PFIP launches first book on LGBTQ+ workplace experience and inclusion

PHOTOGRAPHS COURTESY OF PFIP The ‘Playbook’ is supported by extensive research from the UP Center for Women’s and Gender Studies.

The Philippine Financial and Inter-Industry Pride (PFIP) launched the first book on Philippine LGBTQ+ workplace experience and inclusion on 23 February at the residence of the Dutch ambassador in Makati City.

The event was graced by Senator Risa Hontiveros, a longtime LGBTQ+ ally and main proponent of the SOGIESC Equality Bill; the Netherlands’ ambassador to the Philippines Marielle Geraedts, German ambassador Anke Reiffenstuel, LGBTQ+ advocates and business sector leaders.

Published with the support of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in the Philippines, the 50-page PFIP Playbook for LGBT+ Inclusive Workplaces in the Philippines is a compendium of LGBTQ+ inclusive policies, programs and practices for local companies and organizations, supported by extensive research from the University of the Philippines Center for Women’s and Gender Studies.

“This compendium is the first of kind in terms of organizational research on LGBTQ+ workplace experience in the Philippines. It documents the best practices and elevated mechanisms undertaken by the leader companies towards building more inclusive workplaces in our country. It is intended to be a reference point for business leaders from small companies to multinational conglomerates for the responsible and ethical corporate governance following the need of international best practices and global standards,” said Chris Eugenio, member of the PFIP board of trustees.

He further said that the Playbook “is a critical resource for business managers and industry leaders who are looking to build safe and welcoming, diverse and inclusive, and ethical and sustainable organizations.”

“Based on the experiences and expertise of leading private organizations in the Philippines today — all recognized employers of choice — the Playbook defines what’s possible within our current socio-legal landscape and directs stakeholders towards greater LGBT+ inclusion in our workplaces and beyond,” he revealed.

German Ambassador to the Philippines Anke Reiffenstuel and Sen. Risa Hontiveros.

Eugenio said that LGBTQ+ workers have been made invisible in the workplace for the longest time.

“This invisibility is made certain by several interdependent factors — first, pervading, systemic and structural forms of discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community; second, misconceptions about sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions, and third, the lack of complete data to better understand gender-based plight in the workplace,” he explained. “To a certain extent, the confluence and intersection of other elements such as race, ethnicity, class and disability compound this invisibility of LGBT+ persons in the workplace.”

He also said while the Philippines leads in closing the gender gap, there have been inconsistencies and challenges in achieving real equity and inclusivity.

“Concrete policies that recognize the fundamental rights of LGBT individuals are nowhere to be seen. These include the rights to identity and free expression; fair and equal access to different work opportunities and protection from gender-based violence and discrimination, policies that are essential to fully realizing the dignity of work, especially for LGBT+ professionals,” he pointed out.

The most glaring one is the lack of a national law that protect people from gender-based discrimination and abuses. The SOGIESC (sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and sex characteristics) Equality Bill has been languishing in Congress for 23 years now, with many politicians blocking it from being approved.

photographs courtesy of PFIP
Industry leaders, civil society and government representatives attend the PFIP ‘Playbook’ launch hosted by The Netherlands Embassy.

A glaring gap
According to Hontiveros, the SOGIESC Equality Bill for so many years “has been filed and heard and debated upon on the floor, back and forth.”

“It has been considered a controversial bill. But in truth, there is nothing controversial about it,” she said. “At the heart of this bill, these are basic rights. Like protection from work prohibition, protection from bullying, protection from expulsion from schools, protection from discrimination in access to emergency and necessary medical services.”

She reiterated the need for the bill because “we do have fellow Filipinos who are not afforded these fundamental and very basic protections. They experience this every day, and they cannot even turn to the law because the law is not specific, not detailed enough, not explicit enough, to include them in its protection.”

“No one, no one takes the brunt of the gap in our laws on these basic protections more than the LGBTQIA+ community. And each day we delay, many suffer. Some even lose their lives. The cost is too high. If we love our country, we must love everyone in it. Every Filipino must be part of the society we imagine. There is no equality if one of us is left behind. Our liberties are only guaranteed if the liberties of each and every person are protected,” she emphasized.

Hontiveros also enumerated what needs to be done such as reaching out to as many people as possible to make them aware what SOGIESC is and about the struggles of the LGBTQ+ community and to pressure the congress to prioritize the bill.

“Despite the attempts of many people to sweep this under the rug, the discrimination is felt, the abuses are real, and they are incontestable. While the bill has not yet passed, let’s push for smaller, other but cumulative wins such as workplace policies that ensure the guaranteed protection of everyone and the access to benefits like medical insurance for all…. Let’s educate our workplace and communities so that they understand what SOGIE equality is truly about,” she added.

SenAtor Risa Hontiveros with the PFIP team.

Winning in the workplace
One of the LGBTQ+ wins is the increasing number of companies in the Philippine adopting diversity, equity and inclusion or DEI policies. Advocates say that inclusion also benefits the companies.

DEI policies are “always about people first” and “about promoting employee welfare and wellbeing,” said Jai Leonard Carinan, PFIP founding leader and executive director.

“When organization provides diversity training, allyship behaviors, it leads to positive outcomes in the LGBTQ employee welfare. Also, studies point that perception and inclusion affect an organization’s quality, productivity and innovation,” he explained. “Overall, inclusive work environment approaches have positive effect on LGBT employee’s job satisfaction and commitment to work.”
Another benefit of inclusive policies is talent attraction.

“In the quest of companies to get the best and brightest talents, it is imperative to the truly inclusive. Many studies have shown that younger and mid-career workers are Millennials, Gen X’s, Gen Y’s and Gen Z’s who prefer LGBTQ-friendly companies. International Labor Organization pointed out that discrimination in the labor market makes organizations miss out on the full extent of LGBTQ workplace talent,” Carinan said.

“Also, teams with members whose sexual orientation matches their target consumers can better understand the market they cater,” he added.

On the other hand, Geraedts said, “More and more businesses are realizing that diversity, equity and inclusion are not only buzzwords. These ideas represent hope and progress for many in the LGBTQIA+ community, who are deserving of recognition and respect as they live and work according to their true selves and identities.”

Celebrating 10 years
With the launch of the Playbook, PFIP marks its 10th anniversary.

“Since 2013, PFIP has been pioneering industry-leading equity, inclusion and diversity programs in the Philippines. Starting from a five-member Breakfast Club from the local banking and financial services and insurance sector, the organization’s ambition has since grown from merely adapting DEI policies to the local context to promoting practices that support the career development of Filipino LGBT+ talents,” Eugenio related. “With 80-plus member firms across multiple industries from Metro Manila, Cebu and Baguio, PFIP is the leading voice and champion for workplace DEI.”

As they celebrate their anniversary with a book, he said they “are taking the fight for SOGIESC equality to the boardrooms of the most influential private employers in the Philippines.”

The Playbook also chronicles PFIP’s successes on its first decade, featuring case studies illustrating DEI journeys of PFIP member companies, from early pains to landmark wins. It “is an ode and tribute to the resilience of the LGBT+ community and the power of allyship in opening more inclusive spaces for diverse talents,” according to Eugenio.

Weena Ekid, PFIP incorporating board trustee and chairperson, revealed that the Playbook will be launched at the CEO Forum on 13 April and at the Cebu Workplace Inclusion Forum on 27 May, and they also “look forward to introducing it to local companies, government offices, the academe, and making them part of our DEI conversations.”

“At a time when LGBT+ Filipinos are being denied their rights, PFIP on its tenth founding anniversary, is reinforcing its commitment to protect and promote safe workplaces within the corporate Pride community while reaffirming its support to the greater LGBT+ ecosystem in the Philippines,” Eugenio said.

He added that “the Playbook aims to uphold the human rights of LGBT+ individuals, promote discourse on responsible and ethical business conduct in the Philippines, and create broader spaces for allyship and mutually respect within the Philippine society. This will also serve as a guide for compliance when — not if — a national anti-discrimination law is passed.”

For a complimentary digital copy of the Playbook, one may sign up at To know more about the PFIP, visit and their social media accounts (;;; and

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