1 in 2 experienced workplace discrimination against ‘race, age and gender’ in Singapore: survey

Singapore may be advanced in many different aspects but the statistics for workplace discrimination remain sobering. 

One in every two workers in Singapore have experienced workplace discrimination in the past five years, according to a survey by gender equality group AWARE.

The survey, conducted in partnership with consumer research company Milieu Insight, polled 1,000 respondents in August on their experiences with discrimination — whether directly or indirectly — and other discrimination-related harassment faced in the previous five years. 

“The findings highlight particular ‘pain points’ that deserve attention, such as indirect discrimination, which is frequently left out of conversations and policy decisions,” AWARE’s executive director Corinna Lim said in a news release.

Lim added that the survey was done to contribute to the drafting of the upcoming anti-discrimination legislation which Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced last year.

Findings stated that 55% of respondents had experienced at least one form of discrimination.

The top three grounds where respondents faced discrimination were race (41%), age (35%) and gender (23%). Others include family responsibilities (18%), religion (16%), marital status (11%) and medical conditions (7%).

Those more vulnerable to discrimination at work are persons with disabilities (78%) compared to those without (50%), LGBT persons (68%) compared to those who are not (56%), and those of minority race (89%) compared to those of majority race (44%). 

The three most common experiences of discrimination were felt in unfair company policies or practices like having inaccessible office spaces; job advertisements that specified preferences for non-job requirements; and discriminatory employment practices related to performance appraisal and promotion like receiving a bad appraisal after disclosing pregnancy.

But only 54% of the respondents who experienced workplace discrimination said they did not report it to the higher-ups as they either did not think it was “severe” enough (36%), did not trust the authorities (30%), or did not have enough evidence of discrimination (29%).

AWARE said its Workplace Harassment and Discrimination Advisory department have seen a continual rise in cases with 59 reported this year, up from 44 last year and 26 in 2020.

“The findings of this study highlight just how complex, and sometimes even invisible, issues of discrimination at the workplace can be. I hope managers and senior business leaders will take these results seriously and ensure they’re working to cultivate positive, open and equitable workplace environments.’’ Milieu Insight’s Chief Operating Officer Stephen Tracy said in a news release.

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