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Sitel’s safe and fun workplace for the LGBTQ+ community paves the way for a truly diverse and inclusive Philippine society.

BY MARKETING AND COMMUNICATIONS TEAM
June 23, 2020

You can’t escape these names: Mimiyuuh, Miss Everything, Lloyd Cadena, and Macoy Dubs. They are the top vloggers in the country today, and with their comedic antics, they make the pandemic a little bearable. What a dreary world it would be without the gays.

More than giving us the laughs, these personalities also help a lot in making the Philippines a better place for the LGBTQ+ community. Their mere presence on our social media newsfeeds make gay people more visible, and hopefully, more accepted.

Seeing these gay vloggers’ wild popularity, it’s hard to imagine that this is also the same country that was in an uproar just a year ago about the passage of the Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, and Expression (SOGIE) Equality Bill. An anti-discrimination bill, the SOGIE Equality Bill sought to protect the LGBTQ+ community against discrimination in contexts such as the use of public facilities and job applications. Unfortunately, it remains a bill up to this day.

CONTRADICTIONS

Like many things about the Philippines, the plight of the Filipino LGBTQ+ community is fraught with contradictions. On one hand, the Philippines has always enjoyed a reputation of being welcoming of gay people. A 2013 Pew Research Center study shows that the Philippines was one of the top 10 countries out of 39 countries surveyed in terms of being gay-friendly.

On the other hand, discrimination remains rampant, especially in the workplace. This is proven by the results of a 2018 study by the International Labor Organization and the United Nations Development Programme on discrimination based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression and Sex Characteristics (SOGIESC).

In the Philippines, the study shows, 60% of respondents say that they have seen a job advertisement that explicitly excludes their SOGIESC in the job requirement. Two in ten respondents in the Philippines also believe that they have been denied job opportunities because of their SOGIESC. Thirty percent of Filipino respondents report having experienced harassment, bullying, and discrimination in their workplaces.

The lack of clear non-discrimination policies in most Philippine companies also doesn’t help. In another 2018 study, the Philippine Corporate SOGIE (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity & Expression) Diversity and Inclusiveness Index, results show that only 17 of the 100 Philippine companies surveyed have non-discrimination policies. Worse, those companies who don’t have non-discrimination policies aren’t even interested in having one in the next five years, the researchers report.


SOURCE: LGBTI People and Employment: Discrimination based on Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression and Sex Characteristics in China, Philippines and Thailand


BPOS LEADING THE CHARGE

It is interesting to note that those 17 companies with non-discrimination policies are either foreign-headquartered or business process outsourcing companies. Indeed, BPO companies are trailblazers when it comes to promoting safe workplaces for members of the LGBTQ+ community.

In Sitel, we allow employees to include their same-sex partners in the HMO benefits coverage. We are particularly proud of this because only a few companies in the country provide such benefits to employees.

Our relaxed dress code is also among the things that our LGBTQ+ kabarkadas appreciate. We believe in freedom of expression- that there is no point in imposing strict gender-based dress codes in a time when the top make-up artist in the world today is male.

Not only do we make our LGBTQ+ kabarkadas and their partners and families feel secure, but we also make it point that they are having fun. In recent years, we’ve staged engagement activities that showcase our LGBTQ+ associates’ talent, such as the Sitel Queen, a beauty pageant among our transgender kabarkadas. In 2019, more than 300 kabarkadas joined the Metro Manila Pride March in Marikina City, one of the biggest delegations that day.

Sitel Pride Barkada during the Pride March last June 2019 at Marikina Sports Complex

Had this year’s Pride March not canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we would have sent a bigger delegation. But just because there is a pandemic doesn’t mean we would forego celebrating Pride Month. This year, we have a full line-up of activities for the month to celebrate Pride – such as online webinars dedicated to engage LGBTQ+ and allies across the Sitel Barkada, stories highlighting inspiring and success stories, Digital Pride March, drag competition and so much more.

At Sitel, we always strive to make an impact, be in on our customer’s lives, or on the communities where our sites are located. We are hoping that our diverse and inclusive culture ripples through our Philippine society as well. We are looking forward to the day that the LGBTQ+ community isn’t only tolerated but celebrated, both online and in real life.

 

Sources:

https://www.asia-pacific.undp.org/content/rbap/en/home/library/democratic_governance/hiv_aids/lgbti-people-and-employment–discrimination-based-on-sexual-orie.html

http://www.lgbtph.org/csdi/

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