One of the many things I’ve learned ever since starting my Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) journey is understanding that we can have multiple identities that greatly impact our experience. We can be celebrated, accepted, or rejected just for isolated aspects of our identity.
People’s sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression may not only determine the degree of acceptance in society, but also their access to equal rights like marriage, legal recognition, mental health support, employment, housing, adoption, blood donation, healthcare, freedom, and even life. These basic yet fundamental rights are unquestionable for most of us, but unfortunately, they are not available for LGBTQIA+ in many countries. This is the fight that the LGBTQIA+ community across the world has been fighting for the past 50 years.
A lot of work has yet to be done to decriminalize homosexuality, enact anti-discrimination legislation, address systemic causes of disenfranchisement, and better educate everyone on the need for equality and respect for fundamental human rights. However, it is encouraging to know that there has been substantial development.
In just the first half of this year, according to EqualDex, 36 laws have been issued or changed in favor of the LGBTQIA+ communities, mainly about the legal recognition of non-binary gender, the right to donate blood, and legally banning conversion therapy. However, even countries with significant progress on LGBTQIA+ rights still face discrimination and censorship in many environments. Let’s take what happens in the workplace.
There’s no denying that companies around the world have taken great strides to build inclusive workplaces. However, LGBTQIA+ employees still face unique challenges. According to Catalyst, nearly half of LGBTQIA+ workers in the US experience some form of unfair treatment at work. This includes harassment, unjust termination, and hiring discrimination.
In the same report, it was found that transgender employees experience more demeaning forms of harassment and discrimination. They are denied bathroom access, addressed using incorrect pronouns, deadnamed, asked inappropriate questions, and abused verbally. These kinds of behavior instill sadness, turmoil, and even fear among LGBTQIA+ employees, resulting in changing who they are to protect themselves.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion with Us
Here at TaskUs, we are committed to build a diverse, equitable, and inclusive space for our LGBTQIA+ talent. We started by putting in place anti-discrimination policies as part of our Global Code of Conduct, and focused on providing equitable benefits. We were one of the first organizations in our industry to offer healthcare benefits to same-sex partners in the Philippines and gender confirmation surgery in India.
Policies are always the baseline, but in order to build a safe space for our LGBTQIA+ employees, it’s essential to consider all aspects of the employee experience. For instance, all-gender restrooms are set up in most of our facilities in the Philippines. Globally, employees can use their preferred name and pronouns in our main systems, communications, and corporate email, and also self-identify according to their sexual orientation and gender identity.
TaskUs established a safe line where employees can anonymously report any discrimination issues and the company can take action. Additionally, we have licensed psychologists and wellness coaches that are available for everyone to keep their mental health in check.
Moreover, our Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) have been instrumental in raising awareness and engaging our LGBTQIA+ employees across different geographies. We arrange cultural sessions and provide resources to educate and discuss DEI topics such as mitigating biases, to build inclusive workplaces.
Our commitment to inclusion also extends to the communities in which we operate. We actively contribute to organizations that support the LGBTQIA+ movement. For instance, in the Philippines, TaskUs partnered with Home For the Golden Gays Foundation, a shelter for displaced LGBTQIA+ senior citizens who faced rejection by their families, and LoveYourself, a non-profit in the Philippines that raises awareness and provides free testing and treatment to those living with HIV, to reach the wider community. Both foundations have been beneficiaries of TaskUs’ various fundraising events in the past few years. In Greece, we recently partnered with ActionAid to conduct a career talk to help boost employment opportunities.
While we have yet to see more concrete results of these initiatives, we believe that this is a good foundation already in giving people the choice in identifying who they are and providing resources that allow each employee to be their true selves.
Inclusion and allyship start with each and every one of us. It’s about appreciating the unique contributions an employee can make, beyond any aspect of their identity. It’s about making sure every voice is heard. It’s about being aware of our own biases and mitigating them with education and awareness. It’s about being allies, not mere bystanders. And most importantly, it does not start and end on Pride Month–it’s a commitment and celebration every day, all year long.