Advancing gender parity in workplaces of all sizes



Through Brontë H. Lacsamana

Businesses of all sizes can and should contribute to gender initiatives. “Too often, SMEs [small and medium enterprises] are “afraid” of broader advocacy for gender equality because of the scale of finance, logistics and strategic planning associated with it. In our observation, these pleas don’t need to be complex, ”said Ma. Aurora“ Boots ”D. Geotina-Garcia, co-chair of the Philippine Business Coalition for Women Empowerment (PBCWE), via email.

The annual Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEP) Awards, organized by the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) in Asia-Pacific, accepts nominations for the 2021 competition and invites companies of all sizes to be signatories.

There are 51 Philippines-based WEP-based signatories to date, with eight of them having 10 or fewer employees. Twelve have 11 to 50 employees, including last year’s winner Youth Leadership, the public-private startup platform QBO Innovation Hub.

“The awards have been an incredible opportunity for QBO, a young startup, to network with established organizations that share our vision,” Katrina R. Chan, executive director of the small business, said in a press release. “Achieving this recognition raises our profile around efforts to ensure equal gender representation in technology becomes the norm.

The Gender-inclusive Workplace category in the WEPs Awards, which PBCWE presents with the Australian Initiative Investing in Women (IW), will focus on those with concrete gender efforts, including equal recruitment. and compensation, and promoting women’s career development and leadership.

“We know that improved performance on gender equality is linked to positive business results,” Dr Julia Newton-Howes, CEO of IW, said in a statement. “Recognizing the work that some companies have done to promote gender equality in the workplace will demonstrate the benefits this brings, such as better risk management, greater innovation and increased profitability. “

The goal of this year’s WEPs Awards is to reward companies that persevere towards a more gender-inclusive economic recovery following the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, according to the competition’s press release.

The Philippines is one of the most equal countries in the world, according to the 2021 World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Report, which places the country 17th out of 156 countries.

Meanwhile, the 2021 Women’s Opportunities Index, published in July by digital bank N26, ranked the Philippines 41st out of 100 countries in terms of gender parity in the workplace.

“We are also one of the few countries that has simultaneously closed the gender gap in managerial and professional and technical roles,” said Ms. Geotina-Garcia of PBCWE. “This is an important step for the private sector.

The Female Opportunity Index also showed that the Philippines ranked 37th in terms of women in management. However, based on the pay level and the pay gap, the country ranked 66th, leaving room for improvement in equal pay.

“We still have a lot of work to do,” Ms. Geotina-Garcia said, citing a 2019 study on Women in Leadership Positions conducted by PBCWE and the Makati Business Club which showed that women are more likely to stop working during their childbearing years. “Women tend to take a step back during their childbearing phase, while men are expected to increase their financial support to the family. ”

Accenture’s graduated leave policy in the Philippines was included in the PBCWE 2019 study as an example of corporate best practices in managing gender diversity. The consulting firm introduced 30 days of paternity leave to encourage an equal distribution of responsibilities for couples even before the Philippine extended maternity leave law was passed, which allowed mothers to transfer seven of their 105 days of paid leave to the father of the child.

The study also focused on the situation of women at the managerial level: it found that although 95.1% (103 women surveyed) were confident in their skills, education and leadership potential. , they valued their ability to take on leadership roles less considering a career upgrade or immediate rise to a top position.

More recently, UN Women and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) have documented similar efforts in their 2020 report on business practices that support gender equality in the face of COVID-19. One of them is Filipino Insurance Life’s “Sheroes Program”, which is developing online content advising women on how to maintain their physical, psychological and financial well-being during the pandemic.

Progress towards gender parity, however, was stalled in many economies during the pandemic. “[This is] in part because women are more frequently employed in sectors hardest hit by closures, combined with the added pressures of providing home care, ”said Ms. Geotina-Garcia.

On a larger scale, the area of ​​gender-based investment (GLI) in the country has also been active. Global social enterprise Value for women case study on the Manila Angel Investors Network Inc. (MAIN) showed how the investment group, founded by men, did not start with a gender lens. MAIN has only changed direction and has only been associated with IW for three years.

“I think all Filipino women would invest in more women,” said an anonymous MAIN member for the study, on the topic of women investors, “they would understand that there is a need for this (product) and they would be more empathetic towards the experience of the female entrepreneur.

Like MAIN, businesses and organizations may not deliberately seek to empower women, but end up doing so in their lifetimes.

Take, for example, the solar power company Upgrade Energy Philippines, Inc., a small WEP company that is 70% women, including engineers, 60% of management is also women.

“It wasn’t on purpose initially,” said Ruth Yu-Owen, president of Upgrade Energy and co-founder of the Connected Women tech entrepreneur community, during the WEP Awards 2021 briefing on how women naturally take center stage. “What is he telling us? It just happened because women are equally skilled engineers, managers and leaders in a male dominated industry.

Businesses, corporations and enterprises of all sizes, including subsidiaries of multinationals and their branches, industry associations, stock exchanges and chambers of commerce from eligible countries a very broad and inclusive scope can apply for the WEP Awards.

“WEPs provide a framework for all companies to orient their work towards gender equality, regardless of size, sector, industry or location,” said Ma. Rosalyn G. Mesina, during the session. information this year.

“If you’re sitting on the fence, go ahead,” said Ms. Yu-Owen of Connected Women, “You have nothing to lose and everything to gain, so I strongly encourage everyone to join the WEP awards. and sign the WEP. It makes good business sense to do so.

The WEP 2021 Awards will accept nominations until July 31. The National WEP Awards Ceremonies in the Philippines will be hosted by WeEmpowerAsia in October.

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