The LGBT Workplace Conference in Manila last week set a new standard for dialogues on the topic of LGBT workplace inclusion in the Philippines. While the Philippines is further along with the acceptance of homosexuality than many other Asian countries, there are still formidable barriers: namely due to family ties and societal pressures to conform, that hold back many LGBT people from being themselves… particularly at work!
Thanks to the tireless and dedicated work of many individuals on the ground, the event saw just under 200 participants take part from a wide variety of organizations in the Philippines. Hosted by Shell at its Business Operations Center in downtown Manila, the conference included high-profile speakers such as Cesar Romero, Country Chairman of Shell Companies in the Philippines and Geraldine Roman, the 1st transgender Congressperson in the Philippine government. Ms. Roman detailed the status of an LGBT anti-discrimination bill currently in front of the congress which promises to eventually make the lives of LGBT people easier all over the country – PLUS provide clarity for employers on this issue.
Apart from a fascinating morning panel session, – which looked at everything from Diversity and Inclusion policies of multinationals in the Philippines, to how Metro Manila Pride is making headway on LGBT inclusion with businesses – the day was packed full of intense, interactive conversations dealing with the LGBT business case, Leveraging Allies, Executive Leadership and (crucial to the Philippine context) Family Ties.
The success of the conference though will not stop with the end of the event! A concerted effort by several LGBT employee networks (Shell – SAP) along with the Philippine LGBT Chamber of Commerce and other parties will keep this conversation going and explore how to make a lasting and structural contribution to LGBT workplace inclusion in the Philippines.
Special thanks go to Shell, SAP and the Dutch Embassy in Manila for helping to make this amazing event happen!