Safe workplace for all | Inquirer Opinion
Women who lead

Safe workplace for all

/ 05:06 AM November 03, 2022

Safe workplace for all

In the Philippines, gender-based sexual harassment is a serious problem that rears its ugly head even in the advertising industry. Under the Safe Spaces Act, this constitutes any act that is committed through an unwarranted, unwanted, and uninvited sexual action or remark against a person of any gender identity, regardless of motive.


Given this backdrop, local companies like us at DDB Group Philippines have to reassure our employees and potential talents and their loved ones that our companies are safe places to work. This is especially crucial with the war on talent raging in the industry, and with the endless opportunities for talents to apply for work overseas and anywhere else.

As a group of companies that advocate the empowerment and protection of women and people of all genders, DDB Group Philippines ensures that its work environment is where our talents can feel safe and protected. This starts with fostering a workplace where people act with decency and are treated with dignity and respect through a strong policy on preventing gender-based sexual harassment.


Unsolicited and unwelcome sexual overtures or conduct, verbally or physically, against any employee—woman, man, or LGBTQIA+—is considered a violation of DDB policy and will thus be met with stringent disciplinary actions, including termination of employment. This entails putting accountability measures in place and promptly addressing complaints coming from either the victim, a witness, or both.

Especially in this pandemic that brought about unprecedented challenges and heightened awareness around gender injustices, our teams work together in new ways to create inclusive workplaces where there’s open communication and all employees look out for each other.

Alongside our zero-tolerance policy on gender-based sexual harassment, we also organize talks on safe spaces and gender equality trainings with partner organizations like the Philippine Business Coalition for Women Empowerment and create IEC materials to remind our staff about our antisexual harassment policies and the behaviors that constitute this unlawful act, and how not to be a victim or perpetrator of it. As a result, DDB has had zero incidence of sexual and gender-based harassment in the last five years, a testament to our respectful, and gender-equal workplace.

More importantly, us DDB leaders also encourage our people to use their creative ideas to help deliver the message against sexual harassment and violence against women. One of these campaigns was the Macho Choir ( we conceptualized for the Philippine Commission on Women. It consists of a series of jingles that create awareness about catcalling and other forms of sexual harassment in public spaces.

The negative impact of gender-based sexual harassment can be far and wide. It is traumatic for the victims and detrimental to their career and well-being. On the other hand, aside from reputational damage, companies may find themselves struggling with turnover and recruitment, as employees would knowingly keep themselves away from a hostile working condition and toxic environment.

Sexual harassment simply has no room in the creative industry, because we’ll collectively lose more opportunities to attract good talents and gain the trust of brands if we tolerate predatorial and hostile behavior. Everyone should be responsible for each other to create a safe environment for all.

Anna Chua-Norbert is the group chief culture officer of DDB Group Philippines. Her leadership nurtures and empowers the group’s talents to achieve their utmost potential through purposeful training, a culture of holistic health, and a diverse and inclusive workplace. Anna was one of Asia’s Woman Leaders recognized at this year’s Women Leadership Awards held in Singapore and the first Filipina to be recognized as Diversity Champion in the 2020 Women Leading Change awards. Notably, DDB Group Philippines was recently chosen as the national champion at the UN Women 2022 WEPs Awards for Gender-Responsive Marketplace, having gone above and beyond to integrate gender equality as a strategic part of its business operations.

Women Who Lead is an initiative of PhilWEN.

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TAGS: LGBT, Sexual Harassment, women empowerment
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