Transwoman empowered to create LGBTQ-friendly workspace
Transwoman Shey Cruz believes that employees must, first and foremost, know their rights to be able to hurdle potential challenges in the workplace.
“We are all created equal by our creator. We may have differences in terms of sexuality, beliefs and understanding but at the end of the day, we are all human. We should know how to fight for our rights by educating ourselves and those around us,” she says.
Cruz says she is empowered to be a better advocate for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) rights in the workplace, being the regional cochair of Spectrum Philippines, a resource group at TELUS International Philippines (TIP) for LGBTQ employees.
“TIP, together with our resource group, made me feel welcomed and accepted for who I really am,” she says. “The leaders who support Spectrum made me a better leader and advocate who spreads awareness of certain causes.”
While there is still a lot that must be done, Cruz says that she has seen improvements when it comes to the treatment of LGBTQ members in the workplace, particularly at TIP.
“We started Spectrum at TIP in 2014. Then little by little, we’re achieving the goal that we want, which is to make TELUS International Philippines as the most LGBTQIA+ (LBTQ plus questioning, intersex, asexual and more) -friendly company in the market,” she says. “Not to mention our people, especially our leaders, are now more open and well-informed about this very important matter.”
For the 34-year-old, who has been working at TIP for 16 years, she feels lucky that she has not experienced discrimination in this company, which provides digitally-enabled customer experience and business process solutions. Currently, Cruz works at TIP as a general administration analyst, having graduated with a degree in nursing from Perpetual Help College, Manila.
“There are a lot of transgender individuals in the workplace [who] are confident to express who they really are. It’s proof that little by little, the company and our team members are improving in embracing diversity. Our resource groups, our leaders and our policies help everyone gain confidence and express our genuine self,” she says.
At TIP, they conduct a SOGIE (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Expression Equality) 101 session for all employees, as well as gender sensitivity sessions for the leaders and managers to help promote an inclusive relationship within teams. The company also has a self-identified restroom and sleeping quarters for their employees. They provide health maintenance coverage for domestic partners regardless of gender.
“The policies and benefits are not just for the transgender team members. It covers everyone, especially those who are part of the LGBTQIA+ community,” says Cruz.
Cruz shares that they also celebrate Pride month by partnering with various organizations like Metro Manila Pride and QC Pride. When they could not join the Pride march because of pandemic restrictions, they instead held a drag competition called Ready Set Drag. Dressing in drag involves cross-dressing while exaggerating femininity or masculinity in their attire. “This allows our team members to bring out their talents and skills by representing their respective sites in one stage,” Cruz says.
According to Cruz, a company needs to be consistent in making sure that its benefits and policies are applicable to everyone in order to be truly gender-inclusive. Having a diverse and inclusive company has many advantages, such as improving employee productivity, recruitment and retention as well as generating fresh ideas and innovations, and attracting more clients. Cruz adds that a more inclusive company helps employees become more confident about themselves in general, even if they are not part of the LGBTQ community.
“Being a woman is never a hindrance in order for us to achieve our goals. Instead, let’s use it to our advantage,” Cruz says. INQ
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