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13 Jun 2011

Google Singapore comes out in support of Pink Dot

Google Singapore has become the first international company to officially support Pink Dot 2011. Fridae speaks with Google's Ann Lavin and finds out how Google Singapore came to support the event, its commitment to workplace diversity and what they really mean when they say "being yourself is a job requirement".

Its banners have appeared at gay pride parades around the world from San Franciso to Dublin to Tel Aviv to Tokyo in recent years. For the first time, Google Singapore will make its first official appearance at Pink Dot on June 18 to demonstrate its commitment to diversity and inclusivity at the workplace.

Over 2,500 people turned up at Pink Dot 2009 (top) and 4,000 in 2010. This year, more than a dozen LGBT (friendly) groups will also have a booth (or a picnic mat) at Pink Dot 2011, Hong Lim Park, 18 Jun, 4.30-6.30pm. For more info, click here.

Pink Dot, which is being organised for the third consecutive year by a 20-member strong committee, is to date the only LGBT-supportive public rally in Singapore. Although gay sex is criminalised in Singapore under section 377A of the Penal Code, thousands are expected to gather at Hong Lim Park to form a human pink dot to show their support of LGBT people and to reaffirm that everyone deserves a right to love, regardless of their sexual orientation. In a statement released last week by Pink Dot, the Singapore subsidiary of the California-based company is sponsoring the event and concert featuring the Dim Sum Dollies, Dave Tan of Electrico, Sebastian Tan as “Broadway Beng”, Jill Marie Thomas, Michaela Therese, Rima S and dance group Voguelicious.

“We are heartened that international players such as Google Singapore are making a clear stand on embracing diversity through their support of Pink Dot 2011. Many in Singapore's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community feel they are unable to be open about their sexuality for fear of discrimination and prejudice. Google Singapore’s support of Pink Dot 2011 and its inclusive values is an important step in promoting a non-discriminatory environment and improving the lives of the Singapore’s LGBT community”, says Pink Dot spokesperson Rebecca Ling.

Google is known to be a supporter of LGBT causes (Watch: 90-second Chrome TV commercial named It Gets Better), workplace diversity (Watch: Google Employees in a It Gets Better YouTube video), and equal treatment of its gay and lesbian employees in the US by adjusting their pay checks to cover the extra costs they must pay should they opt for their partners to receive domestic partner health benefits.

“As a company, we are passionate about diversity and inclusivity at the workplace regardless of race, religion and sexual orientation. Supporting Pink Dot 2011 demonstrates our commitment to these inclusive values. We are proud to be the first international company to officially support Pink Dot 2011 and hope that more will publicly support the development of an open, diverse and inclusive work environment”, said Ann Lavin, Google Southeast Asia’s Head of Policy & Government Affairs.

Ann Lavin tells Fridae about how Google Singapore came to support Pink Dot, its commitment to workplace diversity and Google's LGBT staff who are known as "Gayglers".

æ: How did Google come to support Pink Dot?

Ann: Like many initiatives in Google, the Gayglers (Gay Googlers) started as a grass-roots activity in August 2010 when a small group of Googlers went to the Pink Picnic during the Indignation Pride season. Encouraged by the response and feedback of other Googlers, the group created an official Gayglers group for LGBT Googlers and their friends working in Singapore.

Since then, the Gayglers had organised various activities to promote awareness and discussion of LGBT issues within the company, including inviting the gay comic artist Otto Fong to speak on his experiences of being gay in Singapore, as well as social events for all Googlers. Supporting events like Pink Dot 2011 is reflective of Google Singapore's efforts to create a workplace that embraces diversity and offers equal treatment of all staff, and demonstrates our commitment to these inclusive values.

æ: Aside from Pink Dot, what other causes does Google Singapore support?

Ann: There have been various programs and initiatives that supported all kinds of local and foreign non-profit organisations. For example, we have volunteered at old folks’ homes and community libraries.

However, Pink Dot is the first LGBT non-profit organisation that Google Singapore is supporting. We are proud to be the first international company to officially support Pink Dot 2011, and hope that more will publicly support the development of an open, diverse and inclusive work environment.

æ: What's Google Singapore's diversity policy?

Ann: At Google, we don’t just accept difference – we thrive on it. We celebrate it. And we support it, for the benefit of our employees, our users, our culture and for students interested in the technology industry.

At Google, being yourself is a job requirement. When we encourage Googlers to express themselves, we really mean it. In fact, we count on it. Intellectual curiosity and diverse perspectives drive our policies, our work environment, our perks and our profits.

Diversity is an essential component of the culture at Google. Building diversity and inclusion into the way we operate around the globe continues to be an essential part of our business and our culture as Googlers.

Google celebrates diversity. We aspire to be the best place to work for each and every Googler.The Global Diversity & Talent Inclusion team acts as an internal consulting group on all aspects of diversity and inclusion at Google, and holds the responsibility to ensure that attention to diversity remains at the top of Google's agenda, both in our workplace, and in the communities in which we operate.

Internally, the team partners with employees, employee resource groups (for example, the Gayglers, Hispanic Google Network, Women’s Leadership Community), HR business partners and executives to ensure a culture of diversity and inclusion at Google. Externally, we partner with non-profit organisations to support initiatives designed to increase diversity in the technology industry, and with media partners to build Google's brand as a premier supporter of diversity and inclusion both in our workplace and in our communities around the world.

æ: Does Google Singapore provide benefits for employees in same-sex partnerships as the company would for opposite-sex married employees?

Google Singapore has some benefits which are not available in many other organisations in Singapore. The company offers various benefits to domestic partners of Googlers, regardless of the gender of the partner, including medical, parental and childcare benefits.

æ: Tell us more about Gayglers?

Ann: Gayglers is Google's diversity group for LGBT employees, their friends, and allies. The Gayglers mission is to establish that Google is a top company for members of the LGBT community to work for. Currently, the Singapore office has several openly queer Gayglers that are out to their colleagues. We also have many Googlers that support the various Gayglers events and activities, and some will be attending Pink Dot.

Pink Dot 2011 will be held at Hong Lim Park, 18 Jun, 4.30-6.30pm. For more information visit pinkdotsg.blogspot.com or its Facebook pageFridae has been a proud sponsor and supporter of Pink Dot since its inception in 2009.


Reader's Comments

1. 2011-06-13 22:26  
I am so proud of Google Singapore! Not just for throwing the weight of its brand behind Pink Dot... but for making these inclusive work policies a reality in financial benefits and emotional support for employees. Can I work there now? *Hire me!*
2. 2011-06-14 07:16  
good on u Google for supporting such a worthy cause! (for PLUs at least)
3. 2011-06-14 12:59  
Progress! I believe we will see it in our lifetime - gay marriage and employment rights!!
4. 2011-06-14 16:11  
wonderful news.....go CHROME (what about Microsoft?? Yahoo??)
Comment #5 was deleted by its author on 2011-08-13 17:23
6. 2011-06-14 23:14  
Good to see international support for the event, but I hope they keep and build on the spirit of the thing, which is unique in gay events, and don't become too commercial.
7. 2011-06-15 00:24  
it gets better
8. 2011-06-15 01:19  
Google finally did something right........don't steal our identities please.

I wish I could add, "ha ha" but I can not.
9. 2011-06-15 01:19  
Google finally did something right........don't steal our identities please.

I wish I could add, "ha ha" but I can not.
10. 2011-06-15 09:35  
I like pink color .... hehe
11. 2011-06-15 12:21  
Yeah, up to a point, for as long as it suits the Singapore government. It’s all a load of pandering and posturing, trying to subdue Singapore’s gay community into submission and obedience, only gearing up to strike. Once they see the gay community gaining a little ground, they slap them down again with the proverbial fly swatter. And in the meantime section 377A is still of the law books.
12. 2011-06-15 16:47  
Its fantastic to see a well respected company looking after, and encouraging its gay employees and especially trying to take a step forward for gay Singaporeans. Hopefully more prominant companies and people will do the same and the government will finally repeal its regressive policies.
13. 2011-06-15 21:33  
I'm coming to support!!!
14. 2011-06-18 17:26  
Thank you Google!
15. 2011-06-18 17:27  
Thank you Google!
16. 2011-06-18 17:27  
Thank you Google!

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