Society has worked very hard to promote diversity and equality among all social identities, such as gender, race and age. World-renowned movements (such as the LGBT Rights movement or Black Lives Matter movement) have given communities the opportunity to make their voices heard and echo across the globe. Unfortunately, the fight for equality is still ongoing because there are still powerful individuals who choose to turn their backs on the oppressed.
In light of current news, we’ve recently learned that Manila’s 6th District Rep. Benny Abante has just refiled his “Heterosexual Act”, now known as House Bill No. 5717 or the “Heterosexual Act of 2022”, seeking to “recognize, define, and protect the rights of heterosexuals”. Several individuals have expressed their concern and disappointment towards the filing of the proposed bill. Indeed, this news is something to be concerned about.
Currently, employees are protected by several laws and acts such as: - The Magna Carta for Women (RA No. 9710), - The Anti-Sexual Harrassment Act (RA No. 7877), - The Magna Carta for Persons with Disability (Republic Act No. 7277).
The SOGIE Equality Bill was also filed in the Senate in 2000, which seeks to protect the right of all Filipinos for equal protection, ultimately recognizing the equal rights of Filipino LGBTI members as well. However, after many years, this bill has yet to be passed. The only silver-lining protecting the rights of LGBT community members is the The Republic Act No. 11313 or The Safe Spaces Act (Bawal Bastos Law), which covers all forms of gender-based sexual harassment committed in public spaces, educational or training institutions, workplace and online space (Public-Private Partnership Center, 2022).
Should the “Heterosexual Act of 2022” take into effect, the safety of the vulnerable will become endangered - especially with regards to the workplace. Today, many companies now understand the value of welcoming diversity and equality, and they promote this by creating safe spaces for their employees. However, this safe space that workers rely on will be threatened if the law forces them to go against it.
Fostering diversity and inclusion in the workplace is important because this makes all members of an organization feel equally involved and supported, regardless of their social identity. Companies can greatly benefit from nurturing a safe environment, such as: an increase in employee productivity and innovation (WGU, 2019); higher employee retention and revenue growth (Great Place To Work, 2021); and a better understanding of consumers from various backgrounds (Dualoop, 2022).
It is more likely for employees to feel comfort and joy with their role in an organization when working in an environment and culture where they feel safe, supported, and welcomed. A competitive advantage is gained when workers are productive, willing, and stay in a company because of a positive culture.
Whether a bill going against the promotion of diversity and equality is passed or not, companies must continue to build a positive workplace culture and take it upon themselves to protect their employees’ rights. Because, in the end, companies who are willing and able to adapt to an ever-changing society will always lead the race against those who remain stagnant.
Bush, M. (2021). Why Is Diversity & Inclusion in the Workplace Important? Great Place to Work. Retrieved November 9, 2022, from https://www.greatplacetowork.com/resources/blog/why-is-diversity-inclusion-in-the-workplace-important
JobStreet. (n.d.). How The Philippine Labor Code Protects Against Workplace Discrimination. JobStreet. Retrieved November 9, 2022, from https://www.jobstreet.com.ph/en/cms/employer/laws-of-attraction/inspirations/how-the-philippine-labor-code-protects-against-workplace-discrimination/ Mehmed, F. (2022). Why Does Having A Diverse and Inclusive Workplace Matter? dualoop. Retrieved November 9, 2022, from https://www.dualoop.com/blog/why-does-having-a-diverse-and-inclusive-workplace-matter
Public-Private Partnership Center. (2022). Republic Act No. 11313 or The Safe Spaces Act (Bawal Bastos Law). PPP Center. Retrieved November 9, 2022, from https://ppp.gov.ph/press_releases/republic-act-no-11313-or-the-safe-spaces-act-bawal-bastos-law/
Western Governors University. (2019). Barriers and Benefits of Diversity in the Workplace. Western Governors University. Retrieved November 9, 2022, from https://www.wgu.edu/blog/barriers-benefits-diversity-workplace1906.html#close
Yap, Kung, Ching Associates & Law. (n.d.). Labor Law in Manila Philippines | YKC Law. Yap Kung Ching & Associates Law. Retrieved November 9, 2022, from https://www.ykclaw.ph/labor-law-manila-philippines/