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SBF takes on inequality with sustainable employment

The Sustainable Employment Pledge calls on firms to commit to improving employment practices

Business leaders and industry stakeholders pledging to support sustainable employment practices at SBF's Sustainable Employment Conference on Friday.


GIG platforms for high-skilled professionals could soon be a reality in light of a report released by the Singapore Business Federation (SBF).

This is one of six recommendations in the report aimed at tackling increasing inequality by supporting PMETs (professionals, managers, executives, and technicians), as well as mature workers and those in essential services such as cleaning.

At its Sustainable Employment Conference on Friday, SBF also called on businesses to pledge their support for sustainable employment practices.

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"When businesses commit to sustainable employment practices, they enable their employees, customers, contractors, communities, the entire business ecosystem to thrive," said SBF chairman S S Teo.

The report, Sustainable Employment - Achieving Purposeful Business Success Together, written in consultation with over 300 industry leaders and stakeholders, is "by business, for business", he added.

The report's recommendations include companies taking greater ownership of upskilling PMETs, redesigning jobs to suit mature employees, and selecting socially responsible vendors when outsourcing.

By outlining practical recommendations, the hope is that Singapore firms will be inspired to take action towards "purposeful business success", said Goh Swee Chen, chairman of the core committee behind the report.

To encourage long-term commitment, a programme office will be set up to monitor firms' progress, as well as organise programmes or actions for like-minded companies, said SBF chief executive officer Ho Meng Kit.

Ms Goh added: "In many ways, this report is a start, not an end."

Also announced was the Lighthouse Project, a model project designed to improve wages and prospects for essential service workers by enlarging job roles to cover multiple competencies and skills.

Partners for this project, expected to begin in early 2020, include Far East Organization, CapitaLand, Certis Group, CBM, Greenology, ISS Facility Services and Pontiac Land.

Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee affirmed the report's focus on tackling growing inequality. He said: "We don't want parallel universes in our cityscape - one where people are successful, and one where people feel disenfranchised."

To date, 61 companies have taken up the Sustainable Employment Pledge. They include large corporations and SMEs, with more expected to join their ranks.

In a dialogue at the conference, President Halimah Yacob noted the rarity of such an initiative coming from businesses, rather than workers' groups or government organisations.

Her sentiments were echoed by Minister for Manpower Josephine Teo, who noted the importance of businesses taking ownership over greater socioeconomic issues. She said: "SBF, with this report, demonstrates the commitment on the part of businesses … to be part of the solution."

Madam Halimah, when asked if there were other groups that were also vulnerable to job disruption, highlighted people with disabilities, and women. "We've made progress, but we are not perfect," she said, noting the role of sustainable employment practices in creating "a society which recognises all kinds of different abilities".

Work-life balance is also key for an employment ecosystem that is friendly, supportive and sustainable, she added.