3 ways companies can promote SOGIE equality in the workplace

Sofia Tomacruz
‘Other issues might take precedence over this, but that doesn’t mean we can’t push for it…. All rights are important,’ Cogencia chief executive officer Paulo Edrosolano says

MANILA, Philippines – Workplaces that have policies specifically protecting employees who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered (LGBT) against discrimination are not yet common in the Philippines. 

This was the pattern that emerged in a survey of 100 companies recently conducted by the LGBT Chamber of Commerce and whose results were shared with the media on Wednesday, November 7. 

According to the chamber’s 2018 Philippine Corporate SOGIE Diversity and Index, 6 out of 10 companies lacked employment policies and employee guidelines that protect LGBT workers from discrimination in the workplace.

Of the remainder, only two out of 10 companies said they had such policies. Others said they had no knowledge of such policies, or that these policies were “broadly phrased” and did not include explicitly the phrase SOGIE or sexual orientation and gender identity or expression.

While the sample wasn’t representative of the business landscape in the Philippines, LGBT Chamber of Commerce chair Brian Tenorio said the study aimed to provide a baseline of SOGIE policies in the country. 

The study was done with support from the embassy of Netherlands and research by Cogencia Consulting Incorporated.

“Companies in the Philippines should understand that if you’re more diverse, you’re more innovative, more creative, you have better retention of your employees, and you’re more likely to attract good employees,” Tenorio said. 

Here are some tips from the LGBT Chamber of Commerce on how to make a workplace more inclusive:

1. Rethink employment processes

According to LGBT Chamber of Commerce vice chair Evan Tan, companies can start by assessing whether or not they are an equal opportunity employer.

This means reviewing their policies to see if specific clauses on “sexual orientation” or “gender identity or expression” are included.

Doing so can help promote and attract a more diverse talent pool to apply to their company. 

 

2. Promote SOGIE education in the workplace

This goes for all employees and not just LGBT professionals. A common observation noted by the group was that not many people were familiar with terminology associated with issues on anti-discrimination based on sexuality and gender.

Information should also include the rights of LGBT workers, as results from the study showed majority of workers were unaware of the rights and benefits they were entitled to.

 

3. Check and see how inclusive a company’s policies are

Employees themselves can also take steps to ensure their company is more inclusive and diverse.

One way would be to start by asking employers how open their company was to having LGBT-inclusive policies in the workplace. 

They can also check to see what policies their companies have toward this regard, as the study showed 12% of employees did not know if their companies had these.

Apart from this, employees can also see if their employers are open to creating organizations for LGBT members and its supporters within the company.

“Other issues might take precedence over this, but that doesn’t mean we can’t push for it because everything is linked. All rights are important,” Cogencia chief executive officer Paulo Edrosolano said. – Rappler.com

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs and is the lead reporter on the coronavirus pandemic. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter via @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.