Capping off this year’s Pride Month and putting the spotlight on LGBTQI+ small business recovery efforts in the time of COVID-19, the Philippine LGBT Chamber of Commerce (PLCC) and Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) co-hosted the online event with the theme “Recover with Pride,” on June 24. The virtual forum tackled Inclusion, Diversity, and Equality in the current global landscape and future of #LGBT enterprises in the next normal. The panel of speakers included Australian Parliament member Tim Wilson; PLCC Chair Ronn Astillas; Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte and the city’s Gender Consultant Atty. Clara Rita Padilla; Castro Communications Managing Director Janlee Dungca; as well as Jane Joe, serial entrepreneur and owner of Kitchen Joes, Haibee Pure Native Coffee, and Communi-T.
Wilson noted that the pandemic highlighted the necessity of economic growth and opportunities for vulnerable communities, as they are disproportionately affected by COVID-19. Mayor Belmonte and Atty. Padilla meanwhile shared the city’s best practices on SOGIESC (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, Expression, and Sex Characteristics) governance with the passage of “Gender Fair Ordinance” ensuring the protection of the LGBT+ community through affirmative acts in employment, education, delivery of goods and services, and accommodation as well as SOGIESC trainings as a prerequisite for businesses to receive their business permit.
Dungca and Joe, as heads and owners of LGBT+ businesses, stated that recovery meant reiterating their relevance to their stakeholders and partners. LGBT+ businesses are undeniably one of the hardest-hit by COVID-19, resiliency and sustainability requires tapping into available tools that will help everyone overcome these trying times. For his part, PLCC chair Ronn Astillas highlighted that building inclusive communities requires looking at the correct parameters and variables. “We need to look at the legal framework and protection, representation, and visibility, thus, creating a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion ecosystem–or DEIcosystem–would mean rigorously assessing the workplace, which will create a ripple effect on the marketplace, and then the communal space,” Astillas exclaimed.
As CIPE’s partner, PLCC is developing a Governance SOGIE Diversity & Inclusiveness Index (SDGI), which will assess the measures and policies in place within government to ensure wider SOGIESC inclusion, diversity, and equity. This study is set to be released later this year.