On her account’s fifth anniversary gala in 2016, Toni Ros, a coach at Sitel Pioneer, wore a black-and-white mermaid-cut evening gown. With her crystal string earrings and necklace, she looked every bit like the princesses in the storybooks that she loved reading as a kid.
Toni lives for moments like this, when she could wear beautiful gowns. “This might seem too shallow for others but it means a lot to me, to be able to express myself,” said Toni, who is a transgender woman.
Toni’s love for dressing up has its roots in childhood, when she would wear her mother’s stilettoes. “Since I was little, I have known I am different and my parents were well aware of it,” she said. “But despite this, growing up, I always felt the love and support of my family. They accepted me wholeheartedly and were very proud of my achievements. They supported every decision I made, as long as I was happy and it wouldn’t hurt anybody.”
Since the anniversary gala, Toni would get to wear gowns and costumes in many other occasions in Sitel. “I am always thankful to Sitel for allowing me to wear gowns in every awards and recognition ceremonies,” she said.
“Sitel is very welcoming of and respectful to the members of the LGBTQIA+ community,” said Toni. Aside from getting to freely wear clothes that match her gender identity, Toni cited more instances that prove Sitel’s accepting culture, such as: providing LGBTQIA+ associates a platform to share their stories, which for her “creates awareness and educates”; the celebration of Pride Month in June with activities like Pride March; and the inclusion of same-sex partners as dependents in the HMO.
Such culture is also the reason why Toni has stayed in the company for seven years already. “In my seven years here in Sitel, I have never experienced any form of discrimination based on my sexual orientation. I always feel loved, valued, supported and respected,” she said. “I am surrounded by open-minded, passionate, supportive, respectful and caring bosses and workmates. We treat each other like family.”
As there’s always room for improvement, Toni believes that Sitel could still do a lot of things to advance the LGBTQIA+ associates’ welfare. She proposes the crafting of a non-discrimination policy. “This policy should clearly include specifics about prohibited behavior, description of the penalties for violating the policy, and clear procedure an associate can follow to file complaints,” Toni said.
Although Toni’s experiences as a transgender woman in Sitel have been positive, she admitted that other members of the LGTBQIA+ community outside Sitel do not enjoy the same equitable treatment. She points out that many LGBTQIA+ Filipinos suffer from bullying — physical, verbal, and virtual. Sometimes, the institutions that are supposed to protect LGTBQIA+ people are the ones who perpetuate oppression.
“At the school level, administrators should strengthen anti-bullying and anti-discrimination policies to ensure that LGBTQIA+ youth are safe and respected,” Toni said.
Then, for the larger Philippine society, Toni has this to say: “Let us all educate ourselves. Respect and accept individual differences! Stop the hate and spread love!”
About Sitel Group®
As a leading global provider of customer experience (CX) products and solutions, Sitel Group® empowers brands to build stronger relationships with their customers by creating meaningful connections that boost brand value. Inspired by each brands’ unique vision and goals, we ask “what if?” applying our expertise to create innovative solutions that reduce customer effort.
With 100,000 people around the globe – working from home or from one of our CX hubs – we securely connect best-loved brands with their customers over 4.5 million times every day in 50+ languages. Whether digital or voice-based, our solutions deliver a competitive edge across all customer touchpoints. Our award-winning culture is built on 35+ years of industry-leading experience and commitment to improving the employee experience.
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