Pride in any color

“#ProudToBeMe, Proud To Be Blue,” a talk that aimed to empower LGBTQ+ students to reach their full potential and become persons-for-and-with-others, was held at Leong Hall of Ateneo de Manila University recently. Snacks company Mondelez Philippines participated in the school’s annual Pride event with a focus on fostering safer spaces for LGBTQ+ students, all through a fun and interactive session.

While mostly known for its brands like Tang, Cheez Whiz, Oreo, as well as Toblerone and Cadbury Dairy Milk, Mondelez Philippines is also lauded for its efforts to constantly empower both its consumers and employees through its DEI initiatives.

Diversity is a strength

Mondelez Philippines chooses to believe that it is stronger through its diverse, inclusive and connected community. Celebrating 60 years in the Philippines, it acts by doing what is right and treating everyone with integrity and fairness and creating a culture that fosters a true sense of belonging. “Mondelez Philippines will always be on the side of championing equality, no matter who you are. Diversity, equity, and inclusion are measures of how we stay true to our purpose to empower people to snack right; with the right snack, for the right moment and made the right way,” said Mondelez Philippines’ People Lead April Valencia.

Diversity and empowerment in every bite

The company has made efforts to express its support for the LGBTQ+ community and has implemented DEI initiatives in its company’s processes locally and globally, where a performance scorecard has been instituted for all business units emphasizing on women representation and LGBTQIA Council project implementation. 

Globally, the company expressed commitment to enable 100 percent of its business units to have partnerships supporting locally relevant but underrepresented communities as well as to spend $1 billion with minority and women-owned businesses by 2024.

In the Philippines, the company also prides itself in being the first country in its Southeast Asian business unit to have a gender-neutral restroom and a DEI policy, a testament to its goal of providing safe spaces for its people and guests. The DEI policy safeguards three rights for its colleagues, the right to a name, the right to dress and the right to safe spaces. In its organizational structure, the company also has an impressive 60 to 40 women to men leadership ratio, meaning 60 percent of its leaders are women.

“This is only the beginning,” said Valencia. “Our commitment goes beyond just expressing our support, being an ally is a responsibility that entails tangible steps to building a more equitable world, and that means cultivating a bias-free and empowering workplace, a vision we plan on following through.”

One Big Pride and Proud to be Blue

Established in 2018, the Ateneo Sanggunian Commission on Gender Equality champions
gender-based issues with a nuanced and critical awareness towards progressive reforms inside and outside of the campus.

Ateneo Sanggunian CGE
co-deputy Isabela delos Santos shares that the organization aims to bridge concerns of the student body and formulate initiatives to address these.

“We (CGE) reach out to organizations to further promote our advocacies. CGE has partnered with Love Yourself PH to offer free HIV testing within campus,” Delos Santos shared.

“CGE offers gender sensitivity training to its members and other Sanggunian units. We are working on offering this service to other organizations,” she added.

Furthermore, CGE also takes the lead in celebrating and promoting gender awareness efforts such as Rainbow spaces, women’s month celebrations and many more.

This year’s pride celebration, One Big Pride: Power in Pride was a celebration of love for the LGBTQ+ community in the university and a protest against the ongoing injustices that the community continues to struggle with. Students participated in a Pride march, together with other activities such as free HIV/STI testing, a Queer Fair and Pridecasts.

In partnership with Talakayang Alab ng Bayan, an annual event in Ateneo aimed at providing students with opportunities to reflect on the various issues confronting the nation, Mondelez Philippines and Ateneo held a joint event that featured activities, talks, panel discussions and drag performances.

DEI culture was already felt in full force upon arrival as students were welcomed with a safe environment to proudly express their own identities. An LGBTQuiz Bee was also held. Hosted by Mela Habijan, Miss Trans Global 2020 and an ADMU alumni, students engaged in fun activities that tested their knowledge on vital topics of diversity, equality, and inclusivity within the LGBTQ+ in both academic and corporate settings. Lucky winners took home gift packages from Mondelez Philippines.

The event also featured notable speakers from the Ateneo Sanggunian Commission on Gender Equality, Isabella delos Santos, University Gender and Development Office, Mibo Borres, People lead of Mondelez Philippines, April Valencia and lead of e-commerce of Mondelez Philippines Monch Cruz.

When asked about Mondelez Philippines’ DE&I policies, Cruz explained that they are gender-neutral, ensuring equal opportunities for everyone to thrive.

“In the Philippines, most policies are created with distinction between those who are married or not. At Mondelez, you can extend benefits to your partner as long as necessary documents are provided,” shared Cruz.

As students in the Ateneo have had more protections and policies to uphold their identities, some have raised concerns of the future, especially in terms of their careers.

With Mondelez Philippines’ commitment to cultivate an inclusive work environment, De los Santos now believes that it is possible for students like her to seek employment opportunities with companies that do not discriminate against their SOGIESC.