Diversity Insights from the SMU-Barclays D&I Business Challenge 2014 Champs

Wednesday, February 4, 2015
Cultural tensions, stigma, and implicit prejudices towards people with disabilities were some of the issues tackled at the SMU-Barclays Diversity & Inclusion Business Challenge 2014.
A record 39 student teams participated, and over this past mid-term break, the competition’s top prize winners visited Tokyo, Japan, and met with REACH, Barclays’ Disability Employee Network. 
At this meeting, Barclays executives spoke about the challenges faced by people with disabilities in Japan, the changes underway, as well as initiatives undertaken by their organisation. Our student representatives shared their proposal and a summary of disability issues in Singapore. 
Here’s what they had to say about their experience:
It was great to have witnessed, first-hand, how diversity issues are tackled in another country. There’s a lot to be done, but I found it especially promising to see companies like Barclays giving their employees with disabilities platforms to share their knowledge and experiences. It’s important to increase awareness on issues like disability.
Lim Jun Yan
School of Information Systems
I'm really thankful to have attempted to understand complex issues in diversity through the competition. This trip allowed me to appreciate diversity issues in a different cultural context, and it gave me insights on how different actors can collectively reach common goals. The journey to remove stereotypes and stigma is on-going and this trip showed me how much more I still have to learn.
Seraphina Leo
School of Social Sciences 
The tour around the Barclays office gave me several insights on how small changes in the environment such as braille texts and mirrors can create so much convenience for people with disabilities. It was alos clear from the discussion that, in order for diversity and inclusion at workplace to be successful, support from the management is extremely vital.
Sharlyn Koh
Lee Kong Chian School of Business
This trip was enriching. Being immersed in another culture and understanding their approach to life and work has made me more appreciative of the need to be culturally aware. Diversity is inevitable in our daily lives. After speaking to the executives at Barclays, Tokyo, I feel that I have a better sense now of how I can make a difference.
Terence Long 
School of Information Systems