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Will you talk to your manager... about high-level racism.

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IOP
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Will you talk to your manager... about high-level racism.

Postby IOP » Sat, 21 Aug 2010 4:46 pm

Can you imagine that you are citizen of a poor country, but you are clever and you always do your job better than some of your colleagues from UK, AU or other EU countries - you came to Singapore and you work with them, you clear see theirs skills and you understand that they are far away from yours. And you work during a long time for the same big financial organization from Western Europe and you see real market data from different internal sources - you see that those who came to work from UK/AU or EU make 50% more than you or your clever Asian colleagues, but theirs contribution is clear and it is lower than yours and your clever Asian colleagues. Of course, it's in general, because I work with many clever guys from UK/AU/EU: it means that many guys with poor skills from UK/AU/EU earn more then guys from poor countries but with great skills.

Can you imagine that one day your non-westernized boss (who had access to the salary database) decided to leave the company and he decided to tell you privately the truth - he said that if you were from UK/AU or EU you will make +50%. And you have so many facts. But you are still happy with your organization, but you understand that these precedents are not good, will you talk to your big boss from UK to fix this? Because maybe such attitude comes not from the head, but from the middle.

What kind of mentality do western people have? What if I come to them with these facts?
Or maybe such attitude is normal in Europe? May SG authorities be involved if situation become worse after this talk? May I defend my self and be courageous with understanding that I'm from a poor country and if I loose, then my returning to home will be like hell? What I think that because these guys knows where guys like me came from and they think that we are weak, so they may neglect.

It's all about attitude, not about money.

I know I'm not alone. Thanks.
Last edited by IOP on Sat, 21 Aug 2010 8:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby poodlek » Sat, 21 Aug 2010 5:16 pm

To my knowledge, this isn't a western attitude problem, it's a Singaporean opportunistic thing that reaches across all industries here but is apparently legal so it goes unchecked, even though it is unfair. The way I see it is, a westerner is not likely to move to Singapore for a salary that is less than what they're making in their home country. Let's say two equally qualified people, one from Canada and one from Bangladesh have the same job in their home countries. The Canadian guy may make $50,000/year where the Bangladeshi guy makes only $10,000/year. A Singaporean company would likely have to offer a 20% increase to lure the Canadian to their company ($60,000/year) , whereas to the Bangladeshi $30,000/year may seem like an absolute fortune. The Singaporeans use what you would otherwise be making at home to gauge what to offer you. Is it right? Probably not. But it's the custom here. If you don't like it you could move to Canada where they have laws against that sort of thing.

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Postby sundaymorningstaple » Sat, 21 Aug 2010 5:26 pm

Poodlek is spot on.

The thought processes of local bosses is that they can pay a premium over what a 3rd world country employee would earn at home "if he could find a job" and that employee should be grateful. Whereas if, as mentioned, it a westerner then they have to bow down to the employee and pay considerably more than a local would earn in order be able to entice the westerner over here. The fact that a person from a 3rd world country is worth MORE in absolute dollars IN SINGAPORE falls on deaf ears here. I've had this discussion so many times in the last 14 years with my two Asian bosses that I know, rationally, I'm wasting my time. It's a mindset. Here they don't pay for knowledge, but for face. They will pay for face and to them, having an Ang Mo face in the company always does it. It's wrong and I see it even among the hiring of the different races of Singaporeans as well.

So in answer to the OP's question, yes, I'd talk to the boss, but ensure you have another job to go to as you will most likely be marked for deletion later. I get away with it because everybody in Asia knows Ang Mo's are crazy and you can't always tell what they will do or how they will broadcast the problem. :P

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Postby IOP » Sat, 21 Aug 2010 5:39 pm

sundaymorningstaple wrote:Ang Mo face


Ang Mo - do you mean westerner, foreigner or Caucasian?
Well, I'm also foreigner and I'm Caucasian, but I'm not westerner. So, it's not about races, but about geography and politics. i.e. I don't want Asian people think that all Caucasian people are the same.

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Postby curiousgeorge » Sat, 21 Aug 2010 7:20 pm

I think there are also greater forces at work in these situations. I agree with SMS that 'face' has a lot to do with the status quo in Singapore.

Idealistically, everyone would be paid according to their market contribution in that market.

But here is two points for thought:

1) In my current organisation, we have people form different countries and even from the same countries earning different salaries for the same job. Their salary is based not on what the job is worth, but on what the employee is worth to the company - usually a small % over their previous salary. Westerners, usually having earned more in their home countries thus have higher salaries than locals. However there are a several of high-flying locals who earned more previously and thus earn more than their ang moh counterparts. In that sense, I guess it's "fair", but definitely not "equal".

What is interesting is that people are recruited in isolation, and they agree a salary with HR and join the company. They are happy with their offer or they wouldn't join, right? It's only when the office gossip starts and they begin to compare salaries that they get upset about the inequality. What was previously a generous offer is now too low, because "someone else earns more". This indicates that irrespective of country of origin, the inequality is only a problem when people compare themselves to others and discover they earn less - nobody EVER compares themselves to others and says "I should earn less".


2) When I worked on the ships, I would have Filpino staff and US/CA/UK/Oz staff doing the same job. Filipinos for $1000 a month, westerners for maybe $3000 a month. All employees send their salary home to enjoy when on shore rotation.

The filipino guys are earning maybe FIVE TIMES their national average wage. The westerners perhaps around 80% of their national average.

Who is the richer man when he gets home? Without a doubt the Filipino employee who is now considered "rich" in his home country.

I really struggled with the inequality of the salaries when I first started, that people earning differing amounts for the same job. But in the light of what that money is worth back home, I guess I see thing differently.

My conclusion is this: There is always someone better paid than you, either through nationality, longevity or whatever. Only agree to work for a salary you are happy with, and avoid asking other people what they earn.

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Postby x9200 » Sat, 21 Aug 2010 7:47 pm

Adding to the above there are also cases where actually the Westerners are discriminated as the status quo acceptable for many local bosses is to have the Caucasians employees but never promote them above certain managerial level or even to offer them on permanent position.
Last edited by x9200 on Sat, 21 Aug 2010 7:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby IOP » Sat, 21 Aug 2010 7:48 pm

curiousgeorge wrote:...


Well, you know it is maybe not about you agree or not agree:
companies usually have more power then you alone, and if you have no choice you need to agree. But what about Social Responsibility for companies and contribution to the equalities between people from different regions.
I'm not talking about communism or something like that, but 50% difference for the same job and when you are really see that these guys do not contribute much - well, I think that it is some kind of racism, but it has different forms now days.

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Postby x9200 » Sat, 21 Aug 2010 7:55 pm

IOP, it's a pure market driven thing. You are simply worth for them that much and that's it. Nobody says it is fair. Social responsibility is good for them if it can bring more money.

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Postby IOP » Sat, 21 Aug 2010 8:09 pm

x9200 wrote:Adding to the above there are also cases where actually the Westerners are discriminated as the status quo acceptable for many local bosses is to have the Caucasians employees but never promote them above certain managerial level or even to offer them on permanent position.


Let me comment also on this. Before I came to Singapore I worked for 2 US companies and then for company from Denmark - I worked together with people from these countries.
In Singapore I mainly work with people from UK, EU, China and India.

So I may compare a little bit.

At the beginning about Chinese. My Chinese colleague told me that it is natural that Chinese will hire and promote Chinese - after these words I started to feel "itching" in my ears, because we do not have such attitude in my country. Moreover, Chinese business mainly strong only in Asia, so I lived it in my mind to someone else. But I like the local government - they gave me a 20% tax discount during financial crisis.

When I worked with people from Denmark - they paid high salaries and attitude was great, no... maybe awesome.

I also like Americans, because usually they do not care about your face, but look at your skills, and if you contribute they pay good salaries and bonuses. Of course, I do not like that if they promise you something it means nothing until contract is not signed, but... it's okay... you simply should know about it.


So, different countries have different people, of course. But we know about Probability theory - it means that if you saw many bad cases from people from one country, it may mean that next people whom you will see from this country more probably will repeat them because of the culture.
Last edited by IOP on Mon, 23 Aug 2010 9:55 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Postby x9200 » Sat, 21 Aug 2010 8:50 pm

IOP, I really don't know... I am a Caucasian but not from the Western Europe, nor USA nor Australia so probably similar to you background but I have never encountered anything you described. I was always treated fair. Perhaps your experience is just a chain of bad coincidents, wrong ppl in a wrong place? One of my bosses is British and for me he is like an oasis of professional sanity in this country. I really feel you are generalizing.

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Postby IOP » Sat, 21 Aug 2010 8:53 pm

x9200 wrote:I really feel you are generalizing.


nope! ;-) it's just individual cases, but yes, with me, but of course the big picture consist of small pieces and also like those. but about salary difference - yes, everyone knows about this in my company and as I see other places has something like that.

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Postby Splatted » Sat, 21 Aug 2010 9:17 pm

personally speaking,

my pay is higher than a local fresh grad would get in same industry, and more on par with those of equal experience as mine.

However, in terms of net 'take-home pay', (after expenses) had I not had inlaws to fall back on to cover accommodation, my actual net pay would be considered lower than a local's because of all the additional expenses of living as a foreigner.

So, I tend to think that those who think it's 'unfair' how others get paid higher haven't really walked in their shoes, nor seen their actual bank balances.

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Postby IOP » Sat, 21 Aug 2010 9:31 pm

Splatted wrote:and more on par with those of equal experience as mine.


And you are from UK/EU/AU or any other well developed western country, right?

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Postby Splatted » Sat, 21 Aug 2010 9:42 pm

IOP wrote:
Splatted wrote:and more on par with those of equal experience as mine.


And you are from UK/EU/AU or any other well developed western country, right?


yes.

As is another friend of mine who has also just arrived. Half his pay goes to rent, while locals he works with live in HDB. Who do you think, of the two, finds it harder living in Singapore?

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Postby IOP » Sat, 21 Aug 2010 9:50 pm

Splatted wrote:yes.

As is another friend of mine who has also just arrived. Half his pay goes to rent, while locals he works with live in HDB. Who do you think, of the two, finds it harder living in Singapore?


Well, I cannot defend this case, because I'm not local, but I'm also foreigner and I have good skills and I work together with foreigners from these wester countries, and can you imagine that all those of them who have bad skills earn much more than me and my Asian colleges from other Asian countries. Of course, those westerners who have good skills and contribute, say, like me earn significantly more than me. Do not I or guys like me need to pay for apartments or maybe life quality becomes free for us? Will you like if you will be treated like this? Is attitude like that normal in your country?
Last edited by IOP on Sat, 21 Aug 2010 9:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.


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