Jan 30, 2008

Suddenly, The Singapore Media Discovers That Gays Are Human Beings After All

A vaguely amusing article from Today:
Banks and the pool of pink talent
Wednesday • January 30, 2008
By Neo Chai Chin

AMERICAN investment bank Lehman Brothers is planning an unusual initiative in Singapore, Financial Times reported recently. It is specifically targeting gay and lesbians who aspire to be bankers. This follows the success of a presentation and buffet dinner for 50 gay students in Hong Kong.

Today has learnt that the banking giant is not alone. Global banks around Asia are breaking new ground to attract and retain the best and brightest. Increasingly, their hiring and diversity policies are taking into account the homosexual community, which makes up as a significant part of the talent pool.

At UBS Singapore, for example, benefits including health insurance are extended to a staff's "significant other", defined as "a person who has cohabited with an employee for a continuous period of 12 months". The couple does not need to be married, and sexual orientation is not an issue.

Money is a factor in the competition for talent, but keeping up with social changes is also important.

"This is why our benefits policy is designed to be as flexible and inclusive as possible," said Ms Leona Tan, UBS Singapore's diversity advisor.

Merrill Lynch, on its part, has four professional networks in the Asia-Pacific region for its staff, one of which is the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender network, set up last April. The other networks are for women, young professionals and parents. The firm even has an annual diversity week, when it hosts speakers, events and conferences for the various networks.

"Our efforts in the area of diversity are about how we can create the most effective and inclusive environment, one in which we value diversity rather than simply tolerate it," said Mr Roman Matla, spokesperson for the bank's diversity and inclusion team.
I suppose this article is useful for public education purposes in Singapore. On the other hand, I could not help finding it somewhat funny.

The article suggests that by taking gay people into account in their HR policies, foreign banks are doing something really unusual and innovative – “breaking new ground”.

Actually, this is nothing new at all. Practically all US and European banks have global HR policies recognizing the rights of their gay employees worldwide. Such policies would have been in existence for many years.

For example, my current employer has a HR policy which promotes fair and equal treatment of all employees. Among other things, the policy says that no employee is to be discriminated against on the basis of his race, nationality, age, religion, gender, marital status, disability or sexual orientation.

As a matter of fact, this isn’t even unique to banks. You see it across different industries, among a wide range of global MNCs. Here are a few examples, from the world’s best-known corporate names:
Microsoft: “It is our policy to recruit and hire applicants for employment opportunities based solely on the qualifications. We do not unlawfully discriminate on the basis of race, color, sex, sexual orientation, religion, national origin, marital status, age, or disability in any of our recruitment, hiring, training or promotion practices.”

British Airways: “British Airways offers an inclusive environment to all of our employees, whether gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. British Airways has for many years included sexual orientation in its the diversity policy.”

Deutsche Bank AG: “We think of Diversity in its broadest sense, embracing all of those differences that make up the exciting, challenging world in which we live. These include age, culture, ethnicity, gender, nationality, personality type, physical ability, religion, sexual orientation, and work style."

General Electric: “GE's commitment to the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender communities is supported by the GLBT Forum, as well as our offering of benefits for domestic partners.”

BP: “Our code of conduct, distributed to all BP employees, states that the company will not discriminate against anyone on the basis of race, gender, age, disability, sexual orientation and identity.”

Nike: “Nike works closely with Stonewall, Britain’s leading gay equality organization, and other members of the program, to improve the working environment for our lesbian, gay and bisexual employees.”

Nokia: “Among those rights that Nokia views as fundamental and universal are: freedom from any discrimination based on race, creed, color, nationality, ethnic origin, age, religion, gender, gender reassignment, sexual orientation ....”
If the above surprises you, it’s only because you live in Singapore. “Gasp!” you say. “How could all these respectable companies openly employ criminals?!”

Well, yes, the Dark Ages still prevail in Singapore. However, most other developed countries moved on long ago. They already discovered that gays are human beings too, you see.


Alan Wong said...

Mr. Wang

You are indeed funny but I totally agree with you, that is : One of our NMP is still living in the Dark Ages.

Highflyer said...

Oh, you forget SIA....most of the male cabin crews are gays

David said...

Mr Wang, you might like to add the following to complete your example too.

Singapore Inc: "The Home Affairs Ministry said last year that it would retain the ban on acts of "gross indecency" between men. The penalty is a maximum of two years in jail, but the law is rarely enforced."

Also LKY, father of Singapore Inc: "So you have to take a practical, pragmatic approach to what I see is an inevitable force of time and circumstance, Let's not go around like this moral police, ... barging into people's rooms," Lee said. "That's not our business."

The above quote taken from Aug 23 2007 http://biggaynews.com/?p=410

So the question still remain as what is really their business in first place ? Isn't their job is to state their business policy clearly ?

Look like the famous tacit NS army rules applied: "You can do anything as long as you don't get caught"

So it seems nothing will happen to gay who perform 'indecent act' if he doesn't get caught, otherwise, the whole shit befall him.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this, I didn't know that so many banks were gay-friendly.

I guess we have been so conditioned by the Singapore government's indoctrination about the "decadent gay lifestyle" that we fail to realise that other countries see this issue so differently (and sensibly).

Anonymous said...

Mr Wang,

Do you think that this article is part of a 'campaign' to herald the acceptance of an alternative lifestyle?

Surely, TODAY will not publish this report unless it was sanctioned by the higher ups.


Anonymous said...

Interesting how Microsoft does not "unlawfully discriminate". Does it mean that they will practise discrimination if it is lawful?

For example during the Apartheid era in South Africa, would Microsoft discriminate against blacks?

Anonymous said...

If Gay lifestyle is decadant, then what do you call the mentality that "marrying a white man is upgrading" common among many, who refuses to admit or blatantly telling you that their beliefs are superior to yours without factual verification.

Like my "majority" does need your auditing.

Lobo said...

It's not really the govt that is against gay lifestyle. In fact they are subtly in support of it. (they support anything business friendly)

The 'against' gay group is primarily made up of Christians. I participate in the Discussion Boards of ST Forum, and you will find those 'Christians' there. They basically adopt an attitude that if you are not against Gayism, you are Gay.

Anonymous said...

...UBS has a Diversity Director...must be an interesting job !
...now thats cutting edge man..

Anonymous said...

Btw Mr Wang are you still keeping your job? I know of at least 5 junior to mid-level investment bankers in the structured credit space here who have been let go.

Mr Wang Says So said...

Oh, I'm still keeping my job. We're actually hoping to exploit the subprime crisis to capture some market share in the structured credit space from our worst-hit competitors.

onlooker said...

But but what about the "Conservative minority"? That our present prime minister mentioned before.
I don't Think the local Media is that guilty(because they employ gays).
Hmmm let me guess: Well They have to act surprise because most of Our representatives belong to that elite faithful organization.
For instance,You will not see often peeps go to kuan yin temple or the Hindu temple next door.
Like a certain NMP....
But that aside Do we really need another X_ain rep?
But, but what about GRC?
Well that is a joke everyone know :)

Solo Bear said...

I see this gay issue from a different perspective.

Anonymous said...

Discrimination continue to exist in our World Class city.

Anonymous said...

The identification of the gay community as a creative force & talent was given impetus by Richard Florida's ground breaking book, "The Rise of The Creative Class" in 2002. It was no coincidence in 2003 when GCT, then Spore's PM remarked that he welcomed gays into the civil service. MM LKY also made positive statements on gay issues. It was during this time when the foreign talent debate was at its peak. The Esplanade [Durian], bar-table dancing, R(A) movies were govt concessions to encourage a more vibrant society to encourage creative foreign talents to come to Spore.
After 5 years (2008), virtually the progress (if any) on the gay issues were rolled back. Apparently GCT & LKY had not expected strong Fundamental Christian opposition within the cabinet. The non-repeal of S377A was the icing on the cake. As MNCs recognized gays as part of their HR policies, it is a sign of liberal progression and social tolerance of sexual orientation. As for Spore, it confirms that the govt is still intolerant & a social engineering control freak. The "Stop at 2" birth policy had already impacted on the country's demography and fertility. Education is another area where there is a tremendous waste of talent due to streaming, bilingualism, narrow academic focus, etc. Censorship is also a waste of time given the internet has made distribution of pornography easier via online streaming & VOD. As the gay issue shows, the world have moved on but Spore is still stuck in a 1960/70s time warp.
Despite the PR spin on being a world class govt, the fact is that Spore's govt is a micro-management govt & not a macro-manager. ERP, COE, transport policy, education, cost of living & healthcare - all points to the govt's ability to extract maximum revenue from the population or an inability to solve problems such as overcrowding in public transportation or escalating cost of living ("let them eat unbranded cake" uncalled for remarks). Even in the area of environmental conservation, Spore is just paying lip service with no real intention. Spore wastes an incredible amount of energy in maintaining shopping malls, office buildings & hotels - lighting, a/c. If the oil price does not drop, Spore will find it increasingly difficult to maintain its high cost economy. Already foreign students are finding it hard to survive in Spore without a part-time job.
The world is moving along but Spore is still in the hands of micro-managers - something that worries me about Spore's future.