers Pledge of Fair Employment Practices ( which has been signed by more than 4,000 organisations in Singapore and generates a certificate for display. A self-assessment tool is also available for organisations to evaluate their current diversity position at


Barclays Bank Plc

We are committed to ensuring equal opportunity without discrimination or harassment on the basis of an including but not limited to age, disability, pregnancy/maternity, gender or gender identity, race, religion or belief or sexual orientation.”


Standard Chartered Bank

The Group is committed to providing equality of opportunity and fair treatment in employment, and it does not unlawfully discriminate in its recruitment and employment policies, terms, procedures, processes and decisions on the grounds of race; colour; nationality; national or ethnic origins; gender; parental status; marital or civil partner status; sexual orientation; gender identity, expression or reassignment; HIV or AIDS status; employment status; flexibility of working arrangements; disability; age; religion; or belief. The Group appoints, trains, develops, rewards and promotes employees on the basis or their merit and ability. Action may be taken to address disadvantage or under-representation among specific groups, with the aim of ensuring that employment decisions are free from bias.”


British Council

Our Equality Policy commits us to ensuring that there is no unjustified discrimination in the recruitment, retention, training and development of staff on the basis of age, disability, gender including transgender, HIV/AIDS status, marital status including civil partnerships, pregnancy and maternity, political opinion, race/ethnicity, religion and belief, sexual orientation, socio-economic background, spent convictions, trade union activity or membership, work pattern, on the basis of having or not having dependants or on any other grounds which are relevant to decision-making.”


Swire Pacific Offshore

Workplace diversity and inclusion (generally referred to as “D&I”) involves the company and all of its employees recognising the inherent value of individual differences and then managing them to produce a welcoming and profitable workplace."





The value of including women in the workplace has been a senior management agenda item in multi-national companies for several years, reflected in a recent PwC study which indicates 78% of organisations with more than 10,000 employees are actively trying to recruit more women1. The study suggests that employers see the largest barrier to increasing the number of women recruited to senior level positions as a lack of sufficient candidates, indicating that more importance should be placed on the language and marketing of job advertisements and the inclusivity of the company brand.


Be mindful that potential employees may judge your organisation on how inclusive you are perceived to be. PwC’s study states that when considering a future employer, 61% of women look at the diversity of the leadership team and 67% of women look at whether the organisation has positive role models similar to them. Leading by example is crucial to achieving your gender diversity targets. Singapore’s Diversity Action Committee reports that just 9.7% of all SGX-listed companies had elected women to their board2. This statistic has improved over the last few years but progression is slow compared to other countries. In the United Kingdom women represent 21.9% of board positions; in United States the statistic is 16%.


According to research from the World Economic Forum3, Singapore currently ranks 55th of 144 countries in terms of gender pay parity. This is an improvement of 10 positions over the course of the decade prior, but clearly there is significant room for improvement in ensuring a fair playing field for men and women alike in our local marketplace.


Examples of inclusive practices include:


  • Diversity within the interview panel during recruitment
  • Inclusive language in recruitment role descriptions
  • Unconscious bias training for existing employees, including senior management
  • Proactive brand awareness positioning in this area
  • Monitoring the diversity of your recruitment and existing workforce, ensuring the focus remains on quality and equal opportunities
  • Partnering with schools and universities to build a pipeline of future talent and encourage young women to progress in their chosen careers
  • Partnering with relevant associations to establish your brand identity in relation to gender inclusion
  • Introduce mentoring within your organisation
  • Consider that gender inclusion is not as simple as only men and women. The modern workforce includes various gender identities which all deserve equal opportunities and for their rights to be protected


Barclays Bank Plc

Barclays recognises that utilising the talents of women not only helps enrich our perspectives, but helps embed the culture we are building within the organisation.”


British Council

Consistent with the respect we have for everyone’s right in their preferred gender identity, we make relevant guidance available to attune people to the challenges faced by transgender and intersex people.”


Swire Pacific Offshore

We are committed to a remuneration system that is transparent and based on objective criteria… We will always provide equal pay, free from unlawful gender or other unlawful aspect bias, for the same or broadly similar work in respect of the location where employees signed their contract of employment.”


Useful Links





The Singapore Government places importance on developing a more caring and inclusive society in relation to all forms of disability, operating a 5 year roadmap entitled the “Enabling Masterplan”, currently in its 3rd iteration4. According to research carried out by the National Council of Social Service (NCSS) in 2015, in the age group of 18-49 years 3.4% of the resident population (Singaporean citizens and Permanent Residents) has some form of disability5. As a result, various grants and support are available for employers to hire, train and integrate persons with disabilities.


There are different forms and levels of disability to be considered in your D&I planning from the physical to sensory, intellectual and developmental. Examples of inclusive practices include:


  • Adapting the physical workplace and equipment for the needs of disabled employees
  • Working with partners to evaluate your working environment and systems
  • Reviewing recruitment processes and language to ensure opportunities are inclusive
  • Publicising your inclusivity and success stories internally as well as externally
  • Making changes to a disabled person’s working pattern
  • Ensuring that information is provided in accessible formats
  • Allowing extra time during selection tests


Encouraging applications from disabled people is good for business. It can help you to:


  • Increase the number of high quality applicants available
  • Create a workforce that reflects the diverse range of customers it serves and the community in which it is based
  • Bring additional skills to the business, such as the ability to use sign language


The costs of making reasonable adjustments to accommodate disabled employees are often lower than organisations may expect. The benefits of retaining an experienced, skilled employee who has acquired an impairment are usually greater than recruiting and training new staff.


Barclays Bank Plc

Disability Listening Groups, hosted by senior executives across the business… provide colleagues with disabilities the opportunity to meet with senior leaders and provide input into tactical changes to improve the working environment.”


British Council

We recognise that disabled people, including those with specific learning differences and mental health issues, are disabled not necessarily through their own individual impairments or relative ability, but through common social attitudes and physical and attitudinal barriers which result in marginalisation and lack of access to full human rights.”


Useful Links




Establishing guidelines to avoid discrimination against potential or existing employees due to age is a recognised element of inclusive D&I policies in most industrialised countries, with examples of poor (in some countries illegal) practice including:


  • Specifying age preferences within a job advertisement
  • Differentiating job benefits by age
  • Lack of consideration for promotion or lateral role changes due to age


In Singapore it is unlawful for employers to dismiss employees below 62 years on the grounds of their age. With an aging local workforce, the Government has placed great emphasis in policies and media coverage encouraging employers to be mindful of today’s multi-generational workforce needs, through the work of TAFEP.


Examples of good practice include:


  • Researching Government grants and support to create better roles for mature employees
  • Introducing flexible working arrangements
  • Introducing or improving well-being programmes for employees
  • Revising training opportunities for mature employees
  • Use age-neutral language in job postings
  • Consider a phased retirement policy


Barclays Bank Plc

We have a long history of supporting the recruitment and retention of an age-diverse workforce and we want to receive job applications from people of all ages. There is no age limit on any career opportunity at Barclays. Promotion is based on merit, assessed through an annual performance and development review process, and training is open to all colleagues.”


British Council

We believe it is possible to have a workforce of employees of different generations and ages and to encourage the contributions of children, young people and adults of different ages, across the range of our work.”


Useful Links



Sexual Orientation


In Singapore, reference is not specifically made in employment law to set out fair practices in this area. However for modern employers, particularly those operating across multiple countries, it is recommended that consideration is made to similarly protect employees.


By having an open and transparent statement around sexual orientation choices, organisations can display their willingness to be inclusive and accepting of modern society, without employees feeling marginalised or under pressure to hide their personal lives from colleagues.


Our diversity sponsor Barclays has a particularly strong focus in supporting LGBT employees, recognised by leading advocacy groups as a good example of inclusivity.


Examples of inclusive practices include:


  • Ensuring same-sex partners are afforded with the same company benefits as opposite-sex partners
  • Establishing support networks, particularly for multi-national organisations
  • Working with partners to increase awareness of relevant issues and promoting the organisational position


Barclays Bank Plc

At Barclays, our strong track record in supporting our LGBT colleagues and customers has been recognised globally by various external organisations. In recognition of the work we do to ensure our workplace, products and services, are inclusive, Barclays was ranked in the top 10 of Stonewall’s Top 100 Employers. Stonewall is the UK’s leading advocacy organisation for the LGBT community. In the US, we achieved a score of 100% in the 2015 Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equity Index for the 5th consecutive year. Our Spectrum Employee Networks partner with the business to generate ideas for continual improvement, as we all facilitating the connection, networking and development of LGBT employees and other colleagues. In 2014, the Spectrum employee network launched the “Proud to be an Ally” campaign in the UK to raise awareness of Spectrum’s Global Ally Program which aims to provide guidance to colleagues as to what an ally is along with clear achievable ways in which employees could get involved.”


British Council

All colleagues have the right to be themselves at work without having to be fearful about sharing aspects of who they are… everyone working with or for the British Council should feel confident that negative messages or stereotypes on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation will not be tolerated.”


Useful Links


Race & Culture


Singapore is a multi-cultural country with all races and nationalities represented within the small island. As such it is important to encourage a tolerant, understanding and inclusive workplace to meet the needs of your employees and the wider community.


The Ministry of Manpower, in collaboration with TAFEP, claim that from 2011-15 the average number of reported workplace discrimination complaints was 400 per year, with less than 8% related to race or religion6. However race discrimination is a reality, illustrated by a 2016 survey of Singaporeans undertaken by Channel News Asia and the Institute of Policy Studies which reports that around 60% of respondents claimed to have heard a racist comment, with half of these noting that the comments were made by their workplace colleagues or friends7.


Examples of inclusive practices include:


  • Ensuring a wide variety of placements for job opportunity postings
  • Building zero tolerance guidelines into employee induction training
  • Discourage racial or culturally offensive humour or practical jokes. When in doubt, leave it outside the workplace
  • Establish a whistleblowing policy for employees to anonymously report incidents of discrimination


Barclays Bank Plc

In today’s global environment it is vital that organisations operate with greater cultural understanding. Our colleagues across our global footprint make up a rich kaleidoscope of nationalities, culture and heritage.”


British Council

Our work is enriched by the different ethnic/racial, cultural groups and travelling communities we engage with… we require all staff, partners and suppliers to ensure no justified discrimination on grounds of race/ethnicity occurs and to promote positive and equitable relations between different ethnic groups.”


Religious Beliefs


Discrimination against a person’s religious beliefs is a highly emotional and personal issue, which must be dealt with sensitively and with an awareness that management and by extension your brand can be open to criticism without guidance in place.


Many employers find that being sensitive to the religious needs of their employees makes good business sense, supporting employee retention rates, company culture and employee satisfaction.


Examples of good practice include:


  • Reviewing policies for employee religious observances requests
  • Providing prayer rooms, where possible, with appropriate hygiene facilities
  • Accommodating dietary restrictions
  • Careful consideration of an inclusive dress code
  • Supporting employees in instances of third party bias
  • Celebrating with and educating all employees on the various religious holidays


British Council

We value and respect the religions/beliefs and cultural diversity of staff working in the British Council and in the communities in which we operate, including those of no religion or belief. In many countries we provide dedicated prayer facilities and in some we make provision as required by using different rooms flexibly and take other actions. Where they are existing work requirements which may conflict with particular cultural and religious needs, we carefully consider whether it is reasonably practical to vary or adapt these to enable needs to be met.”


Useful Links



With thanks to our contributing member companies for their participation in this publication. Visit for more information on the events and work of the Chamber's Diversity business group.





1 PwC “Winning the fight for #FemaleTalent” report (2017)

2 Singapore’s Diversity Action Committee “Women on Boards” report (2016)

3 World Economic Forum “Global Gender Pay Gap Index” (2016)

4 “3rd Enabling Masterplan 2017-2021” (2016)

5 National Council of Social Service (2015), cited in “3rd Enabling Masterplan 2017-2021” (2016)

6 Straits Times (2016)

7 Channel News Asia article (2016)