In Episode 2 of our Future of Work, Now podcast series, Leow Yangfa was asked why he went into social work and his reply was an enthusiastic, “Why not?”. 

Leow is the Executive Director of Oogachaga and an LGBTQ+ activist in Singapore. For him, social work is not just about social welfare, but about social justice. He reflected on this distinction in conversation with the host of our podcast, Asha Popatlal.

“It used to be that people just did [social work] out of the goodness of their hearts, but over the years—and certainly in developed countries—it has evolved into something that’s about social justice. It’s about access to services and access to rights and doing what we need to do and should do for the community and country,” said Leow. 

This type of support for the community is central to Oogachaga’s mission. The non-profit is Singapore's first and most recognised agency providing community-based counselling and support for LGBTQ+ individuals. It also partners with corporates to advocate for inclusion in the workplace. 

Here is a snapshot of what we learned from Leow about the agency’s work and about how individuals and companies can become better allies.


True inclusion requires change in attitudes and policy

Oogachaga works with companies big and small to facilitate discussion on LGBTQ+ diversity and implement more inclusive practices. One piece of advice they provide is universal: “What’s important as an employer is that you create a safe environment for employees where they are able to be productive and efficient. Should they choose to come out, they’re supported and protected from discrimination.”

Diversity-related events and education can contribute to building this environment. However, Leow stresses the need for workplace policies that protect individuals from bullying, harassment, and unfair treatment.

“If a company doesn’t have any specific policies on anti-discrimination, [the employee] is already working in an environment that is not safe,” said Leow. 

When asked what more Leow would want straight people to understand about the issues facing the LGBTQ+ community, he responded that he didn’t expect everyone to know everything.  For those interested in learning more, he suggested reading up on the issues before engaging in conversation. 

Oogachaga’s website is a great source of media and information for the Singapore community. You can also visit Trailhead for dedicated learning on how to Cultivate Equality at Work.

Ultimately, inclusion in the workplace should go beyond tolerance and focus on making sure employees feel valued and celebrated.

I don’t want to walk into a room or event just to be tolerated. I want to be affirmed and I think we all deserve that, whoever we are.”

Leow Yangfa | Executive Director of Oogachaga and LGBTQ+ activist


COVID-19 and overcoming the next big crisis

Towards the end of the podcast, Asha asked Leow about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the LGBTQ+ community in Singapore. Leow shared that the circuit breaker (Singapore’s version of lockdown) was particularly difficult for those who felt they had to hide their identities. Oogachaga experienced an uptick in demand for online counselling services. 

The silver lining is that he also believed society had become kinder. He pointed to the fact that many in society had come to realise how different groups of people were impacted by the crisis. Not everyone had the luxury of staying home and watching Netflix. 

“I hope this kindness will continue. I sometimes worry that when the COVID-19 pandemic is over that the next thing coming is a mental health crisis. Kindness will go a long way in helping” said Leow. 


Listen to the entire conversation with Leow Yangfa on demand at our podcasts page, Spotify, and iTunes. You can also listen over at the Singapore Community Radio Twitch page, Facebook page, and website

Tune into our next episode featuring Nadya Hutagalung, UN Environment Goodwill Ambassador and Founder of We The Good. This episode will be out at 1:00 p.m. SGT Friday, November 27.

Sign up here for our Salesforce Asia Blog newsletter to get monthly updates on the podcast series and the latest Salesforce stories.