Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed. Proverbs 31:8 (NLT)
I was invited to join a pride month breakfast meeting organized by The American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, Inc. and Santos Knight Frank, along with other industry leaders to talk about Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) in the workplace.
DEI is essentially about having a variety of people (diversity), ensuring fair access to opportunities for all of them (equity), and creating an inclusive culture for everyone.
To advance DEI programs, I believe we need to go back to the basics and integrate human rights in business. This means incorporating human rights principles in organizational interventions such as leadership development, culture change, process alignment, and policy formulation.
In the Philippines, human rights is often seen as a political or activist issue. Some people even take up arms for it, and this makes some civil and advocate groups hesitant to be associated with the human rights movement.
But human rights in human resources and human rights in business is about the socio-economic and cultural rights of employees. These rights are about eliminating discrimination, respecting employees’ dignity and safety, and ensuring their participation in economic development, social security and employment protection.
An effective DEI program should start with laying the foundation of socio-economic-cultural human rights in organizational interventions. This will shape the core values, mindset, culture, and processes of the organization. These rights will directly impact the “inclusion” aspects of DEI, as they will foster fair allocation of resources, leadership accountability, elimination of both environmental and behavioral microaggressions, and a culture of belonging.
Without first strengthening the structural framework of “inclusion” embracing “diversity” will be difficult because there is no equity and a culture of acceptance.
People from marginalized groups such as LGBTIQA+, women, single parents, PWDs, senior citizens, graduates of less-known universities, academically challenged workers, or those from other regions and religions will have a better chance to thrive in organizations if DEI has the right foundations.
Much thanks to the following industry leaders for the insightful discussion: Rick Santos (Chairman & CEO, Santos Knight Frank), Ebb Hinchliffe (Executive Director, AmCham PH), Jai Leonard Carinan (Executive Director, PFIP – Philippine Financial & Inter-Industry Pride), Ruel Ramirez (Learning, OD, and DEI Leader at Shell), Ronn Astillas (Chair, The Philippine LGBT Chamber of Commerce), Angela Lagman (HR Director, Emerson Manila), Niña Terol (Founder & CEO, Imaginable Impact), Ken Lerona (Home Credit Philippines), Ivanna Aguiling-Dela Torre (Director & Country Representative PH, Asia Group Advisors), Rosario Cajucom-Bradbury (Contact Center Association of the Philippines), Heather Ramos (Chief Operating Officer, Capital One), and Christopher Ilagan (Corporate Affairs Director, Cargill), and Mr. Ernie Cecilia, Human Capital & Resources Chair at the AmCham). I learned a lot from you guys!
And dear readers, feel free to share best practices to make our workplace better for diverse group of people, and happy pride month to our LGBTIQA+ connections!