‘Respect local culture': Singapore minister rebukes US investment bank for LGBT recruitment drive

'Foreign companies here should not venture into public advocacy for causes that sow discord amongst Singaporeans,' a minister said in response to news that a company is hosting a recruitment dinner for LGBT students

‘Respect local culture': Singapore minister rebukes US investment bank for LGBT recruitment drive
03 May 2014

A Singapore minister has admonished a multinational company in Singapore for its recruitment practice saying that foreign companies ‘should not venture into public advocacy for causes that sow discord amongst Singaporeans.’

Although no specific company was mentioned in his Facebook post on Friday, Chan Chun Sing who is the Minister for Social and Family Development had prefaced his post saying that he had been asked to comment about a recent newspaper report which featured ‘the recruitment practice of a multinational company.’

The article he was referring to is believed to a report by MyPaper on Wednesday which said that US-based investment bank Goldman Sachs will be hosting a recruitment and networking dinner for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students later this month at its office in Singapore.

Chan, a member of the country’s ruling People’s Action Party, wrote on Friday: ‘Singapore a largely conservative society. While different groups may express their different points of view, everyone should respect the sensitivities of others and not create division.

‘Singapore and Singaporeans will decide on the norms for our society. 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 also added that employment in Singapore is based on one’s merit and ability.
‘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.’

Goldman Sachs, which says on its website that it has over 80 affinity networks and interest forums globally including a gobal LGBT  employee network, has been an active supporter of LGBT events and community organisations in Asia including the annual Hong Kong Pride Parade, Boys and Girls Club Association of Hong Kong (BGCA) which addresses the issue of homophobic in schools, and Gays and Lesbians of Waseda (GLOW) in Japan.

Goldman Sachs could not be reached by press time.

The US-based investment bank is slated to be announced as a sponsor of Singapore’s gay-affirmative Pink Dot rally – to be held June 28, 2014 – for the first time this year. Multinationals such as J.P. Morgan, Google and Barclays have been sponsors of Pink Dot Singapore in previous years.

When contacted by Gay Star News, Paerin Choa of Pink Dot Singapore, said in a statement that while the group lauds the minister’s stance on discrimination, it is ‘disappointed’ as to the context in which his comments were made.

Choa added, ‘efforts made by multinational companies such as Goldman Sachs, as well as past Pink Dot contributors such as Google, Barclays, J P Morgan, CooperVision, PARKROYAL on Pickering and The Gunnery have helped foster a more inclusive and welcoming corporate landscape for talents.

‘In their respective ways, they are exemplars in creating fair, conducive and accepting work environments for their employees, who know that they have the support they need to be themselves at work, without fear or prejudice.’

At a recent Out on the Street conference held on May 1 in New York, CEOs and senior executives of MNCs including leaders of Mastercard, Citigroup, Bloomberg, Thomson Reuters, and KPMG discussed what their firms can do to promote LGBTI equality

In 2012, Lloyd C. Blankfein, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Goldman Sachs, became the first national corporate spokesman in the United States to support same-sex marriage in a campaign by the Human Rights Campaign.

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