I am appalled that DBS is airing in public what should be a staff-in-confidence matter. Yesterday, they issued a statement to the Straits Times — which I understand was unsolicited — stating that they disapprove of their Vice President of Credit Cards, Josie Lau, taking up the presidency of women’s group AWARE.
Today, when asked by TOC, they stated that they were “disappointed that Josie knowingly disregarded DBS’ staff code of conduct twice”, adding that Lau had not sought approval for either running for the AWARE exco or standing for nomination as AWARE president.
Why does this need to be aired in public? This brings back memories of another organisation in Singapore which hung a former employee out to dry when he was attempting to run for public office.
In any case, since DBS is prepared to be so “transparent” about its internal policies, allow me to comment on these policies.
If their staff code of conduct really states that all staff must seek permission before taking on any “external appointments”, then I think this is overly controlling. What constitutes an “external appointment”? Usually this refers to for-profit employment, not volunteer work.
DBS has over 14,000 staff. Has every staff who volunteers and takes on leadership positions sought permission? If so, their HR either has a lot of paperwork to clear, or the volunteerism rate in DBS is extremely low.
Is it really necessary to regulate what staff do in their own time? Can’t staff be judged by their productivity in the office and the results they achieve? If a staff performs poorly because they are too involved in “ECAs”, then by all means sack him or her. But don’t assume that a staff’s outside activities will encroach on her work. And so what if the staff seeks approval? Is HR going to decide based on how much time they think the staff is going to spend during their free time? I don’t think they are qualified to make that sort of judgement.
Most importantly, I wonder if this so-called rule is applied uniformly. If Josie Lau ran for, say, PAP Women’s Wing chairmanship, would she have to ask for approval too? In fact, I know someone who was a VP in DBS and at the same time in the Young PAP exco. Whether he asked for permission or not, I don’t know.