As soon as the virus expanded over the world, digital use and globalization became increasingly apparent. The truth is that the health crisis has intensified the push for technology adoption, resulting in a rise in mobile technology use and corporate innovation. As we sail on the new normal, business organizations in the Philippines have followed suit and implemented new technology to stay afloat.
People in charge of corporations and organizations try to stay up with the pandemic’s constant advances, but there appears to be a lack of inclusivity in the workplace. Although business leaders, management executives, and employees are learning to integrate technologies as part of the new normal of work, LGBT+ community members believe that more has to be done in terms of understanding inclusive environments.
This prompted The Philippine Financial & Inter-Industry Pride (PFIP) to undertake the country’s first-ever workplace inclusion survey, bringing this message to the forefront of corporate organizations’ contributions to the nation’s development.
The 2021 Philippines LGBT+ Workplace Inclusion Survey covers 6 key facets of inclusivity in companies conducted by PFIP. In this survey, majority of the respondents have anti-discrimination policies based on both sexual orientation and gender identity & expression. Most have also publicly expressed their support for LGBT+ inclusion.
PFIP is a leading LGBT+ organization and is a collaborative, voluntary and non-profit community of practice for equal opportunity employers and inclusive business organizations in the Philippines. The PFIP started with five companies from the banking and financial industry in October 2013 and now has over 50 members from across multiple industries. PFIP has been around for eight years and the 2021 LGBT+ Workplace Inclusion Survey is their first public offering.
The release of the survey is crucial to inclusion work because the country does not have an anti-discrimination law in place, the Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity or Expression (SOGIE) Equality Bill is yet to be passed in the Congress.
The SOGIE Equality Bill is meant to fulfill the rights set forth in the 1987 constitution, which was first filed in the 11th Congress by the late Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago and Akbayan Rep. Etta Rosales. The equal protection clause, in particular, recognizes the LGBTQ+ as equals and ensures that their rights are protected since everyone is. The bill also acknowledges the Philippines duties under international law particularly the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. It thus recognizes the non-discrimination of the LGBTQ+ as both a national and international duty.
“It’s important for us to understand the environment on where we stand, in terms of LGBT+ inclusivity in the Philippines. This is where PFIP comes in. PFIP survey is mainly concentrated on private organizations. We are not involved in introducing or making laws but where we can make a big impact is among the private organizations. Many private organizations have taken it upon themselves to introduce what we called Inclusive Policies and Practices to benefit their LGBT+ employees. And that is the focus of this survey. We wanted to highlight these practices and services that are already available,” said Chris Eugenio, Board of Trustee, PFIP.
“We feel that it is important to share this information because many companies still don’t have these policies in place. It’s incumbent upon us to put together these practices and share it with other companies so that they may follow suit.”
PFIP is leading the campaign to see what they can do given the parameters and restrictions so companies can act and provide their LGBT+ employees in terms of policies, benefits, and support for them to succeed in the workplace, especially during these challenging times.
PFIP aims to promote LGBT+ rights and recommend these inclusive practices in the workplace which include the right to a chosen name and preferred pronouns to affirm one’s gender identity, the right to dress according to one’s gender expression, and the right to access inclusive facilities and amenities including restrooms.
The survey was participated in by 100 companies where 86% of the respondent have anti-discrimination policies for both sexual orientation and gender identity & expression, while 88% said their procedures in place allows LGBT+ employees to raise concerns if they experience discrimination in the workplace. The respondents came from PFIP members and non-members; multi-national companies; and big conglomerates comprising the top employers in the Philippines.
More than half of the respondents offer inclusive benefits to same sex domestic partners. 75% of the respondents say that they offer equivalent benefits for married different-sex couples and same-sex domestic partners in terms of medical benefits.
According to Chris, traditionally, there has not been solid data to capture the level of inclusivity in the Philippine workplaces and therefore PFIP’s LGBT+ Workplace Inclusion Survey is significant in the present situation. Chris also pointed out that not just because a company or organization has LGBT+ employees doesn’t make them an inclusive organization.
In the survey, at least almost two-thirds of the respondents have a variety of leaders who enable D&I policies in the workplace. Over a half have LGBT+ networks for employees. At least 64% of the respondents have leaders that have come out as members of the LGBT+ community or as allies, serving as role models to employees. They drive inclusion and are accountable to D&I targets.
“This survey helps us to identify how far have we become in terms of driving inclusive practices in private organizations. We’re very specific and we’re not talking about the entire Philippine workforce. We’re talking about what we’ve done so far,” added Chris.
Accordingly, there is currently no data collected due to a lack of legislation and policies that truly oblige corporations to supply inclusion, and there is no obligation from any government organizations to collect data.
“We know that there are already companies who are doing great things in this area so let’s ask them and let’s record so we can present the full picture in terms of what are available and possible actions we can do,” Chris said.
“We really wanted to cater not only to a wider business community but specifically to locally owned Filipino companies. This survey is for companies that have not yet started or are still thinking of starting of their own D&I program in their respective organizations,” Chris explained.
The survey targets companies who do not, at this time, consider inclusion as a priority. The survey results will really help them a lot and will help participants in terms of self-assessments and provide a way to measure themselves in terms of their own individual targets. The results will be collated and shared for others to learn from it. “The survey becomes an incredibly important benchmarking or base-lining tool. We want this to be out in the public, we want people to Google it and make it a point of reference for future discussions and studies.”
Most respondents offer general and leadership trainings on D&I topics. Leadership programs for allyship and career advancement for LGBT+ employees and leaders are areas for potential expansion of training themes.
“This is our way in telling the Filipino communities and organizations how important inclusion is. It’s also a way for them to understand the future of work. It’s now about the company’s culture, how individuals are allowed to be their authentic selves in the workplace express themselves. This translates to showing the business values of being inclusive. And that’s what the survey is all about,” said Weena Ekid, Chairperson, PFIP.
Weena oversees one of the nation’s most respected and active LGBT+ organizations. PFIP began as a non-profit volunteer community project and has become a large association devoted to nurturing a safe and inclusive environment for LGBT+ people.
“The survey is a good gauge for all multi-national companies who have diversity, equity and inclusion programs already built-in. It’s also a good reference for local companies who don’t have it but are starting to see that there is indeed value in taking care of your workforce and in being an inclusive company. We should be able to express freely and speak the language of SOGIE,” Weena added.
Together with the LGBT+ employee resource groups and human resource/diversity teams of its member organizations, the PFIP has been pioneering LGBT+ focused diversity & inclusion programs in the Philippines.
Follow PFIP on facebook.com/PFIP.Pride to know more and how your organizations can participate to their campaigns.