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Pushing for a culture of equality… beyond Pride month

The question of what private companies that surface during Pride month do beyond the month of June is valid, and should be asked. Enter Accenture, one of the most… conspicuous private companies during Pride in the Philippines.

Screencap from the FB account of Accenture in the Philippines

June may mark the Western-influenced observance of LGBTQIA Pride; but with it comes the still often Western-driven commercialization of the same. This is the time when numerous companies use the rainbow to highlight their supposed support for the LGBTQIA community, though really only as a marketing strategy.

The question of what these private companies that surface during Pride month do beyond the month of June is, therefore, valid, and should be asked.

Enter Accenture, one of the most… conspicuous private companies during Pride in the Philippines.

According to Marixi Carlos, inclusion and diversity lead of Accenture in the Philippines: “Accenture believes that the real power in diversity lies dormant without creating an environment where people feel integrated, feel that they belong, and feel open to expressing their ideas and uniqueness – where inclusion is a reality. When employees feel a sense of belonging and identification with the organization, they are naturally motivated to help it succeed.” This is why for Accenture, “creating a truly human environment in which everyone feels they belong, their uniqueness is valued and they can be their best professionally and personally, is at the heart of (the company’s) values and broader talent ambition.”

The company was recognized as “a corporate leader that supports all our employees; that our efforts to become the most inclusive and diverse employer have been recognized via the EDGE Move Certification that we received in 2018. Accenture was the first company in the Philippines to receive said certification from the Economic Dividends for Gender Equality (EDGE), a leading global assessment methodology and business certification standard for gender equality in recognition of our commitment to foster gender equality in the workplace.”

For Carlos, “Accenture is and has always been a people-focused company. Our success for the past 35 years of operations in the Philippines is primarily because of the hard work and dedication of all our employees through the years. That is why Accenture has been implementing programs that prioritize our employees’ welfare and well-being all year round. That will always be our priority as a company, especially as a leader in the IT-BPM industry.”

CHANGING THE CULTURE

According to Carlos, the company has various efforts that eye to “accelerate a culture of equality”.

Firstly, “we are committed in fostering an inclusive environment for all sexual orientations and gender identities,” she said. So globally, “we work to ensure that our policies and practices foster equality in all the geographies that Accenture operates in.”

The company is trying to provide “same employee benefits to same-sex and opposite-sex partners in all countries where law permits”.

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This is somewhat tricky, of course, since in the Philippines, for example, marriage equality is not legal, and those in same-sex relationships are not legally allowed to name their partners as beneficiaries (e.g. in SSS).

But Carlos said that in the Philippines, the company’s “initiatives to support this commitment” includes:

In December 2018, introduction of the expanded parental-leave benefits package. This included an “Inclusion & Diversity Leave,” which allows employees with a declared life partner to take 30 consecutive days of leave for a live birth or legal adoption of a child below seven years old. “Secondary Caregiver Leave” benefit may also be availed by the spouse, life partner or relative up to the 4th degree of consanguinity, who also works for Accenture.

The company also has a “Gender-Neutral Dress Code Policy, which allows employees to dress according to their gender expression.”

Secondly, as part of Accenture’s specialized trainings, there is the LGBTI Leaders Learning (L3), “an intensive regional training that provides high-potential executives the information, tools and support to continue to build their careers and develop into role models and managers,” Carlos said, adding that “we also have a mentoring program that enables LGBTI employees and others who have an interest to connect with experienced colleagues and promote knowledge-sharing between mentors and mentees. Mentoring provides access to coaching, information and leadership for additional perspectives and holistic development.”

Related to this, “we have regular SOGIE and inclusion awareness trainings scheduled for all our employees.”

Thirdly, “we are committed in fostering the spirit of community through our FLAG (Friends, Lesbians and Gays) and allies community in the Philippines. This community of employees, supported by Accenture leadership, is in charge of driving activities within and outside the company.”

Carlos said that the company has “over 25% of our population declared as allies of LGBTI.” And “to keep our communities engaged, we organize talks, seminars, networking functions, outreach programs, awareness campaigns, and peer support initiatives, all-year round, to further inclusion in the workplace.”

CONTINUITY RE INCLUSIVITY

Asked about Accenture position – and even plans – to help the LGBTQIA community re: pushing for anti-discrimination bill/law in the Philippines, pushing for marriage equality; and pushing for gender recognition law in the country, Carlos said that “Accenture is not able to comment on pending legislation. What we can do, for our part, is to continue fostering inclusivity, embracing diversity and promoting equality in the workplace. Hopefully, our efforts will inspire others to do the same.”

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Carlos added: “To influence LGBTI inclusion in a country where Accenture operates, it finds opportunities to interact with industry associations where it can participate, share thought leadership, and allow employees to broaden their network.”

Accenture is a member of the Philippine Financial Inter-Industry Pride (PFIP).

For the past few years, Accenture has been releasing its Getting To Equal (GTE) research, which highlights the role of a culture of equality in driving innovation in the workplace.

And “according to our latest GTE research, a culture of equality – a workplace environment where everyone can advance and thrive – is a powerful multiplier of innovation and growth. If businesses are able to create a work environment that encourages innovation and allows people to perform at their very best, employees will ultimately feel that they have an equal opportunity to contribute and build a successful career within that company,” Carlos said.

This is why for her, “creating this culture of equality… must start from the top – with C-suite executives and the Board exercising bold leadership and prioritizing comprehensive programs that will allow inclusion and diversity strategies to evolve and expand in support of employees’ needs. The (GTE) study found that LGBT employees’ innovation mindset — their willingness and ability to innovate — is seven times higher in the most-equal cultures than in the least equal ones. And when diversity factors are combined with a culture-of-equality, LGBT employees’ innovation mindset goes up to 20 times higher. This is what Accenture strives to accomplish as part of our goal to become the most inclusive and diverse employer in the IT-BPM industry in the Philippines.”

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