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  • SBF Calls on Businesses to Take Purposeful Action on Sustainable Employment

SBF Calls on Businesses to Take Purposeful Action on Sustainable Employment

  • A by-business-for-business initiative, SBF puts forth six key recommendations targeted at addressing the employment needs of the elderly, the less well-off and those vulnerable to job disruption
  • The report was put together in consultation with over 300 business leaders and industry stakeholders over eight months.
  • SBF calls on all Singapore businesses, including its 27,000 members, to pledge their support for sustainable employment practices. To date, more than 60 companies have made the pledge.
Friday, 22 November 2019 [Singapore] The Singapore Business Federation (SBF) unveiled a special report titled “Sustainable Employment – Achieving Purposeful Business Success Together” at a conference today. Calling on the business community to take purposeful action on sustainable employment in anticipation of emergent trends and future developments, the report highlights key recommendations and potential opportunities for businesses to take on, in order to foster a vibrant economy and inclusive society.

Rapid advances in technology are fundamentally changing how jobs are done at breakneck speed, causing a mismatch between the skills of our workforce and the jobs available. The rising life expectancy of Singaporeans, coupled with a declining birth rate, are also putting immense pressure on society as a silvering and shrinking workforce struggles to support an ageing population. And all these are exacerbated by a group of low-wage employees whose wages seem stagnant. As the gulf between the skilled and unskilled, the young and old, and the rich and poor widens, such disruptions will worsen if not adequately addressed.

The report puts forth six recommendations targeted at addressing the employment needs of the elderly, the less well-off and those vulnerable to job disruption. These recommendations call on businesses to:
  1. Take greater ownership of upskilling the PMET workforce
  2. Develop platforms to match high-skilled professionals to gig work with support infrastructure such as accreditation, insurance, legal protection as well as training and development in place
  3. Stamp out age discrimination by championing policies, processes and programmes that help mature employees to contribute and thrive in their workplaces
  4. Redesign jobs to match the profile, needs and strengths of mature employees
  5. Select socially responsible vendors in outsourcing arrangements by shifting from pure cost considerations towards outcome- and value-based sourcing
  6. Transform jobs by changing work processes through innovation to enlarge job scopes, raise wages and provide better career progression
This is a business-led effort driven by SBF in consultation with over 300 business leaders, trade associations and chambers (TACs), community organisations, academia and other stakeholders, including a 19-strong core committee chaired by President of the Global Compact Network Singapore (GCNS) and former Chairman of Shell Companies in Singapore, Ms Goh Swee Chen. To date, 20 TACs have come forward to support the recommendations, including the Association of Small and Medium Enterprises, the Singapore Retailers Association, the Landscape Industry Association of Singapore as well as the ethnic, industry and foreign chambers of commerce.

Emphasising the importance of enlightened action by businesses in Singapore, Ms Goh said, “Businesses form the backbone of the workforce and economy and hold much sway over societal outcomes. A vibrant economy is a powerful tool to lift families out of poverty and to narrow the inequality gap. Purposeful actions in sustainable employment will strengthen the very environment businesses need in order to thrive.”

At the conference attended by more than 200 business leaders and industry stakeholders, Guest-of-Honour President Mdm Halimah Yacob launched the Sustainable Employment Pledge (see Annex A) with 20 Singapore companies, comprising of SMEs, MNCs and large enterprises on stage. During the conference, President Halimah also participated in a dialogue moderated by SBF CEO Mr Ho Meng Kit. Minister for Manpower and Second Minister for Home Affairs Mrs Josephine Teo and Minister for Social and Family Development and Second Minister for National Development Mr Desmond Lee also attended the conference.

To date, more than 60 organisations have pledged their support. They include Far East Organization, CapitaLand, REBEL GURL, Caregiver Asia, ExxonMobil Asia Pacific and Certis CISCO (see Annex B for full list of organisations).

Far East Organization CEO Mr Philip Ng who is also a core committee member of the initiative said, “The Pledge principles are aligned with Far East Organization’s commitment to creating meaningful and resilient careers for our employees. We look forward to doing so through a sustained and enduring approach.”

Another early adopter of the pledge is Mr Sandy Monteiro, CEO of REBEL GURL, a local sandwich deli that has set itself apart from its eco-friendly packaging to its unusual employee profit-share programme. “We hire people regardless of background, experience or qualifications, but instead we look at their motivation and attitude. Through fair industry wages and our profit-share programme, we aspire to provide our employees an opportunity to change their lives and in doing so, we’ve created our own recipe for success.”

SBF Chairman Mr S.S. Teo said, “As the apex business chamber, SBF initiated this effort as the business community’s gift to the nation in its Bicentennial year. This is in recognition that businesses, too, are an integral part of society. The Bicentennial story is about how a diverse flow of people and geopolitical currents have shaped the story and success of Singapore.”

“Similarly, this effort by the business community is reflective of how society can come together, with businesses working alongside Government, social organisations, and Singaporeans themselves to uplift the lives of all and work together towards Singapore’s continued success.”

“By being proactive, businesses can have the flexibility to explore and adopt ideas and solutions that play to their strengths. Ultimately, sustainable employment leads to better businesses and healthier long-term growth. We all can do business better.”

SBF CEO Mr Ho Meng Kit added, “We call on all businesses to pledge their commitment to sustainable employment. This will be a medium- to long-term effort on everyone’s part in terms of actions and impact. On SBF’s part, we will establish a Programme Office to work closely with our business community and partners, including the trade association and chambers, to take the recommendations in the report forward.

“This is just the beginning. We hope the report will inspire companies to not just rethink the way they do businesses, but to act and commit to adopting a sustainable employment practice in the next 12 months. With our concerted effort, we can narrow the gap so that everyone, businesses and employees, can progress in tandem with economic growth and the technological innovation.”

Companies that wish to pledge their support for sustainable employment or access the full report can visit http://bit.ly/SustainableEmployment2019

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