SINGAPORE — While foreign companies operating in Singapore are free to decide on their human resource policies, they must respect cultural norms here and should not publicly advocate causes that could sow discord among Singaporeans, said Social and Family Development Minister Chan Chun Sing.
While he did not name any company in his strongly-worded post on his Facebook page — only saying that Singaporeans had asked for his views on the recruitment practice of a multinational company here — MyPaper reported on Wednesday that investment bank Goldman Sachs is planning a recruitment and networking dinner for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students.
Noting that Singapore is a largely conservative society and that the Republic’s norms will be decided by Singaporeans, Mr Chan wrote: “Foreign companies here should respect local culture and context. They are entitled to decide and articulate their human resource policies, but they should not venture into public advocacy for causes that sow discord amongst Singaporeans.”
He added: “While different groups may express their different points of view, everyone should respect the sensitivities of others and not create division.”
Mr Chan also stressed that employment in Singapore is based on merit and ability, adding that discrimination, “be it positive or negative; whether based on race, language, religion or sexual orientation, is not aligned with our social ethos and has no place in our society”.
When contacted yesterday, Goldman Sachs declined to comment.
The firm’s event listing webpage states that the recruitment and networking dinner is scheduled for the middle of this month at its office here, for participants to find out more about the company and “discuss issues and concerns regarding being ‘out’ in the workplace”.
A source at the bank told TODAY the event would be a small-scale dinner and stressed that it was no different from other recruitment events where those interested can learn about the opportunities in a particular industry.
The webpage also states that Goldman Sachs will sponsor the coming Pink Dot event next month. Pink Dot is a non-profit LGBT advocacy movement.
Goldman Sachs is among several international financial institutions known to be active in advocating workplace diversity, with employee support groups developed globally for LGBTs, disabled individuals and war veterans, among others.
Credit Suisse and JP Morgan, for example, also organise LGBT networks for employees. But this stance has no bearing on recruitment strategies, the latter told TODAY, adding: “JP Morgan supports diversity in workplace, including LGBTs, but not exclusively.”