How ethnic minority workers are shunned in Hong Kong

First initiative of its kind in Hong Kong sees 20 major firms sign up, reports SCMP

Balvinder Singh at gurdwara at Wan Chai – Photo: Nota Tam / SCMP
By David Vetter | SCMP |

Balwinder Singh Brar remembers his early days at the finance company where he worked as an adviser.

Everyone in the office was Chinese, and he stood out not only as the only non-Chinese but also as a Sikh with a beard and long hair under his turban.

“They had no idea where I was from, why I looked like this,” he recalls.

But some of his more outgoing workmates eventually asked about his appearance. “They said they’d never met someone like me before, so they wanted to understand,” he says.

Singh, 24, who was born and raised in Hong Kong and speaks fluent Cantonese, was only too happy to tell others about his South Asian and Sikh background, and most of his colleagues quickly accepted him.

His experience was largely positive, but many non-Chinese – and South Asians in particular – find it difficult to fit into the Hong Kong workplace because of a combination of cultural differences, language barriers and old-fashioned prejudice.

These are issues the city’s official equality body, the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC), aims to tackle head-on with a new employers’ charter that several major firms will sign on Thursday.

Read full story, entitled How ethnic minority workers are shunned in Hong Kong, and whether a new equality charter for companies will change this, here.