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Introducing and enforcing inclusivity in the workplace

Roles were questioned, insights shared, and societal norms challenged in the latest Breakfast Round Table! Held under the theme of “Equality Inside Out”, host Bea Lim welcomed panelists to the session where marketers were invited to have their questions answered directly by top industry specialists. For “Equality Inside Out”, the panel was comprised of DDB Philippines Group Chief Culture Officer Anna Chua-Norbert, Investing in Women Deputy Director for Gender Norms Kim Patria, and Google Philippines’ Program Manager and Transgender ERG Lead Melai Lopez.

Responding to a question on what more could be done for the cause of gender equality, given the number of female leaders in the Philippine industry, Patria said that the first step was to properly define the meaning of said equality, namely, as the ability of people of all genders to access, enjoy, and thrive at all levels within a company.

“There’s varying reports on female representation across different levels of leadership, so that’s what’s really important – looking at the whole organization,” said Patria. “Sometimes, we’re so focused on opportunities, but we also need to highlight equality in results. It’s one thing to say that anyone in an organization can access opportunities, but are people actually accessing them, and are they benefiting from being able to access them?”

Chua-Norbert concurred, citing that equality should extend to all areas, including compensation, saying, “If your [equality policies] don’t actually benefit the bottom line of the person, what the heck are we doing here?, when we already know that women contribute more to society, because the people around them benefit more from their being present.”

A challenge in establishing gender equality, said Lopez, was the misconception that such policies would be expensive for the companies in question. “That’s not necessarily true, and there are a lot of efforts that companies can put together to demonstrate their commitment to diversity and inclusion.” Even something as fundamental as instituting policies of forbidding retaliation against reporters of sexual harassment would go a long way, without affecting the company’s expenses. “It’s not expensive, and a lot of companies can do these things, they just need to commit to it.”

Lopez shared an example of equality as an ongoing process, citing how, at her Google orientation in Singapore, all the new faces were asked, not just their names, but their preferred pronouns, as part of the company's way of making sure everybody felt comfortable in their new workplace. She also shared about how, following an incident in a Philippine mall where a transgender woman had been forbidden from entering the ladies’ restroom, Google approached her on how to avoid such incidents from happening on their premises.

The importance of leadership’s commitment to a good equality program could not be understated: According to Patria, it was important for the company to articulate it in terms of a strategy and then operationalize it into actual policies and programs. “Are you checking in with your employees on their perceptions of gender equality and diversity in the workplace? Are you setting targets? Most importantly, are you growing as an organization? If you have all of that, the communications of it, the transparency of it, will come easily. Accountability will be easy for the company to its stakeholders and the public they serve when they communicate their commitment.”

When it came to identifying inclusive companies, Chua-Norbert said it was important to look at a company’s composition to gauge which areas of inclusion they could improve upon to achieve balance. “Great ideas come from everywhere, so don’t limit yourselves to one kind of people – imagine how boring our ads would become, haha!”

The IMMAP Breakfast Roundtable is an exclusive privilege open to members only. Click here for more information on IMMAP and how to be a member.

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