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Hong Kong employees hiding sexuality massively impacts work performance

November 23, 2018 Hotel News No Comments Email Email

Industry leaders across Hong Kong’s corporate and social sectors attended the 2018 Diversity & Inclusion Conference held atHotel ICON in collaboration with HR Magazine on 16 November 2018 to demonstrate commitment to Diversity and Inclusion in the workplace. Employees in Hong Kong as well as globally are massively impacted by being less efficient when they feel they cannot be themselves at work. Through keynote speeches and panel discussions, the conference further stressed the importance of tackling inequality and embracing a progressive work culture.

Drawing on the idea that a respectful and inclusive workplace in which employees feel safe is a productive one, notable speakers discussed a range of strategies which had been successful in their organisations. Attendees to the event discussed initiatives to develop LGBT+, multigenerational, multicultural and physical and mental disability awareness and support from grassroots level to HR and senior leadership initiatives. In aid of driving the message of respect, inclusion, engagement and retention in the workplace, and making employees feel safe and supported, many of the speakers shared of their own real-life stories of tragedy and triumph.

Growing up as a third-culture kid and having worked and lived in over 13 different countries, Richard Hatter, General Manager, Hotel Icon, spoke from experience when he stated in his opening address, “Inclusion is about empathy. If you make someone feel like an outsider, they are an outsider.” It was with this sentiment of empathy in mind that he established the, ‘We Love to Care’ programme to enhance the engagement of his staff towards the hotel guests and build awareness of any unconscious cultural bias. The impact of the programme has resulted in his staff repeatedly exceeding the service expectations of the guests and Hotel Icon moving up three TripAdvisor rankings.

Support can come from a range of avenues within the workplace, and Alexandra Maiden, AsiaPac Talent Leader, Financial Services, EY highlighted workplace ‘allies’ as an extremely powerful initiative to build support and generate positive conversations. However, the training of allies itself is crucial as they often need positive reinforcement and knowledge to operate effectively in the business. She remarked, “We have voluntary ‘allies’ training and what we have found is that most questions from allies are around how to demonstrate they are an ally and how to not put someone in a difficult or uncomfortable situation. Those questions come from everywhere in Asia Pacific.”

Before businesses can effectively create a safe workplace, they need to develop an understanding of the size of the community. Walter Tsui, Co-founder and Executive Manager, CareER highlighted, “To start your disability and inclusion journey, it is important to realise that there are around 500,000 people living with disabilities in Hong Kong. If your organisation’s recruitment process is not inclusive enough, both your organisation and your clients will miss out on a lot of opportunities and value that could come from this demographic.” Keith Lui, Director, Global Prime Finance APAC, Deutsche Bank AG added, “In order to build awareness, we have facilitated workshops and information sessions to raise our staff’s awareness about the reality of working with people with disabilities. From this place of awareness, we can then build engagement.”

Creating inclusive environments is a concept not solely restricted to the workplace, but more broadly about people and society. Jack Guest, Regional Lead of Diversity and Inclusion, HSBC, shared company initiatives around fostering LGBT+ talent and creating an environment of inclusiveness in and out of the workplace. He noted, “LGBT+ acceptance is more than just within a corporation, it’s also about society. The way that we can influence the wider community is to visibly show the company’s values.”

Creating a safe work environment that makes employees feel valued can also be an effective business tool, as evidenced by Fern Ngai, CEO, Community Business in her breakdown of where certain companies have successfully marketed themselves as safe and progressive. Fern Ngai, CEO, Community Business summarised, “In order to build an inclusive workplace culture and mindset, we must think about how diversity and inclusion can be aligned with our brand to show authenticity and commitment.” She continued, “Although progress is slow, things are moving in the right direction.”

This conference was not only about developing an understanding of the challenges of creating an inclusive workforce but also a platform to offer practical solutions. The atmosphere was positive and many delegates took away a suite of initiatives designed to foster respect, inclusion and engagement across their own organisations. While true diversity and inclusion in the workplace still has a long road to travel, for many it is a journey built on better knowledge and shared experiences.

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