Discrimination, Singapore-style

2007

Sadly, racial discrimination in the workplace appears to be a worldwide problem, despite all the efforts to curb it. Things are no different in Singapore, as a Today Online article reports.

The job market can tough in Singapore if you're not Mandarin speaking – in other words, if you're Malaysian or Indian. According to a recent study, the problem goes beyond the workplace and is even apparent in schools.

The government response is to "take action" once discrimination occurs. Yet this response is reactionary and opens the government up to criticism of superficially "treating the wound" instead of addressing the real issue.

Another solution put forth by Singapore authorities is a web site that explains cultural differences in the primary ethnicities in Singapore. While noble, I can't imagine how many people – especially those who engage in discriminatory practices – will actually read this web site. Perhaps seminars and surprise adherence checks might be a better way of stopping potential offenders from making the jump to actual offender.

Ultimately, it will come down to companies to police their own personnel and root out any discriminatory practices – something which will require considerable management buy-in. Unfortunately, while I don't see this problem ever truly being eradicated, it's good to see some movement in the right direction.

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