Wednesday, 22 April 2015

[Today] IKEA Singapore’s decision contradicts its global stand and code of conduct

I refer to the report “IKEA to continue magic show arrangement” (April 22). It is IKEA Singapore’s prerogative to do so, but, in my opinion, the move is hypocritical and myopic.
It is hypocritical of IKEA to champion diversity and inclusion on one hand, and partnering with a public figure known for his homophobic views on the other. In 2013, after international criticism that a feature about two women living in England with their child was not published in the Russian edition of its customer magazine IKEA Family Live due Russia’s anti-gay laws, IKEA had released a statement affirming its promotion of “equal rights” and its “diversity and inclusion approach”.
Furthermore, IKEA IWAY Standard, its code of conduct, forbids discrimination based on “sexual orientation or any other basis”. Surely supporting a magic show by a pastor who has been outspoken against homosexuality violates IKEA’s code of conduct.
In explaining its decision, IKEA Singapore said it respects that “all individuals have a right to their opinions and personal choices”. This axiom is a red herring. No doubt, we all have that right. But those calling IKEA out for its tie-up with Mr Khong’s magic show are not questioning individual rights, Rather, they are challenging IKEA on its hypocrisy.
Similarly, the letter “Ideological conformity cannot exist in a truly inclusive society” (April 22) stating that gay rights advocates are inverting true tolerance is distracting from the issue.
Mr Darius Lee wrote that “True tolerance is summed up in the saying: I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”. I agree with him. But those calling IKEA out on its position are not advocating for those who disagree with them to be arrested, jailed or deprived of their rights.
IKEA Singapore’s decision is also myopic, because it has sacrificed decades of goodwill built up globally.
Maybe IKEA Singapore decided that “high family entertainment value” supersedes the values of diversity and inclusion, which IKEA has long championed globally. Whatever the case, IKEA Singapore had the opportunity to honour its global brand promise but unfortunately it has missed the forest for the trees.