SINGAPORE (Apr 18): Businesses in Singapore have much to catch up on in terms of workplace diversity, according a new report by Workday, a provider of enterprise cloud applications for finance and human resources (HR).

Based on the findings of the Diversity & Inclusion study, which surveyed more than 100 HR leaders for large companies and small-medium enterprises (SMEs) in Singapore, more than half (53%) of local companies have less than 20% of women in leadership goals, which Workday underscores as well below the Singapore government’s Diversity Action Committee Singapore (DAC) 2020 targets.

While the majority (80%) of men surveyed believed their companies to do enough to support women in the workplace, only 65% of the women agreed – revealing a significant gender perception gap.

In all, respondents felt that the lack of female role models (26.9%) and flexible working arrangements (37%) in their organisations were the two main factors stopping women from progressing in their careers, while two out of five (38.8%) of the HR leaders surveyed said they didn’t have enough socially diverse role models in general.

Gender and social inclusion, however, are not the only – or largest of – concerns among the survey’s respondents.

Based on the survey results, almost 60% felt their companies were not doing enough to support the disabled, whereas the top two areas which respondents felt Singapore companies could do better to support people with disabilities are namely in the areas of the facilities provided (36.1%) and inclusive hiring processes (26.9%).

The survey also suggests that ageism remains a prevalent issue among Singapore’s workplaces.

One in four respondents felt older workers faced discrimination in their workplace, while ageism comes in as the second-biggest issue faced by companies in Singapore at 28% after the inclusion of people with disabilities (38%).

Two of the most pressing issues with hiring and promoting older workers is outdated skill sets and lack of aptitude for new technology. Notably, HR professionals from large companies said age discrimination was more of an issue in their workplace than those in SMEs.

Only 16% of all companies surveyed had diversity and inclusion policies that covered people with disabilities, and only a third (35%) had policies that cover age discrimination.

“Studies show businesses see greater profitability and productivity when their workplaces are more diverse and inclusive,” says David Hope, President APAC, Workday.

“With one quarter of Singapore’s residents being ethnic minorities, an ageing workforce, and 3.4% of the population identifying as disabled, diversity and inclusion is a critical issue for local businesses,” he adds.