photo by Edg Adrian A. Eva

The passing of the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Expression (SOGIE) Equality bill will empower diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the workplace, a gender equality advocate said. 

“It will help catapult DEI in the workplace because the law (SOGIE Equality Bill) will prevent… discrimination,” Janlee Dungca, managing director of Castro PR, and a transwoman, said in an interview at the Pride Summit press conference held on June 27.  

The SOGIE Equality bill will offer protection against discrimination and violence in the workplace to all Filipinos, not just LGBTQIA+ individuals, Ms. Dungca said, as everyone has sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, and sex characteristics (SOGIESC).

“If a…woman gets discriminated against in the workplace or anywhere because she is a woman, the SOGIE Equality Law will also protect that person. If there is a man who gets discriminated for being a man, the law will also protect him,” Ms. Dungca furthered.  

The diversity in DEI suggests that companies hire different types of employees from various backgrounds, particularly regarding SOGIESC, she said.   

However, she explained that diversity is not enough; there should be equity and inclusivity in the workplace.  

“Equity means that you’re (going to) give more opportunities or more leverage for the marginalized people (LGBTQIA+) so that they can be on the same standing as the non-LGBT people. Inclusion… means you are helping this diverse set of people to achieve their limitless potential by having benefits that included,” Ms. Dungca said. 

Her advocacy for DEI in the workplace began after she experienced discrimination in a job application for a student-formator role at a religious academic institution in 2011. 

“My friend who worked in the HR Department of the said institution told me that a huge consideration as to why I didn’t get the job was because I’m trans,” she explained.  

A global study by the University of California School of Law’s Williams Institute in 2021 found that around 29.8% of LGBTQIA+ employees reported not being hired for a job because of their SOGIESC. 

The respondents reported SOGIESC-based unfair treatment during the job hiring process, including explicitly discouraging LGBTQIA+ applicants from applying for a job position.    

“Because I was judged, not because of my capabilities, but because of me being trans…looking back, I wish I did better… but also that really pushes me to advocate for gender equality, for diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace,” Ms. Dungca said. – Edg Adrian A. Eva