From Visayas to Manila: Celebrating Pride with Cebuana Lhuillier’s LGBTQIA+ employees

From Visayas to Manila: Celebrating Pride with Cebuana Lhuillier’s LGBTQIA+ employees
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Two LGBTQIA+ workers from Cebuana Lhuillier Visayas were granted the exceptional chance to travel from the Visayas to Manila to take part in the much-anticipated Quezon City Pride March. This trip was made possible by their employer as a part of Cebuana Lhuillier's iBelong internal diversity campaign, which aims to promote a welcoming and inclusive work environment.

The two employees, Hipolito “Pauline” Gonzales Jr. and Oscar Buenavista Jr. stood out in an internal contest which was hosted within the company, thereby earning much-deserved all-expense paid trips to Manila.

Upon coming back to their respective provinces and work, Gonzales and Buenavista reminisce about their Pride March experience and how it feels to be a part of the Cebuana Lhuillier organization.

A dream come true

For Gonzales, an openly gay branch appraiser of Cebuana Lhuillier Surigao, the chance to join the Pride March in Manila was a dream realized since it covered many first experiences for her, including her first-ever plane ride.

“It was my first time, so it was a new and interesting experience for me. It allowed me to give myself permission to be the real authentic me. From riding a plane and going to Manila to attend the Pride March 2024, I feel so grateful and honored for the whole experience,” says Gonzales.

Having worked with the company for 6 years, Gonzales says that she never encountered any discrimination from the organization. Rather, she’s happy to have supportive colleagues who appreciate her hard work.

“Never ko naramdaman na pinipigilan kami to express our true selves as long as we are fit to work and that we can do things with PRIDE,” she added.

Marching with pride

Buenavista, a proud LGBTQIA+ branch appraiser from Cebuana Lhuillier Claver, echoed Gonzales’ statements. “What made me stay in Cebuana Lhuillier is the non-toxic workplace that allows me to have peace of mind. Here, I feel respected, seen, and valued by my colleagues as well as our clients,” he said.

In his five-year stay with Cebuana Lhuillier, Buenavista shares that he has strongly developed strong values like hard work, determination, and patience as these have helped him get to where he is today. For Buenavista, his participation in the Pride March was more than just a personal milestone; it was a statement of visibility and acceptance.

“As members of the LGBTQIA+ community, we have to be visible and we should not be ashamed of who we are. Because I believe visibility leads to understanding and understanding leads to acceptance.”

Embracing culture of diversity and inclusion

Cebuana Lhuillier has a transformative internal campaign called iBelong that promotes understanding, respect, and diversity across all levels of the organization. For employees like Gonzales and Buenavista, this initiative is a testament to the company's commitment to fostering an inclusive environment where every employee feels they belong, regardless of their differences, including gender.

“Diversity and inclusion are personal commitments of mine. At Cebuana Lhuillier, we believe that our strength lies in our diversity. The iBelong campaign demonstrates our dedication to standing with our employees and celebrating their identities, no matter their background or identity. Through this campaign, we have fostered a culture of acceptance within our organization while contributing to the broader societal movement towards equality for all,” says Jean Henri Lhuillier, President and CEO of Cebuana Lhuillier.

The experiences shared by Gonzales and Buenavista are just some testaments that highlight the positive impact that supportive workplace initiatives can have on individual lives. As Cebuana Lhuillier continues to champion inclusivity through iBelong, it sets a powerful example for other organizations to follow, especially when it comes to embracing diversity in the workplace. PR

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