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Published on Apr 30, 2014

Wanted by Goldman Sachs: LGBT employees

IN WHAT could be a first here, renowned investment bank Goldman Sachs has made a specific recruitment call to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students.

Next month, it will hold an LGBT recruitment and networking dinner at its Singapore office, where attendees would be able to "discuss issues and concerns regarding being 'out' in the workplace with participants".

An event listing on the company's website also made reference to its support of the Pink Dot event that is to take place in June.

Goldman Sachs has been firm on being inclusive, regardless of gender, race or sexual orientation, boasting a list of employee networks such as The Disability Interest Forum, The Goldman Sachs Women's Network and LGBT Network.

Human resource experts told My Paper that given the labour crunch, companies should be mindful about closing doors on any specific group of people.

Erman Tan, president of the Singapore Human Resources Institute, said: "It is good for employer branding as it shows that they are open and unconventional in their approach.

"It can appear very attractive, especially to the younger generation."

Such a move would also send a strong signal to the rest of the LGBT community that it is an organisation that does not discriminate against any type of talent, said Linda Teo, country manager of Manpower Staffing Services (Singapore).

"As companies strive to be globalised and be competitive in their own industry, it is imperative to have a good diversity of talent for their workplace, regardless of gender, sexuality or race," she said.

Companies here are becoming more accepting of LGBT employees, but multinational companies clearly take the lead in this.

Many Asian or local firms remain conservative, said experts.

Ms Teo said it might just be a case of being "unsure of what to expect or how to manage their interactions with co-workers", which can be resolved with open communication or adjustments in work processes, when necessary.

But there are those who choose to just not shine the spotlight on the issue.

Ronald Lee, managing director of PrimeStaff Management Services, said companies evaluate any application based on an individual's competencies. "They don't ask personal questions like one's sexual orientation," he said.

Mr Tan said: "Some companies have the policy not to talk about it but once you declare it to them, they become unfavourable towards you."

Jean Chong, co-founder of lesbian group Sayoni, said: "Singapore is very backward in this aspect, so it is good that major financial institutions are taking the lead.

"But the world is changing and, sooner or later, this will no longer be a big deal."

samboh@sph.com.sg