Partner benefits, neutral restrooms seen as key to inclusive workplace

TELUS International Philippines (TIP) said it is exploring inclusive-workplace initiatives like health benefits for employees’ same-sex partners, domestic partners and dependents, and has implemented restrooms better suited to employees’ gender preferences.

TIP Vice-President of Brand, Marketing and Culture Warren Tait, who sponsored diversity consultant Spectrum Philippines in conducting gender-sensitivity training within the company, said “Diversity is a strength we continuously nurture. By enabling our team members to come to work and be their whole selves, we create a workplace that better facilitates a wider exchange of ideas, promotes better talent retention, and inspires creativity and innovation.”

TIP and Spectrum conducted online sessions within the company on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Expression (SOGIE) in celebration of Pride Month, the company said in a statement.

“Gender plays a huge role in the workplace. It is one thing to be gender sensitive but another thing to be gender responsive. Throughout human history, there has been a struggle not only for women but also for the members of the LGBTQIA+ community when it comes to equal opportunities in the workplace,” according to managing director of public relations firm Castro Communications Janlee Dungca, a guest speaker at the sessions and a member of the LoveYourself Foundation.

“It all starts with empathy and the willingness to listen, because there’s so many arguments that we can use when we talk to people, especially when we want to win people over,” she said. “If there is a genuine desire to [really be] an ally, then that’s where it starts empathic listening, and really being interested in knowing our stories, our struggles, and having informed opinions about the things that we experience.”

To make workplaces safer for LGBTQIA+ employees, Ms. Dungca suggests that creating gender neutral restrooms, conducting gender sensitivity sessions in the company, and implementing gender diverse and inclusive policies.

TIP said Spectrum has encouraged the company to introduce benefits that are more inclusive, such as extending HMO coverage to dependents, domestic partners and same-sex partners of team members. Sharing their insights with the human resources and leadership teams has led to changes, such as the introduction of gender neutral, self-identified male, and self-identified female restrooms at all of TIP’s sites.

TIP and Spectrum have an ongoing fundraising effort for the benefit of the LoveYourself Foundation and its education efforts about HIV/AIDS for the LGBTQI+ community and the Filipino youth. — Michelle Anne P. Soliman

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