Welcome to the tenth installment in the ongoing Local Diversity and Inclusion Spotlight series. In these blog posts, we’ll be exploring how various countries around the world address diversity and inclusion in their culture and workplace.
Our newest spotlight country? The Philippines, a country that celebrates its Independence Day on June 12.
Here are some things to know about diversity and inclusion in the Philippines.
Note: Information is excerpted from GlobeSmart Culture Guides.
Although homosexuality has long been legal, discretion is recommended in public.
In the Philippines, same-sex sexual relationships are legal in private. However, certain acts and displays of affection in public may be subject to arrest. For example, in Marawi City, men are forbidden to crossdress or to exhibit “feminine behaviors.”
While there aren’t national anti-discrimination laws protecting members of the LGBT community, many localities have anti-discrimination ordinances.
There are no national anti-discrimination laws protecting gays and lesbians. However, in 2017, a bill that would ban discrimination against all people based on sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity passed the House of Representatives. In the absence of national protections, many regions of the country including Quezon City, Cebu City, and Albay province have their own ordinances prohibiting discrimination against LGBT individuals.
Although LGBT individuals are generally accepted by Filipinos, one might avoid challenging traditional cultural institutions relating to family and the Catholic Church.
The Philippines is a predominantly Catholic country, and the church exerts great influence in shaping somewhat socially conservative attitudes. Despite being a matriarchal society, somewhat “macho” culture is also common throughout the country.
Nevertheless, the Philippines has a thriving gay scene, especially in Manila, where Asia’s oldest Pride Parade has drawn as many as 1,500 participants. The country’s very popular talk-show host, Boy Abunda, is openly gay, and the Philippines has the world’s only “dedicated gay political party,” Ladlad. The party’s chairperson says that Filipinos generally have a “passive tolerance” for gays and lesbians. As long as traditional family hierarchies are not challenged, many say, LGBT people usually find acceptance in Philippine society. While much progress has been made, many people in the LGBT community prefer not to openly defy established cultural norms.
Note: The abbreviation LGBT+ stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and the + is inclusive of other groups and identities.
Since women are highly respected in the Philippines, foreign businessmen should avoid any condescending attitudes toward them.
Although “machismo” can seem to be the norm on the surface, the Philippines is a matriarchal society and women should not face significant obstacles in the Filipino business world. In general, Filipinos strongly favor democracy, individual freedom, and educational access for all. Consequently, Filipinas are typically as highly educated as men, and women head many large organizations, government offices, and entrepreneurial companies.
As a result, foreign businessmen, in particular, should avoid any condescending attitudes towards Filipino women or any suggestion that they prefer to discuss matters with male counterparts first.
Relationship building is key to most business interactions in the Philippines.
Foreign businesswomen are welcome in most Philippine business circles and given equal opportunity to succeed. In most business interactions, the key for both men and women is relationship building.
Female colleagues should not be expected to entertain foreign visitors with after-dinner drinks or at clubs.
Female colleagues should not expect to entertain foreign visitors with after-dinner drinks or at clubs. Unchaperoned out-of-town trips with local female colleagues, in particular, are viewed as taboo and should not be suggested.
As a foreign businesswoman, avoid conflict if confronted with macho attitudes in the workplace.
Foreign businesswomen in the Philippines should avoid conflict if confronted with macho attitudes in the workplace. It is often best to let the behavior pass without reacting.
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