Enterprise

Tech brands celebrating Pride month

LGBTQ+ rights are human rights

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This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising, a series of protests widely regarded as the historic event that ignited the gay liberation movement and the first Pride parade in 1970.

A lot of companies are joining in this year’s celebration by changing their logos or selling limited edition merchandise to show their support for the LGBTQ+ community, but being an ally doesn’t stop at plastering a rainbow on everything and using #Pride online for the month of June. Here, we have compiled a list of tech brands who have taken concrete steps in creating equal opportunities for everyone and a more inclusive culture, not just this month but all year round:

Apple

Apple released a new watch band and watch face for the Apple Watch at the Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) this year in celebration of Pride. A portion of its proceeds will be donated to LGBTQ+ advocacy organizations including Encircle, Gender Spectrum, and the National Center for Transgender Equality.

Apart from Pride merch, Apple has long supported inclusion and diversity by hiring and advocating on behalf of underrepresented minorities, including LGBTQ+ people. For this, the company has been receiving a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign’s (HRC) Corporate Equality Index for 16 years now — a benchmarking tool on corporate policies and practices pertinent to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer employees.

Dell

 

Since 2002 Dell has been actively participating in and leading initiatives that support the LGBTQ+ community that the HRC’s Corporate Equality Index also deems the company as one of the best places to work for LGBT equality. The company provides healthcare benefits to its LGBTQ+ employees including parental leave, adoption assistance, and gender transition toolkit.

Dell is an active sponsor of Out & Equal Workplace Advocates, a nonprofit organization that partners with Top Fortune 500 companies in building resources and hosting events to help other companies around the globe in achieving lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender workplace equality. This year, Dell also hosted a Pride month training for its Nashville office to help its employees become better allies to the community.

Google

June 4 Google Doodle is a celebration of 50 years of Pride, created by Doodler Nate Swinehart who says, “working on this Doodle was a very personal project for me. As a member of the LBGTQ+ community, I am very familiar with the struggle of feeling included, accepted, and that I am a ‘part’ of this world.” Google also put up Pride Forever, which aims to preserve LGBTQ+ history for future generations by extending the Stonewall National Monument from its physical location in New York City to a digital experience that anyone can access on pride.google.com.

Apart from programs that support minorities, Google has Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) comprised of LGBT Googlers and their allies called Gayglers, as well as Trans at Google that seeks to ensure that the company’s products and policy stances are inclusive of all gender identities and expressions.

Instagram

Instagram recognizes that many of its users are members of the LGBTQ+ community. To celebrate Pride this year, the platform will display relevant hashtags in a rainbow gradient including #lgbtq, #bornperfect, and #pride2019 for a month. Using the hashtags in Stories will also turn the story ring into rainbow instead of Instagram’s gradient.

Instagram is updating gender options for users as well, “to be more inclusive and reflective of how people self-identify today.” There is also an LGBTQ+ teen guide on online well-being and self-care that Instagram created with The Trevor Project.

Lyft

Like Instagram, Lyft now offers a range of pronoun options to support transgender and non-binary riders. For transitioning drivers, Lyft provides them assistance with changing the name and gender designation on their driver’s license together with the National Center for Transgender Equality. Through its Round Up & Donate feature has donated over $5 million to HRC and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Lyft also has a Gender Inclusion & Affirmation policy created by members of the company’s LGBTQ+ employee resource group, LyftOUT, that lays out comprehensive protections and benefits for its employees.

Microsoft

Later this month Microsoft is releasing a Surface Pro Pride Type Cover designed with and for the LGBTQ+ community, and donating US$ 100,000 to nonprofits in celebration of Pride. For its employees Microsoft has implemented anti-discrimination policies and benefits since 1989. In 1993, they were one of the first companies in the world to offer employee benefits to same-sex partners. Microsoft is also one of the companies that’s received a perfect score from HRC’s Corporate Equality Index.

To quote Microsoft, “we’ve come far in the last 50 years after Stonewall, but we haven’t gone far enough.” In many countries where tech companies operate, being queer is still a crime and LGBTQ+ rights are still not recognized.

It takes more than just hearing voices of the community to make the world more inclusive and non-discriminatory — individual allies and corporations play a big role in amplifying the movement. Let’s celebrate Pride not just by buying rainbow products that donate to a good cause or using hashtags this month, but also by eliminating bias in everything that we do and pushing for equal rights in the workplace and local communities until we no longer have to.

Happy Pride!

Apps

Grab kickstarts growth of digital economy in the Philippines

Here’s how Grab can help small businesses sell more

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For almost a decade, Grab affixed itself as a staple in Filipinos’ lives. The ride-hailing app’s advent revolutionized mobility in the Philippines, making living in the metro relatively convenient.

In 2020, Grab takes things a step further, launching Small Business Booster Program. Moreover, the company partnered with the Department of Agriculture, Department of Tourism, and the Department of Trade and Industry.

Grab is aiming to support local businesses in their transition to a growing digital economy. It seeks to bridge the gap between MSMEs and consumers relying on digital-based services. Furthermore, it kickstarted initiatives that are accessible to small business owners — particularly mom-and-pops or independent, family-owned businesses.

Transitioning to digital services

“Small, independent businesses are the backbone of our economy,” according to Grab Philippines Brian Cu.

Believing that supporting government initiatives will help these businesses rejuvenate the economy amid the pandemic, the Small Business Booster Program strives to provide digital support to businesses, such as GrabMerchant.

This all-in-one platform helps business owners augment their customer base efficiently. Some features include Insights — providing analytics to a merchant’s sales, marketing campaigns, and its customers’ profile and buying behavior.

There’s also an ads creation tool, which allows merchant-partners to create their own advertisements and track performance in Grab’s platform.

GrabMerchant is available to existing Grab merchant-partners as an app. A web portal is already in the works, which will roll out by the end of August 2020. Currently, there are over 78,000 merchant-partners onboarded in the Grab app across Southeast Asia.

In the Philippines, Grab recorded almost 12,000 merchants between March and June 2020, with small businesses seeing at least 57 percent growth in their online revenues. Interested merchants can sign up through this link.

Photo by Grab Philippines

Free, personalized ads

Aside from GrabMerchant’s Ads creation tool, Grab is committed to supporting Filipino merchants with advertising solutions. Most merchant-partners saw up to 300 percent return on ad spend, after placing an ad on GrabFood’s homepage.

Through its “Homegrown Heroes” initiative, Grab will create personalized ads for over 1,000 merchant-partners, featuring their businesses for five weeks on the most prominent spaces within the app. Costs and resources required to produce materials will be covered by Grab.

An easy way to receive payments

If you’re a social seller, take advantage of Grab’s Offline to Online (O2O) Merchant Support Program. Businesses with no online presence can set up their online stores, and utilize an integrated GrabPay checkout for virtual payments through a landing page on Grab.com.

Since the lockdown, people turned to social selling for sustenance. However, online selling plies with tricky payment methods. Grab aims to ease purchasing and receiving payments through its Remote GrabPay link solution, where sellers can hand out URLs to their customers.

These links will allow customers to make direct payments from their GrabPay Wallet, which sellers receive easily. Access the service through this link.

Connecting rural entrepreneurs

Grab is also leveraging its leadership in technology and innovation to help expand livelihood opportunities to Filipino farmers across the country.

It has been actively working with local governments in helping traditional ecosystems maintain their presence in a growing digital economy. Together with the Department of Agriculture’s Kadiwa ni Ani at Kita program and the Department of Tourism’s Philippine Harvest Initiative, Grab seeks to create an avenue for Filipino farmers to earn through the Grab platform. More importantly, their fresh produce will be delivered to customers across Metro Manila.

To learn more about Grab’s response in the COVID-19 impact, check their social report, Grab for Good through this link.

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Enterprise

Facebook, to boycotters: ‘You’ll be back’

They won’t change any policies

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Between piling privacy issues and moderation controversies, Facebook is facing a reckoning. The company’s own employees have already started to revolt against Mark Zuckerberg’s stances on current issues. Externally, Zuckerberg is also under fire from its huge slate of advertisers. Since last week, the world’s biggest brands have started pulling out of the platform’s advertising opportunities. The list includes Starbucks, Unilever, Coca-Cola, Microsoft, PlayStation, and counting.

As the boycott gains momentum, the ball is on Zuckerberg’s court. Unfortunately, based on a leaked transcript of an internal meeting obtained by The Information, the Facebook boss has no intentions of taking the boycott seriously.

According to Zuckerberg, Facebook will not change any internal policies or strategies “because of a threat to a small percent of [their] revenue.” He assures the company that the boycotting brands don’t make a dent on their bottom line. True enough, Facebook’s revenue stream relies mostly on advertising, wherein millions of companies post ads on the platform.

Further, Zuckerberg claims that “these advertisers will be back on the platform soon enough.” Though ballsy, his statements echo an odd strategy to downplay the effects of the boycott. If anything, he also plans to meet with boycotting brands to develop a compromise for the situation. Of course, whatever the compromise will be, it won’t change anything substantial in the company’s overall policies.

Whether you believe in Zuckerberg’s braggadocio or not, screaming “you’ll be back” at dissatisfied customers is an ill-advised practice in public relations. As of now, the boycott is still full steam ahead. Only time will tell if more advertisers will join the battle.

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Enterprise

US is calling Huawei, ZTE a national security threat

The odds aren’t in China’s favor

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The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) designated Huawei and ZTE as a national security threat. This doesn’t come as a surprise since the US has been trying to sideline the two Chinese telecom equipment companies for months.

However, with the new designation comes a flood of bad news for the two companies. The action means carriers won’t be able to use money from federal subsidies to buy or maintain equipment from the two companies. While the US has actively tried to reduce its dependence on Huawei or ZTE gear, the latest announcement is an indication of escalation.

FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks said on Tuesday that “untrustworthy equipment” continues to remain a part of US telecom infrastructure. He asked Congress to allocate funding to replace the remaining equipment.

Three state-controlled telecom operators — China Telecom Americas, China Unicom Americas, Pacific Networks Corp, are also on the grinding block. FCC is considering termination of its authorization to operate.

Huawei is combatting issues on multiple fronts at the moment. The US has lobbied allied countries to avoid Huawei or ZTE technology. Furthermore, Huawei is barred from transacting with American counterparts like Google. Its consumer smartphone division has come to a startling halt since the phones can’t run the full capabilities of Android via Google Mobile Services.

ZTE too has been out of luck. In 2018, US President Donald Trump had said that of the two vendors, ZTE could continue trading after paying a fine of US$ 1.3 billion, and providing “high-level security guarantees.” However, the latest designation again puts the company in an impossible spot.

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