By Deena Fidas (she/her), Managing Director | Chief Program and Partnerships Officer, Out & Equal

Cover Photo Caption from Left to Right: Weena Ekid (he/him), Steven Bielinski (he/him), Deena Fidas (she/her), Dr. Ver Reyes (she/her), Atty. Regal Oliva (she/her), Ian Fegalan (he/him)

Around the globe, Out & Equal is committed to advancing “The Business of Belonging”—LGBTQ+ inclusive programs, policies, and cultures rich with inclusive leadership at all levels.

In the Asia Pacific (APAC) region, our Global Impact Programs team is driving LGBTQI+ workplace inclusion forward by connecting allies and change agents, leading and engaging in thoughtful programming and discussions on the value of belonging, and releasing research and actionable, solutions-oriented products that examine emerging and best workplace inclusion practices.

We began the year with programs, discussions, and engagements in three distinct APAC markets: India, the Philippines, and Japan. In fact, our team just returned from a trip last week where, with local organizations and our Partners at JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Dow, we led and engaged in critical discussions on the LGBTQ+ workplace experience, the value of belonging and inclusion, and the challenges and opportunities facing DEIB practitioners.

Now, before diving into key learnings and insights from this trip and our broader work within the region, it’s important to do some context setting.

APAC, like Europe-Middle East-Africa (EMEA), and Latin America (LATAM) are regional constructs that multinationals and multilateral institutions use to create cohesion across core employee, market, and community initiatives. The countries—their people, languages, and cultures—are not at all monolithic. It is why in our work with key private sector partners, we recognize the utility—and limitations—of these regional frameworks.

So, how can we advance LGBTQI+ workplace inclusion in APAC and beyond? Here are a few key insights and takeaways:

1. ‘’Glocal’’ frameworks, when implemented fully, are key to durable progress.

Left to Right: Curtis Baker (he/him), Deena Fidas (she/her), Patrick McLeod (he/him), Akriti Rana (she/her)

Global + local = Glocal. It is the two-way street of implementation, adaptation, and refinements in inclusion and belonging practices across multinationals, from headquarters to regional business units. In turn, local practices and refinements flow back to headquarters, strengthening global initiatives overall.  Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) while originating in the United States has found resonance and refinements in local APAC markets. Japan’s “primacy of the collective over the individual” societal culture, for example, would seem to put DEIB at odds with local culture. However, in adapting to the local context, successful DEIB efforts do not divide groups, but instead bring people together.

Authentic community engagement must start with a recognition of difference to nurture team strength. While in Tokyo, Dow co-hosted a half-day learning and networking session with 30 companies, half of which were multinational and half that were Japanese. The day kicked off with a call to action, from Patrick McLeod, President, Dow Japan Chairman and CEO, Dow Toray Co., Ltd.  for the companies in the room to learn from one another and together, drive change.

2. Headwinds and tailwinds are met with equal drive to further change.

Unwilling to rest on their laurels in victory or shrink into disappointment in loss, key workplace advocates in the region are laser-focused on what’s next.

Following the defeat of marriage equality in India, Out & Equal worked with our partner, Pride Circle on a resource outlining the path forward called, India’s Marriage Equality Loss and the Business Community: Next Steps for Continued LGBTQI+ Progress.

While we can celebrate and cherish the victories,in defeat, we can and must find our resilience to keeping pushing forward. That includes working with companies to double down on their commitments—in both words and practice—to the LGBTQI+ community. 

Left to Right: Steven Bielinski (he/him), Deena Fidas (she/her), Ebb Hinchliffe (he/him)

3. There is safety—and progress—in numbers.

At Out & Equal community is at the center of what we do. So, opportunities to connect directly with our Partner community and those impacted by our programming are incredibly important.

For example, JPMorgan Chase’s investment in our work to advance trans, nonbinary, and gender expansive corporate leadership opportunities, which is now in its fourth year, brought us to the Philippines.

In Manila, we met with the American Chamber of Commerce. In addition, we held a 100-person, 50 company half-day event with the Philippine Financial & Inter-Industry Pride (PFIP) and JPMorgan Chase. The goals of these convenings:

  • foster community by elevating stories of trans, nonbinary, and gender expansive trailblazers;
  • create opportunities for participants to expand and strengthen their professional and personal networks; and,
  • share and compare insights on DEIB strategies.

In APAC and around the globe, let’s continue the work of advancing LGBTQI+ equity and inclusion in the workplace. Let’s remember that the future of business is belonging. And let’s create workplaces where LGBTQI+ people can show up authentically and thrive.