Business Standard

Increasing number of Malays, Indians feel discriminated at work in Singapore


Press Trust of India Singapore
A large number of Malays and Indians in Singapore feel discriminated while applying for jobs, according to a survey.
According to the survey by the Institute of Policy Studies and, a national body for inter-racial and inter-religious understanding in Singapore, the proportion of Malay and Indian respondents who felt discriminated against when applying for jobs has increased since 2013.
The findings of the paper titled Indicators of Racial Religious Harmony: Comparing Results from 2018 and 2013 were released on Tuesday, the Channel News Asia reported.
The paper found that a large proportion of minorities, 73 per cent of Malays, 68 per cent of Indians and about half of others, as they are defined in ethnicity and which includes Eurasians, felt that they had experienced discrimination when it came to applying for a job.
In contrast, 38 per cent of Chinese felt that way, according to the research findings.
This may partly be due to greater awareness of the presence of discriminatory behaviour in the workplace and how this might have affected some minorities, researchers Mathew Mathews, Leonard Lim and Shanthini Selvarajan said in the paper.
Zooming into how frequently they felt this way, the proportion who perceived such discriminatory behaviour often, very often or always when applying for a job was also higher in 2018 compared to 2013.
About a fifth of Malays (22.3 per cent) in 2018 felt discriminated against, often, very often or always, when applying for a job in the city state, an increase from the 19.4 per cent who felt similarly in 2013.
Among Indians, the proportion who felt this, increased by 2.6 percentage points to 20.8 per cent, while among Others, it dropped.
In total, 4,015 Singaporeans and permanent residents were polled on issues ranging from aspects of their racial and religious identity, to their experiences of living in a multi-racial society, and their attitudes towards social and political issues.
Minority races were over-sampled so that their responses could be better analysed, the researchers said.
There was universal consensus that ability, rather than factors such as race, was important in hiring decisions.
However, a substantial proportion of respondents perceived other attributes such as education, language and race of the job applicant as important.
More than four in 10 said language was either always important, or important most of the time.
According to the researchers, the findings signalled the need for more resources to be channelled into tackling workplace discrimination.
One said the study demonstrated gaps which need to be addressed, in response to more respondents from racial minority backgrounds perceiving discrimination at work, calling the figures "disconcerting".
It said that the work it does, together with community partners, affirms that there have been increased perceptions of workplace discrimination.
Singaporeans of minority ethnic backgrounds have made significant progress in education and have appropriately increased aspirations. They are increasingly competing for work across all industries and businesses, the Channel quoted One as saying.
The organisation called for "concerted efforts" to tackle the issue, to ensure harmonious social relations at the workplace. It said it will work to support greater education and engagement of both employers and employees to address key issues such as bias and stereotypes.
One said it will work with employers through the Singapore National Employers Federation, and the Tripartite Alliance For Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP) - to address racial discrimination at work.
We will continue to send the clear message to all in Singapore that all forms of racism and racial discrimination are not acceptable in our multi-racial and multi-religious society, it said.
TAFEP also noted that there is room for improvement.
It strongly urged all employers to abide by its guidelines and treat all employees fairly and with respect.
Employers should implement progressive human resource management systems and practices that allow workers to be assessed and developed based on their merits and contributions, a spokesperson said, adding that employers can contact TAFEP for advice and assistance to put in place such practices.
Overall, however, there has been significant improvement in inter-racial and religious relations in 2018, as compared to 2013, the researchers noted.
A set of 10 indicators such as the absence of minority discrimination in using public services; the presence of close inter-racial friendships, and levels of inter-racial and inter-religious social trust were used for the survey.

Disclaimer: No Business Standard Journalist was involved in creation of this content

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First Published: Jul 30 2019 | 8:21 PM IST

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