Tackling Gender Discrimination at the Workplace: the case of June vs. Cute Press (SSUP Group)!
From left to right: Lila Al Tamimi (Assistant to Director, Manushya Foundation), Emilie Pradichit (Founder & Director of Manushya Foundation), Thanyaluk ‘June’ Lerttrirak (Transgender Woman Advocate), and Suphamat Phonphra (Community Outreach Coordinator & Digital Security Trainer, Manushya Foundation).
BANGKOK, THAILAND - On September 1st, 2020, Manushya Foundation, along with the Rainbow Sky Association of Thailand (RSAT), was invited to share its expertise on Business and Human Rights (BHR) at a meeting organized by SSUP Group, a Thailand-based beauty and wellness retailer. The meeting was held at Okura Prestige Bangkok to discuss the implications of a gender discrimination case committed by SSUP against Thanyaluk Lerttrirak (June), a transgender woman whose job application to Cute Press - a brand owned by the company - was denied solely on the basis of her gender identity. June was told by the recruitment officer that the position was only opened for cisgender women, contradicting with the company’s public image of an LGBTIQ+ friendly corporation. The incident serves as a reminder of how far Thailand still has to go to achieve equality for LGBTIQ+ individuals, despite being ranked as the second most gay-friendly city in Asia.
Manushya’s emphasis on amplifying the voices of those affected by adverse business conduct encouraged June to tell her story and how she has been impacted by the incident. While accepting the apology presented by the SSUP group, June rejected the job offer presented to her and strongly expressed the negative mental health affects the experience caused and how it made her doubt the validity of her gender identity. It was critical for SSUP Group not to just provide an apology and a job offer to clean their public image, but to also realize the mental health implications gender discrimination can cause on human beings. Having realized the psychological impact of the incident, Ms. Emilie Pradichit (Founder & Director of Manushya Foundation), urged SSUP Group to offer financial support for counseling that should be provided to June, to which the company agreed.
Furthermore, Ms. Pradichit also highlighted SSUP’s corporate responsibility to eliminate future discriminaton cases. She explained the difference between SSUP’s public relations’ activities and a real commitment to respecting human rights throughout their supply chains. She further explained why and how gender discrimination is a human rights violation and called for SSUP to take accountability for their actions, since large companies often deflect responsibility to contracted suppliers. Presenting potential next steps for the company, Ms. Pradichit strongly encouraged SSUP to conduct a human rights impact assessment (HRIA) and abide by the UN Guidelines on Business and Human Rights and the LGBTI Business Standards developed by OHCHR. She also detailed the need for a company-wide training to disseminate information on BHR to employees and suppliers, all of which SSUP confirmed to implement.
Following the conclusion of the meeting, SSUP outlined their future action plan, which included adding a clause on LGBTIQ+ rights into their supplier contract and sending out a survey to gauge their staff’s knowledge on BHR to use it to conduct a LGBTIQ+ and human rights training within the company. As SSUP has publicly announced their commitment to implementing the LGBTI Business Standards, Manushya will continue to monitor SSUP’s commitment as we are dedicated to protecting the rights of LGBTIQ+ people in the workplace.
From right to left: Suda Bootchadee (RSAT Rights & Equality Programme Manager), Emilie Pradichit (Founder & Director of Manushya Foundation), Thanyaluk Lerttrirak, Nalinthon Chuamuengpaan (SSUP Human Resources Senior Manager), Kittinun Daramadhaj (President of Rainbow Sky Association of Thailand), Peechaya Puangpee (SSUP Representative)