Some may say LGBT workplace discrimination isn’t real; but 30-year old transwoman Grace (not her real name) begs to differ. While she now runs her own beauty business, she had to face prejudice and bigotry as a transwoman professional before she decided to become an entrepreneur.
One morning, the sales director in a previous company based in Metro Manila called her for a meeting. She was one week in the job and had her hopes up. Little did she know that she was about to have a taste of transphobia that fateful day.
“He told me that I should dress appropriately,” Grace said, recalling how her superior – a cisgender heterosexual man – singled her out for wearing casual female clothing in the office. This, despite the fact that other women in the office were freely wearing the same kind of clothing she was called out for.
That wasn’t the only time she experienced that kind of discrimination.
In 2010, she recalled applying for a company where the hiring executive strongly suggested changing her gender expression would make her a more suitable candidate for the position.
“I asked for a feedback kasi, if open for diversity,” she said. “Then the interviewer said that it could help if I had ‘clean’, short hair. I had long hair since college.”
She was forced to have her hair cut–despite the fact that her hair length wasn’t really a part of the job description. While this opened doors for her, she decided that she no longer wanted to pretend.
“In the last company I worked in, I finally asked if I can grow my hair back. I didn’t get any response. That’s when I decided I was going to start on my own.”
In the absence of a law that protects LGBT people in the workplace, professionals like Grace will continue to face discrimination–hindering them from contributing to their fullest potential.
In fact, Filipino companies have failed dismally in the country’s first Philippine Corporate SOGIE (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity & Expression) Diversity and Inclusiveness Index, a study done by the Philippine LGBT Chamber of Commerce, an organization which champions the LGBT contribution in Philippine business.
The study aims to establish a quantitative baseline SOGIE Corporate Diversity and Inclusiveness Index across the top corporations as well as other small and medium enterprises in the Philippines.
Undertaken by research firm Cogencia with the support of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in the Philippines, the study surveyed 100 companies which cumulatively employ 267,231 people.
These companies are classified according to these broad categories: Philippine-based (those that operate mainly or are headquartered in the Philippines), Foreign-headquartered, BPO/BPS (Business Process Outsourcing/Services), and Government.
Only 17% of companies interviewed have policies in place against discrimination based on SOGIE. All are from BPO/BPS and Foreign-headquartered organizations.
Meanwhile, companies which do not have LGBT-inclusive policies and benefits also did not express interest in creating said company policies and benefits in the next 5 years.
“The results of this study are a wake-up call to all of us, not just businesses or professionals, but also our senators who are impeding the passage of the Senate Bill No. 1271, or the Anti-Discrimination Bill,” says Brian Tenorio, chair of the Philippine LGBT Chamber of Commerce. “Our fellow LGBT professionals must be guaranteed their protection in the workplace, so they can positively contribute to their respective companies, without fear of prejudice or discrimination.”
Adds H.E. Marion Derckx, Ambassador of the Netherlands Embassy in the Philippines: “Keeping the benefits of diversity requires awareness and action from all sides – from employers, from employees and also from government. Diversity is about inclusion.”
To push for stronger action which will challenge Philippine businesses and fellow LGBT organizations to ensure LGBT diversity and inclusion in the workplace, the Philippine LGBT Chamber of Commerce is launching a campaign, #ZEROto100PH.
The campaign aims to get 100 Philippine companies in 2019 to pledge their commitment towards LGBT diversity and inclusion, starting with SOGIE training in their workplace and revising their company policies to protect LGBT professionals.
Full copy of the report, visit www.lgbtph.org/csdi.