Equality Culture Technology

Perception gap between leaders and staff in Singapore on workplace equality


By Shawn Lim, Reporter, Asia Pacific

March 5, 2020 | 4 min read

Leaders and employees in Singapore view progress toward equality significantly differently in their organisations despite believing it is critical to helping them thrive in the workplace.


Accenture's new report called “Getting to Equal 2020: The Hidden Value of Culture Makers” includes research across 28 countries

84% of women and 78% of men said they increasingly care about workplace culture and a majority of leaders (63%) believe an inclusive workplace culture is vital to the success of their business. Three-quarters of leaders (73%) feel they create empowering environments where staff have a sense of belonging, yet just one third (30%) of employees agree.

In addition, the proportion of employees who do not feel included in their organisations (27%) is higher than leaders believe (0%) respectively.

A majority of leaders also rank diversity and workplace culture low on their list of top organisational priorities as three-quarters of leaders ranked brand recognition and quality and financial performance at the top of their list of priorities (77% and 74%, respectively). Only 35% ranked diversity and 28% ranked culture at the top.

These results are according to a new Accenture report called 'Getting to Equal 2020: The Hidden Value of Culture Makers', which includes research across 28 countries.

“Our findings show a large perception gap between the way leaders and employees in Singapore view progress towards equality in their organisations. Closing this gap is critical to creating an environment that unleashes innovation, allows employees to perform at their best and underpins a culture in which everyone feels they have an equal opportunity to belong and build a career, said Lay Lim Teo, the senior managing director for Accenture in South East Asia.

“In fact, by closing the gap, our findings estimated that Asia Pacific leads in profits at US$1.35tn, higher than other regions. Setting, sharing and measuring work performance openly across all levels is one of the ways where organisations can display their commitment to developing diverse talents. It is also one where Accenture implements to achieve a gender-balanced workforce by 2025”.

The report suggests that aligning leaders’ perceptions with those of their employees would yield huge upsides as everyone would advance faster and organisations would see an estimated US$3.7 trillion (US$1.35 trillion in Asia-Pacific) increase in global profits.

To help close perception gaps and drive progress toward a more equal culture that benefits everyone and enables leaders to continuously evolve their strategies to meet changing needs, the report recommends that leaders must truly believe that culture matters and prioritise it.

For example, benchmark progress toward a culture of equality by setting and publishing targets; and reward and recognise leaders and teams on progress. A culture of equality starts at the top.

In addition, leaders must go beyond the data to solicit meaningful and continuous dialogue with employees. They can consider face-to-face meetings, focus groups, town halls and have ongoing, real-time conversations with employees to help capture feedback and empower leadership to quickly drive change.

Leaders must also create an empowering environment by encouraging and cultivating culture makers by creating opportunities for them to opt-in and take on specific culture-related roles in their offices or departments.

There also should be ways available for leaders and culture-minded employees to develop specific and actionable solutions together.

Read the full report here.

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