Beyond Inclusiveness and Diversity: Belonging – The Missing Piece of the Puzzle

Evelyn Kwek

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PAMELA SNG

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EVELYN KWEK AND PAMELA SNG

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Most organizations in Singapore are familiar with the concept of Diversity and Inclusion (D&I). They acknowledge the business benefits that a diverse workforce brings, are receptive to recruiting a diverse talent profile, and make efforts to create an inclusive work environment through policies and practices around fair employment. They may also organize activities to encourage different groups of employees across the organization to interact with one another.

This is even more pertinent in multi-racial, multi-cultural Singapore, as highlighted by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong during the National Day Rally 2021. He shared the Government’s plans to legislate TAFEP’s Tripartite Guidelines on Fair Employment Practices to deal with workplace discrimination and pass The Maintenance of Racial Harmony Act. He noted that “sometimes, it goes beyond racial and cultural preferences to become biases and prejudices. Then it is a problem.”

“The real solution to racism is to change social attitudes… This takes time and effort. Legislation can play a role. Laws may not by themselves make people get along with one another or like one another. But laws can signal what our society considers right or wrong, and nudge people over time to behave better.”

Organizations tend to mirror the larger society in which they operate—diversity is a natural state, while inclusiveness requires time and effort, and must be supported by policies and programs to communicate the organization’s stance on fairness and D&I.

However, while some of these efforts work, others do not seem to create the desired synergy and social capital between individuals that form the foundation of authentic care, collaboration and communication, and lets every individual thrive at work and enjoy the people they work with. But what is this elusive piece of the puzzle—the x-factor—that underpins the social fabric of organizations that display a high trust, strong team-based culture?

In recent years, leading organizations have come to recognize that D&I is a necessary but insufficient condition to create a culture of trust and a level of camaraderie among employees. One which allows them to bring their whole selves to work and enables them to maximize their full potential. Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging (DIB) is now the goal to strive for.

According to Josh Bersin, diversity is a strategy; inclusion is a goal; belonging is a feeling1. He says that at work, a sense of “not being included” can be deadly. When people feel left out of meetings, don’t have input on their work assignments, or sense that they have been excluded from decisions or opportunities, they feel stress, anger, mistrust, and anxiety.

In our research with the Singapore Management University to develop our Asia’s Best Workplaces™ 2019 Insights report, we found that psychological safety, inclusion and belonging result in strong teamwork, which in turn contributes to building high performing great workplaces that have a strong competitive edge over the others.

When we compared Singapore’s Best Workplaces™ 2020 with the rest, we found notable differences for each of these factors:

Fostering a sense of Belonging continues to be a focus for many of our Best Workplaces, and in 2020, employees who rated Belonging high were 50% more likely to also rate their employer as a great place to work.

Here are six ways to harness your organization’s diversity and cultivate Belonging at your workplace:

1. Address People Decisions
  • Employees’ common concerns tend to revolve around pay, promotions and recognition. Clear expectations and advancement criteria are necessary, along with a high degree of transparency. Hence, establishing clear guidelines for pay levels, promotion, recognition and even how we hire provides a starting point.
  • Many leading organizations also endeavor to provide additional levels of exposure for employees in other areas of the company. This gives managers, promotion committees and other stakeholders greater exposure to the organization’s diverse talent.
2. Make Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging a Management Priority
  • To help leaders at all levels embrace diversity and cultivate belonging, some organizations have mandated goals associated with building a more open and diverse workforce. This may involve analyzing additional metrics, as well as training managers to recognize decision-making biases in their people decisions.
  • Leading organizations also ask their managers to be aware of how opportunities are distributed within their teams.
3. Consider Information and Opportunity Flow
  • While formal communication may flow equally across most companies, informal networks often carry important context that may exclude some members of the workforce.
  • Leaders who make time to connect with those of diverse backgrounds and perspectives will have a better understanding of the dynamics within those groups. It also greatly enhances the perception of inclusiveness—being accessible is not about waiting for people to knock on your door, it is about proactively reaching out to learn what is working well and understand where there are gaps.
4. Make Personal Connections
  • To actively address inclusion and create a sense of belonging, managers can reach out to share experiences and interests with team members. Demonstrating curiosity about families, cultures, hobbies and interests in a work-appropriate way can help break down barriers and increase personal connections. Sharing stories about one’s life and work experiences can also be a powerful way to connect.
  • Everyone on your team has a different story to tell and it is important for team members to have opportunities to get to know one another’s stories.
5. Recognize and Reward Manager Behaviors
  • Changing organizational culture involves changing its individual members’ behaviors. It is often easy to start a diversity initiative, but much harder to maintain momentum. Rewarding managers who try new behaviors, undertake to create more inclusive teams and take steps towards a more open work environment reinforces those efforts.
6. Collect Data to Measure Efforts
  • By collecting quantitative and qualitative data on your diversity and inclusion initiatives, you can develop baseline measures to help track your progress over time. This can also offer a valuable perspective into your employees’ experiences and support your efforts to recognize team and organizational improvements, so you can celebrate successes along the way.

By going beyond D&I to engender a true sense of belonging for every individual, Best Workplaces are able to create a Great Place To Work For All®.

Take your first step by assessing your employees’ day-to-day workplace experiences.

1 Why Belonging Is Such A Big Issue In Business Today by Josh Bersin· Published August 31, 2020 and updated September 7, 2020. https://joshbersin.com/2020/08/why-belonging-is-a-big-issue-in-business-today/

Evelyn Kwek

Evelyn is the Managing Director for Great Place to Work®️ in ASEAN and ANZ. Heading the expansion of Great Place to Work®️ offices in ASEAN, Evelyn is convinced that just as the region is growing exponentially on the economic front, the work of building great workplaces For All™ must go in tandem with economic growth.

A proud mother of 3, Evelyn takes parenting very seriously – she is strict yet giving, result-focused yet generous. Together with husband Roland, they relish exploring new cultures and beautiful places of the world, usually on leisurely self-drive holidays, before the days of Covid.

PAMELA SNG

Pamela is our Senior Consultant and Research Lead for Great Place to Work® ASEAN and ANZ. She has over two decades of consulting and policy experience helping organizations in their journey to become fair and progressive employers. She believes that every organization has the potential to be a great workplace, and works with data to distil insights and develop resources to help them. When she’s not burrowing down the rabbit hole of numbers and words, she’s probably immersed in a new K-drama or catching up with friends over a virtual drinks session.

Great Place To Work identifies Best Workplaces in Asia™ by surveying 2.1 million employees in Asia and the Middle East about the key factors that create great workplaces for all and analyzing company workplace programs impacting 5.9 million employees in the region.

To be considered, companies must first be identified as outstanding in their local region by appearing on one or more of our Best Workplaces lists in Bahrain, Greater China (including China, Hong Kong and Taiwan), India, Indonesia, Japan, Kuwait, Oman, Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, UAE, Vietnam during 2022 or early 2023.

Companies rank in three size categories: Small and Medium (10-499 employees); Large (500+); and Multinational. Multinational organizations are also assessed on their efforts to create great workplaces across multiple countries in the region. They must appear on at least two national lists in Asia and the Middle East and have at least 1,000 employees worldwide with at least 40% (or 5,000+) of those employees located outside the headquarters country.

Great Place To Work identifies Best Workplaces in Asia™ by surveying over 1 million employees in Asia and the Middle East about the key factors that create great workplaces for all and analyzing company workplace programs impacting over 4.7 million employees in the region.

To be considered, companies must first be identified as outstanding in their local region by appearing on one or more of our Best Workplaces lists in Greater China (including China, Hong Kong and Taiwan), India, Indonesia, Japan, Kuwait, Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, UAE, Vietnam during 2021 or early 2022.

Companies rank in three size categories: Small and Medium (10-499 employees); Large (500+); and Multinational. Multinational organizations are also assessed on their efforts to create great workplaces across multiple countries in the region. They must appear on at least two national lists in Asia and the Middle East and have at least 1,000 employees worldwide with at least 40% (or 5,000) of those employees located outside the headquarters country.

Great Place To Work® Best Workplaces™ in Singapore 2023 Evaluation Methodology

This year, Great Place To Work® Singapore is proud to launch our inaugural Singapore Best Workplaces™ in Healthcare & Biopharma List. This list recognizes exemplary companies in the healthcare & biopharma industry.

Recognized as a global hub for medical technology and research, Singapore has attracted top healthcare and biopharma talents and companies from around the world. It has become the center for essential healthcare services and innovations with its world-class research institutes, academic medical centers, and industry clusters.

In turn, the healthcare and biopharma sectors play a critical role in the country’s economic competitiveness, sustainability, and innovation. These industries have significantly helped in the overall improvement of public health and well-being of the people of Singapore and its neighboring countries.

The inaugural Singapore Best Workplaces in Healthcare and Biopharma List puts the spotlight on the organizations that are dedicated to providing employee satisfaction and engagement, and their commitment to excellence in the industry.

The companies in our Great Place To Work Certified™ community have the premier distinction that helps attract the best talent, build your employer brand, and secure a competitive advantage. To achieve this, they built a working environment that is purpose-driven and people-first. These companies have demonstrated that showing authentic care, prioritizing employee’s holistic well-being, and building a culture of trust go hand in hand with growth and success.

To determine the 2023 Singapore’s Best Workplaces in Healthcare and Biopharma, Great Place to Work®️ analyzed confidential survey feedback representing nearly 12,000 employees working in the tech industry in Singapore.Employees responded to over 60 survey questions describing the extent to which their organization creates a Great Place to Work For All™️. Eighty-five percent of the evaluation is based on what employees say about their experiences of trust and reaching their full human potential as part of their organization, no matter who they are or what they do. Great Place to Work analyzes these experiences relative to each organization’s size, workforce make up, and what’s typical relative to their peers in the industry.The remaining 15 percent of the rank is based on an assessment of all employees’ daily experiences of innovation, the company’s values, and the effectiveness of their leaders, to ensure they’re consistently experienced.To be considered, companies had to meet the Great Place to Work-Certified standard. To ensure survey results truly represent all employees, Great Place to Work requires that Trust Index©️ survey results are accurate to a 95% confidence level with a 5% margin of error or better. We review any anomalies in survey responses, news and financial performance to ensure there aren’t any extraordinary reasons to believe we couldn’t trust a company’s survey results. Companies with 10 to 99 people were considered for the small and medium category; companies with 100 employees or more were considered for the large category.

Great Place To Work® Best Workplaces™ in Singapore 2023 Evaluation Methodology

To determine the 2023 Singapore’s Best Workplaces in Technology, Great Place To Work®️ analyzed confidential survey feedback representing nearly 12,000 employees working in the tech industry in Singapore. Employees responded to over 60 survey questions describing the extent to which their organization creates a Great Place To Work For All™️. Eighty-five percent of the evaluation is based on what employees say about their experiences of trust and reaching their full human potential as part of their organization, no matter who they are or what they do. Great Place To Work analyzes these experiences relative to each organization’s size, workforce make up, and what’s typical relative to their peers in the industry. The remaining 15 percent of the rank is based on an assessment of all employees’ daily experiences of innovation, the company’s values, and the effectiveness of their leaders, to ensure they’re consistently experienced. To be considered, companies had to meet the Great Place To Work-Certified standard. To ensure survey results truly represent all employees, Great Place To Work requires that Trust Index©️ survey results are accurate to a 95% confidence level with a 5% margin of error or better. We review any anomalies in survey responses, news and financial performance to ensure there aren’t any extraordinary reasons to believe we couldn’t trust a company’s survey results. Companies with 10 to 99 people were considered for the small and medium category; companies with 100 employees or more were considered for the large category.

Methodology

This year, Great Place To Work™ Singapore is proud to launch our inaugural Singapore Best Workplaces in Technology List. This List recognizes exemplary companies in the information and communication technologies industry in four categories:

  • Micro category (10–29 employees)
  • Small (30-99 employees)
  • Medium (100-999 employees)
  • Large (> 1000 employees)

With Singapore’s ambition to be recognized as a regional technology hub, the influx of technology firms (around 80 of the world’s top 100 technology firms have a presence here) and global rankings that place us a leading technology hub outside of San Francisco, the establishment of a Singapore Best Workplaces List in Technology is indeed a timely and needed one. Technology firms in Singapore are characterized by hyper-growth and ambitious expansion plans. This means a continuous war for talent in a highly competitive and rapidly evolving industry.

To maintain our lead as a technology and innovation hub, the ability to attract, retain and sustain skilled talent is critical. We are proud that companies in our Great Place To Work®-Certified community List have built a high-trust culture, engaged employees and maximized their potential to facilitate innovation. They are purpose-driven and adopt a people-first mindset. These are companies that have shown that authentic care and employee well-being need not be compromised for ambitious growth, and that it is possible for businesses to scale up quickly and responsibly. Their culture and core values are embodied in every individual—from senior leadership to rank-and-file employees—and differentiate them from their competitors, priming them to be powerful magnets for top talent.

To determine the 2022 Singapore’s Best Workplaces in Technology, Great Place To Work®️ analyzed confidential survey feedback representing nearly 12,000 employees working in the tech industry in Singapore.Employees responded to over 60 survey questions describing the extent to which their organization creates a Great Place To Work For All™️. Eighty-five percent of the evaluation is based on what employees say about their experiences of trust and reaching their full human potential as part of their organization, no matter who they are or what they do. Great Place To Work analyzes these experiences relative to each organization’s size, workforce make up, and what’s typical relative to their peers in the industry.The remaining 15 percent of the rank is based on an assessment of all employees’ daily experiences of innovation, the company’s values, and the effectiveness of their leaders, to ensure they’re consistently experienced. To be considered, companies had to meet the Great Place To Work-Certified standard. To ensure survey results truly represent all employees, Great Place To Work requires that Trust Index©️ survey results are accurate to a 95% confidence level with a 5% margin of error or better. We review any anomalies in survey responses, news and financial performance to ensure there aren’t any extraordinary reasons to believe we couldn’t trust a company’s survey results. Companies with 10 to 99 people were considered for the small and medium category; companies with 100 employees or more were considered for the large category

 

Methodology

To determine the 2022 Singapore’s Best Workplaces™️, Great Place To Work®️ analyzed confidential survey feedback representing close to 70,000 employees across different industries in Singapore. Employees responded to over 60 survey questions describing the extent to which their organization creates a Great Place to Work For All™️. 85% of the evaluation is based on what employees say about their experiences of trust and reaching their full human potential as part of their organization, no matter who they are or what they do.

Great Place To Work analyzes these experiences relative to each organization’s size, workforce make up, and what’s typical in their industry. The remaining 15% of the rank is based on an assessment of all employees’ daily experiences of innovation, the company’s values, and the effectiveness of their leaders, to ensure they’re consistently experienced. To be considered, companies had to meet the Great Place To Work Certified standard. To ensure survey results truly represent all employees, Great Place To Work requires that Trust Index©️ survey results are accurate to a 95% confidence level with a 5% margin of error or better. We review any anomalies in survey responses, news and financial performance to ensure there aren’t any extraordinary reasons to believe we couldn’t trust a company’s survey results.

Companies with 10-29 people were considered for the Micro category; those with 30 to 99 people for the Small category; companies with 100 to 999 employees were considered for the Medium category; and those with 1,000 or more for the Large category.

Great Place To Work® Best Workplaces™ in Singapore 2023 Evaluation Methodology

To determine the 2023 Singapore’s Best Workplaces in Technology, Great Place To Work®️ analyzed confidential survey feedback representing nearly 12,000 employees working in the tech industry in Singapore. Employees responded to over 60 survey questions describing the extent to which their organization creates a Great Place To Work For All™️. Eighty-five percent of the evaluation is based on what employees say about their experiences of trust and reaching their full human potential as part of their organization, no matter who they are or what they do. Great Place To Work analyzes these experiences relative to each organization’s size, workforce make up, and what’s typical relative to their peers in the industry. The remaining 15 percent of the rank is based on an assessment of all employees’ daily experiences of innovation, the company’s values, and the effectiveness of their leaders, to ensure they’re consistently experienced. To be considered, companies had to meet the Great Place To Work-Certified standard. To ensure survey results truly represent all employees, Great Place To Work requires that Trust Index©️ survey results are accurate to a 95% confidence level with a 5% margin of error or better. We review any anomalies in survey responses, news and financial performance to ensure there aren’t any extraordinary reasons to believe we couldn’t trust a company’s survey results. Companies with 10 to 99 people were considered for the small and medium category; companies with 100 employees or more were considered for the large category