When AnyMind Group started operations back in 2016, the company adopted an approach where job performance is the only thing that matters (nationality, gender preference, age, etc., have no bearing). Every single person is evaluated based on how well they perform in their role, while leaving no room for discrimination. This has created a culture that is inclusive, where individuals are respected for their diversity.
Fast-forward to 2023, we wanted to see how this has played out across the company. Coinciding with Pride Month, we reached out to the LGBTQ+ community in AnyMind to understand the challenges they faced, while learning more about their journey in the company and the type of environment they spend a third of their day in.
Before we begin, a point to note is that there are still societies here in Asia where the LGBTQ+ community has challenges. Fortunately, this has started to change in recent years, signifying progress across most of the region.
For this feature, we spoke to a diverse range of individuals who are comfortable sharing openly about their experiences – and because they are in social environments where they can be open about their gender preferences.
Left to right: Pimdarin (Mook), Regional Deputy Head of Legal; Rig, Publisher Engagement Manager; Antonio (Mico), Influencer Marketing Executive.
Left to right: Kirk, Business Development Manager; Korakan (Game), Deputy Head of D2C & E-Commerce Enablement; Dyza, Senior Strategic Planning Manager.
From the get-go: What is conveyed during an interview matters
When a job application is received in AnyMind, only a person’s qualifications and achievements are factored in. Hiring managers do not take into account a person’s gender preferences when evaluating suitability for a job.
Dyza has worked in a variety of roles across digital marketing and e-commerce, and is seen as the “big sister of the team.” She explained: “What I do every day helps in meeting new people and closing new deals! We’re the stagehands to the big show on stage and when we’re out there to present, we do it with all our heart!”
From the moment Siwat Vilassakdanont (Country Manager for the Philippines) interviewed Dyza over two years ago, she felt his sincerity when he shared that there are no politics or discrimination: “Being in a team where the majority of the leads are women and three leads are part of the LGBTQ+ Community, I know I’m in the right place because we’re well represented.”
Kirk, who has more than a decade of experience across advertising, banking, and tech spaces, in both the Philippines and Singapore shared some insight into this: “People here are very accepting. My interview with our country lead never felt awkward when I opened up things beyond what’s written on my resume – who and what I really am.”
Whether what is said in job interviews is really true
Sometimes, a picture painted during interviews can be different from reality. So how does this picture look from the inside?
Rig worked roles across advertising, music and market research and likens his role in AnyMind to being Mr. Krabs from the SpongeBob SquarePants series. He noted: “Ever since I joined, I have been treated as normal as my het (heterosexual) counterparts, also being part of a company that also has a lot of queer representation makes assimilation more comfortable and familiar at the same time.”
Mook, who was an Attorney at a law firm before joining and leading the legal department in AnyMind, shared that gender preference was never an issue in AnyMind. After working in the company for more than four years, they shared that: “I’ve never felt like opportunities are fewer because I am a lesbian who dresses like a man. I feel happy to be in a safe environment where no one can judge me or treat me differently because of my gender. Thank you AnyMind for never treating me differently or judging me on my gender, I am appreciated.”
Kirk echoed the same sentiment: “While some may consider us part of the minority, I have never felt that here. We are treated equally like anybody else. I am an open book, never denied my sexual orientation and have openly communicated this to everyone since day one.” He also opened up that his sexual preference never hindered him to do his job, and is even encouraged to participate in exciting projects that help his professional and personal growth: “I’ve never been labeled and boxed in specific tasks because I’m this and that.”
In an environment that lets individuals be their true selves, Mico, who joined AnyMind fresh out of university, said: “Actually I am very thankful that the people here are very welcoming and accepting. They understand our struggles as part of the LGBTQ+ community and also they encourage us to showcase who we really are without any judgment from them.”
Pride does not stop at tolerance, it starts with acceptance
“Be Open” is a part of AnyMind Group’s five core values (and is often placed first). Employees “embrace diversity, and express thoughts openly while respecting other people’s opinions. Dyza shared: “Practicing to be open and be bold and to achieve together is nothing but automatic already. I can just be myself anytime and yes, opportunities are overflowing! I am a great woman leader, well LGBT leader because others see my potential beyond the whos and the whats of Dyza.” Dyza continued: “In the shadows, people see you as happy and free because that’s what you want them to see – It might take time for acceptance to happen but it should start from yourself. If you’re free and honest with yourself, it’s easier to deal with any challenges, even in the workplace.”
Strength from acceptance
Game, held multiple roles in large organizations and startups prior to spearheading AnyMind’s D2C and e-commerce enablement business in Thailand in 2021. He believes his desire for acceptance has led him to achieve the highs of his career so far: “I believe that everyone’s journey is unique, but the journey of an LGBTQ+ individual like myself in Thailand (a society that is gradually becoming more open and accepting of gender diversity) is often more challenging. We have to strive to be better, excel, and put in more effort than others because we are born into a society where many view us as abnormal. We have to work harder to prove ourselves. I am one of those individuals.”
As Game shared more, we started to understand where his hunger for success, as he said: “I was born into a family where both my parents were civil servants, and they did not accept alternative gender identities. Therefore, I had to be someone who tried harder in academics and other activities to gain acceptance from my family and society. However, I believe that what we as LGBTQ+ individuals desire the most is acceptance from both our families and society, just like any ordinary person.”
Rig also chimed in and shared that: “The moment I accepted my power in my queerness is also the moment I turned my life around in every aspect of it – work, relationships, self-esteem. And this is also applicable to everyone, owning your individuality and your own quirks is the ultimate middle finger to the world. There’s so much beauty in breaking societal binary/homogeny that I wish more people could recognize.”
Fostering inclusivity and equality in the workplace
Our interviewees have some words of advice for those looking to build a culture of inclusivity and equality in the workplace.
For members of the LGBTQ+ community, Mook shared: “Just be who you are and work to the best performance you can give to the company. I believe it will be a win-win situation where the company will value you and be fair to you. Never stop learning and updating yourself, learning is one of the things you have to do for the rest of your life.”
Likewise, Dyza also offered words of encouragement for the community: “I want my fellow co-workers and allies to know that gender or orientation is never a hindrance to do well, to have that leadership position and to help and motivate other people to do better, and of course, be at their best. You have nothing to prove to anyone because the competition is not with others but with yourself. Embrace your worth and spread this positivity within you to others so they will be inspired to do the same. I’m just so happy, grateful and content that I’m part of a company that’s into gender equality, diversity and inclusivity. Thank you AnyMind. Proud to be ‘me’ here in our Philippines team!”
Kirk adds that to create a vibrant workplace that is diverse, equal and inclusive, businesses should: “Let people bloom the way they want to, on who they want to be, regardless of gender. Never limit anyone in showing their full potential. Instead, support and trust them with opportunities they can be proud of. Being part of the community isn’t always rainbows and sunshine, it’s a continuous battle so even the smallest wins really matter for us.”
Kirk continued: “To be honest, nothing grandiose (from the workplace) is needed. Pure acceptance and equal opportunity will be enough. But providing more knowledge about the community may help those who aren’t familiar yet can also help – sessions about gender equality, identification, etc.”
Rig followed that up with: “I think being able to be treated like everyone else and providing equal opportunities for growth and development is enough. In a corporate perspective, I think being able to be openly supportive of the community and their struggles also matters a lot for visibility and confidence of queer employees in the company.”
To wrap things up, Game gave us a macro view on the topic: “I believe that each person has their own perspective, whether they are male, female, or LGBTQ+. We are all human beings and fundamentally equal. Therefore, ‘equality’ is the foundation that every gender should receive.”