“We have a problem. It’s a problem that’s bigger than our brands, bigger than our industry. It’s a societal problem.”- Bee Pahnke, Head of Voice at Grey London
February 16, 2023, along with business topics ranging from obvious ones like “How To Build Trust To Grow Your Customer Base” to the more niche samples like “How Small Businesses Leverage TikTok,” SEM Rush’s Global Marketing Day shed light on one often overlooked subject for most businesses, a three-letter acronym that can either make or break a business: DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion).
In her presentation titled “Why Diversity Should be at the Heart of Your Marketing (and How to Get it Right)”, Phanke, a communications guru with over a decade of experience shaping brands, stated that “60% of LGBTQ+ don’t feel safe enough to be ‘out’ at work,” and how only “1% of primetime ads featured people with disabilities.” This is the problem that we have as a society, and the same one that, through micro efforts, businesses can help fix.
One core value that is espoused within DOXA Talent is inclusion, and this is rigidly perpetuated throughout the lifecycle of a VIP–how employees are referred to internally. As DOXA Talent’s Vice President for Talent Experience, Eric Riego De Dios puts it, DEI is “Not just lip service. It’s our way of life.” In a short conversation with him and the organization’s Talent Experience Business Partner, Michiko Lachica, light was shed on both the small and big steps their team has taken to ensure that every VIP feels a sense of belongingness.
A Matter of Ability
As the world continues to adapt to remote work setups, it’s essential to ensure that everyone can participate fully, including those with disabilities. In the US alone, people with disabilities make up 30% of the workforce, with only 3.2% of that group having disclosed their respective conditions to their employers.
DOXA Talent, as an organization with a permanent remote work setup, believes that promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) means accommodating all employees’ needs, regardless of their physical abilities.
“We are an equal opportunity employer,” Eric begins.
“In more ways than one, we are able to amplify the different abilities–some people may call it ‘differently abled’ or ‘people with disabilities’. (A) Work from home (setup) allows that. Because if you have mobility issues but are able to work, we embrace that,” he continues.
“Also, some organizations who have applicants in wheelchairs are not able to accommodate that because of the need to commute. But for us at DOXA, it’s our normal lifestyle, where you can just stay in your room without having to struggle in terms of mobility or commuting. That’s our way of amplifying inclusion,” he concludes.
Staying True To Being “Borderless”
As the smoke of the COVID-19 pandemic cleared, we saw the quick paradigm shift of businesses pivoting from their brick-and-mortar offices to embracing more flexible arrangements. While more and more organizations are reconsidering traditional workplace structures and entertaining the thought of giving employees the freedom to work from anywhere, DOXA Talent was quick to adapt to this change. Co-founder David Nilssen saw right away how this shift offers a unique opportunity to promote DEI by accommodating employees’ needs regardless of their location.
Michiko shares, “”For people living in the metro, they tend to forget that there are people who come from the provinces who would like to have opportunities in the city. Most of the companies who offer good career paths, compensations, and benefits packages are all in the city.”
She continues, “For the people in the provinces, we have to choose between going away from where we live to have a career, or sacrificing our careers to get to stay where we want to stay. A lot of people forget about that.”
Eric adds, “We are redefining inclusion and belongingness, for example, people who are not able to commute on a daily basis, because of the distance of their homes to their offices, we’re able to include them. People who take care of their senior parents who are not anymore able to fend for themselves, we are also able to include them in our portfolio of resources.”
“”Mothers who are nursing their newborns can just work from home without inconveniencing them, without having the need to refrigerate their breast milk,” he concludes.
“Gender Is Not A Filter For Us”
If you fail to engage with diverse demographic groups in the communities you serve, you risk losing out on valuable talent. Diversity and inclusion have many interpretations, but ultimately they are centered around recognizing that every person is unique and deserving of respect, regardless of factors such as race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, religion, age, or abilities.
It is crucial to implement DEI initiatives because they foster an environment where everyone can feel welcome and make their best contributions. A company’s success is heavily reliant on its capacity for innovation and creating novel solutions, both of which require a creative workforce with diverse skill sets – exactly what diversity provides.
“In our senior leadership team, we have two women (General Manager, Ira Crisologo and Chief of Staff, Lauren Hoover), and LGBTQ+ representation from all over the organization. That talks about how serious we are in terms of representing different identities within the gender spectrum,” Eric shares.
To complement the diversity in gender representation, Eric offers more details as to how DOXA Talent makes VIPs who identify beyond the gender binary feel that sense of belongingness.
“Nominating a dependent for group life or accident insurance is not a common practice for organizations, but here, at DOXA, you are able to do that,” he offers.
“More recently, we have expanded our benefits to cover domestic partners regardless of your gender identity. We won’t ask you for a marriage contract because same sex marriage is not yet legal in the Philippines. But as long as you can prove that you are cohabiting for a certain period of time, then we are able to include your partner as well in your benefits as a VIP,” he concludes.
Binary And Beyond
In 2023, self-identifying members of the LGBTQ+ community constituted 34% of the American workforce, while 2022 saw women make up 58.1% of it. Sadly, in other parts of the world, the statistics are much lower, and sometimes non-existent. In 2018, a research titled “Philippine Corporate SOGIE Diversity and Inclusiveness (CSDI) Index” reports that 60% of employed members of the LGBTQ+ community “have been the subject of slurs and jokes in the workplace.”
Gender inclusivity is an essential aspect of DOXA Talent’s DEI initiatives. It is about creating a welcoming and supportive environment for all employees, regardless of their gender identity.
In his message for Pride Month, DOXA Talent Co-founder and CEO, David Nilssen, defines the essence of inclusion within the organization by saying “In itself, Pride Month is a symbol of strength, a celebration of diversity, of love and self-expression. And more than that, it’s a message of inclusivity, a value that lies at the heart of our company.”
“(For us) inclusivity is not just a company value, it’s a commitment. (It’s) a promise to all that every single one of you is valued, everyone of you is respected and appreciated. It’s about creating a workplace where everyone is comfortable expressing themselves freely without fear of judgement or bias. I believe that when we include all voices, we understand each other better, we can innovate together, and we can just ultimately be better,” he further shares.
“Love Equally, Live Equally”
In celebrating Pride month this year, DOXA Talent further ignites its zest for inclusivity through their DEI efforts. “We have launched the theme for Pride month, that’s “Love Equally, Live Equally. Along with that, we are releasing infographics on SOGIE, announcements on the SOGIE Bill, and we’re running a fun quiz for everyone to have a basic understanding of what SOGIE is in the Philippines,” Michiko shares.
She details further, “I think it’s important that we have a basic understanding of the current picture of SOGIE in the Philippines because one of our core values is inclusion. At least, at the very basic level we understand that, so that when we encounter people who are members of the LGBTQ+ community we can fully accept them for their chosen gender identity.”