The annual unveiling of the Oscar nominations is supposed to be a celebration of the film-making world’s finest talent.

Instead, this year’s so called slate of nominees for best and supporting male and female actors and actresses was in the spotlight for altogether different reasons. It was the first time since 1998 that the list of nominees had been all-white.

The resulting furore has led the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences to announce sweeping changes to the 6,000 strong membership which is responsible for selecting the nominees. This will see a doubling of the number of female and minority members by 2020.

Diversity is not just a big deal in the world of movies. It is also increasingly on the agenda of leading corporates as they fight to ensure they are able to attract the best global talent into their organisations and away from their competitors.

Repeatedly over the last five years, Armstrong Craven has been able to demonstrate its expertise in helping clients to build a talent pipeline of high quality, diverse candidates for now and for the future.


However, the most recent Randstad Workmonitor Mobility Index confirmed that there remain deep-seated issues around the world, not least in APAC.

Published four times a year, the Index tracks employee confidence, looking at factors such as employee satisfaction and personal motivation along with rotating sets of themed questions.

Among the findings of the most recent survey were:

  • Only 34% of people questioned in Japan felt sexual orientation is not an issue in their country compared to 58% globally;
  • 53% of Japanese employees say sexual orientation is an issue in their company compared to a global figure of 76%;
  • 44% of people in India have been the subject of discrimination due to sexual orientation compared to 15% globally;
  • 56% of employees in India had been a victim of age discrimination compared to 26% globally;
  • 50% of employees in India say they have suffered discrimination due to race, 34% in Malaysia and 25% in Singapore. This compares to 17% globally;
  • Gender discrimination remains a big issue in India with 49% saying they have suffered discrimination, compared to 21% globally;
  • Just 64% of employees in Japan say they have an open and inclusive company culture, compared to a global figure of 77%.


These figures matter if organisations operating on an increasingly global scale are going to attract the best talent. The need to address the diversity issue is all the more urgent when corporates are trying to hire employees with scarce skills.

Company culture matters to employees in many parts of APAC, often more than elsewhere in the world. Globally, 88% of employees will review a company’s reputation when looking for a job but in India this figure rises to 98%, in China it is 96%, Malaysia it is 95% and Singapore 93%.

It is a similar story when it comes to company culture. Globally, 87% want to know if the organisation is a good fit with them but in India and China the figure rises to 94%, in Singapore it is 93% and in Malaysia it is 90%.

A McKinsey report, Diversity Matters, published last year reinforced the message that a diverse workplace is “good for business”.

Key findings included:

  • Companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35% more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians;
  • Companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15% more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians.


A recent example of our work in the area of diversity and inclusion saw us partnering with a major financial services client which was struggling to attract and retain female leaders in corporate roles in Asia Pacific.

The assignment saw us engage with over 200 senior female professionals in the region to understand their career drivers and the challenges they faced. We also sought views on our client as a brand and as a prospective employer.

The result was a powerful evidence-based research report that informed our client about how it could become a more attractive employer to the targeted cohort. The organisation responded by implementing a number of changes to its employee proposition to improve its prospects of engaging with and attracting the best talent.

The project further resulted in Armstrong Craven creating a talent pipeline of 35 senior females across the region. Placements are already being made and regular networking is enabling our client to manage this talent pool directly.

All data is our client’s intellectual property and our work has dramatically reduced the cost and time to hire, providing an immediate and longer-term return on investment (ROI).

Diversity is not something you can pay lip service to. It has to be ingrained in an organisation’s culture. It is not about tackling issues like gender or race or age or sexual orientation in isolation. It is about developing robust policies and practices and embedding them into the way a corporate does business across all of its territories.

We know from our work how transformational it can be for those who get it right.

Follow Heather @singaporeAC

www.armstrongcraven.com