Representatives from different government agencies gathered at the 3rd floor Ateneo Community Center yesterday, April 12, for an awareness-raising and capacity-building session on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression (SOGIE) Inclusive Workplace Practices and Policies.
With the theme, “Non-Discrimination in the Employment Sector Promoting Inclusive Workplaces in the Philippines,” the whole day training-workshop tackled the issues faced by lesbians, gays, transgenders, and bisexual employees in their respective workplaces, specifically in government offices.
In the workshop, Atty. Romeo Cabarde Jr., with his topic “Looking at the Rainbow through the Human Rights Lens,” discussed Philippine gender-related laws while Atty. Kristine Jazz Tamayo talked about the current practices of government institutions on promoting workplace equality.
Participants from different government agencies such as the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Commission on Higher Education (CHED), and the like also presented issues that LGBTs face in their workplaces such as discriminations from co-employers, issues regarding the wearing of uniforms, issues about hiring for the office staff, and other concerns most of them have observed in their respective offices. Further, they also presented the processes undertaken by their offices to address their concerns and suggested actions that could be taken to resolve the said issues.
Atty. Tamayo, one of the resource speakers, discussed the stages on how to achieve a SOGIE-inclusive workplace.
“Create an avenue of inclusion to understand that mismong diversity in the office can greatly help productivity. If you encourage everyone in your office whether gay, straight, or not, or whatever, to be themselves, it’s directly proportional to the success of your company because you will get innovative ideas, they will be freed from all the things that burden them and hamper them,” Atty. Tamayo said during an interview.
She also added that it is important to see how SOGIE-inclusive the offices’ policies are, and if they consider LGBTs in their activities and promotions.
Atty. Cabarde mentioned that there are still practices and policies that are discriminatory to some people “on account of their sexual orientation and gender identities”.
When asked if these practices are present in Ateneo de Davao University, Atty. Cabarde answered, “I would say na if we compare Ateneo to other universities and colleges, we are fairly more liberal than them because here, we don’t put restrictions and limitations to students and faculties with different sexual orientations and gender identity. They can even cross-dress. Based on vision and mission, we are here to promote gender equality.”
However, he added that there are still policies that can sometimes be anti-LGBT, as what is being raised by the LGBT community in the university, such as the dress-code and the use of toilets.
He hoped that one day, the University will come up with an anti-discriminatory policy from hiring of employees, admission of students, and to all forms of systems and mechanisms.
The first day of the said training-workshop was intended for the government agencies while the second day is intended for the claim holders.
The training-workshop was organized by the Rainbow Rights Philippines, Inc. in partnership with the Ateneo Public Interest and Legal Advocacy Center.