As of now, there are only two companies based in the Philippines offering benefits to their LGBTQ employees.
The United States-based tech giant IBM is the latest to offer benefits to the partners of their Filipino employees who belong to the LGBTQ community.
According to a Philippine Daily Inquirer report, IBM Philippines in a statement said their LGBTQ employees “can now enroll their domestic partners as qualified dependents and beneficiaries for the same benefits entitled to an employee’s spouse.”
Among these benefits are health coverage, election as beneficiary for group life insurance, and “accompanied employee” relocation entitlements.
IBM Philippines is the first IBM unit to offer benefits to LGBTQ partners in the Asean region.
IBM Japan was the first in the Asia Pacific region to offer the same benefits to LGBTQ partners.
“With IBM’s enduring commitment to diversity and its heritage of inclusiveness, our company has always strived to sustain the support to LGBTQ+ employees…. Prior to making these benefits available, domestic partners of LGBTQ+ IBM employees in the Philippines are able to avail leaves and other special benefits,” the report quoted Divya Sharma, Philippines HR Area Leader of IBM Philippines.
“Our people are central to IBM’s success – regardless of race, creed, gender, or disability,” Luis Pineda, President & Country General Manager of IBM Philippines was also quoted as saying.
“Diversity goes beyond fair hiring practices and protection for all employees. IBMers around the world work in an environment where diversity – including diversity of thought – is the norm, this promotes inclusiveness, and at the same time, create better innovation and outcomes,” Pineda added.
The IBM also has an internal LGBTQ business reource group EAGLE, or “Employee Alliance for LGBTQ+ Empowerment,” which coordinates with the human resources and management to organize activities with the aim of raising awareness on diversity policies and programs, the statement said.
In 2013, Thomson Reuters has put up a “domestic partners benefits eligibilities policy” which allows partners of their LGBT employees to be listed as beneficiaries in the company’s benefits package.
Peter Buenaseda, senior site officer and head of Human Resources at Thomson Reuters, was quoted in a BusinessWorld report that the policy “allows employees to enroll their domestic partners, either straight or same sex, as dependents or beneficiaries of the company’s core programs for Healthplan, Group Life Insurance and Retirement Plan.”
These companies are riding the global trend of LGBTQ-friendly policies to promote diversity and respect, amid a wave of legalization of same-sex marriage in Western countries.
It remains to be seen if the Philippines would adopt this same policy in the workplace, given that the legislature has yet to pass a law prohibiting discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Due to the strong influence of the Roman Catholic Church, the conservative country has yet to legalize same-sex marriage, especially with the Philippine government’s legal arm bent on junking a petition before the Supreme Court seeking to legalize same-sex marriage.
The Philippine Catholic Church considers homosexuality an intrinsic disorder and same-sex marriage a “sin to chastity.”