Anyone can be LGBTQIA+

Published June 25, 2021, 6:00 PM

by Jules Vivas

Other than Asexual, A in the acronym stands for Ally, and that you should be, whether at home, in the community, or in the workplace

PRIDE PARADE TIP employees who are member of the LGBTQIA+ community joins the pride March pre-pandemic

You’ve may have heard or read of the term LGBTQIA+ or Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and or Questioning, Intersex, Asexual, and Ally. It is the extended initialism of what once was simply LGBT. Now, we have queer, the umbrella term for someone who is not straight but rejects labels. Questioning, as the word itself suggests, is a person unsure of his or her identity. Asexual, meanwhile, is someone who does not feel sexual attraction toward another. And there’s the ally, a person fights alongside LGBT people for rights or welfare or equality. Anyone who challenges homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia, who speaks up for the LGBT people, and advocates for their equal rights and treatment, regardless of sexual or gender orientation, can be called an ally.

Telus International Philippines (TIP) had recently conducted an intimate digital event for media practitioners, where the telecommunications company presented its advocacy for gender sensitivity in the workplace and for the key steps in becoming an ally of the LGBTQIA+ community. TIP has always espoused a people-first culture, encouraging diversity, inclusiveness, and belongingness within its organization.

Devoted to creating a more caring workplace is Spectrum Philippines, TIP’s resource group for the LGBTQIA+ community. This resource group educates TIP employees on the importance of a respectful work environment, one that endorses inclusivity so that co-members can embrace their true selves, and be appreciated for what they bring to the company as professionals no matter their gender, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, or nationality.

INCLUSIVITY AT ITS BEST TIP office at Makati EDSA is one of the branches which lit up their building with the LGBT rainbow colors

“We focus on the needs of our team members and work toward building an inclusive, accepting, and caring culture for them. Spectrum Philippines has been a driving force within our company as we empower our team members to choose their own paths, both professionally and personally. Diversity is a strength we continuously nurture,” says Warren Trait, TIP vice president of brand, marketing, and culture and also Spectrum’s executive sponsor. “By enabling our team members to come to work as their whole selves, we create a workplace that better facilitates a wider exchange of ideas, promotes better talent retention, and inspires creativity and innovation” He further explains that employees’ feedback helps make the workplace a friendlier and more inclusive space.

‘For those who want to be allies to their LGBTQI+ loved ones, we encourage them to become better listeners, be open-minded and willing to talk, stay informed and provide day-to-day encouragement for their friends.’

This year, TIP and Spectrum are hosting learning sessions titled “SOGIE 101, Gender Sensitivity, and How to Become an Ally. The webinars aim to educate employees to foster inclusion across the company and encourage respect for the differences in perspective, opinion, and background within the teams.

SHARE LOVE Jan Lee Dungca discusses the importance of SOGIE at one of the many events organized for TIP employees

“Gender plays a huge role in the workplace. It is one thing to be gender-sensitive but another thing to be gender-responsive. Throughout human history, there has been a struggle not only for women but also for the members of the LGBTQIA+ community when it comes to equal opportunities in the workplace,” says Jan Lee Dungca, TIP guest speaker and active member of the LoveYourself Foundation.  The LGBTQIA+ advocate firmly believes that taking the first step to understanding Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, and Expression (SOGIE) will allow people to comprehend the wide array of preferences, behaviors, and gender identities at the office. “For those who want to be allies to their LGBTQI+ loved ones, we encourage them to become better listeners, be open-minded and willing to talk, stay informed and provide day-to-day encouragement for their friends.”

Over half of Spectrum Philippines’ members identify as straight or cisgender allies. The group has been organizing activities and programs pivotal to TIP. Among their feats is being able to encourage the company to introduce more inclusive benefits, such as extending HMO coverage to dependents, domestic partners, and same-sex partners of team members. All TIP offices have gender-neutral, self-identified male, and self-identified female restrooms.

Spectrum Philippines and TIP have an ongoing fundraising activity for the benefit of the LoveYourself Foundation. Proceeds go to LoveYourself Foundation’s education efforts on HIV/AIDS for the LGBTQIA+ community and the Filipino youth.