Women empowerment boosts Phl economy

By Tracy Cabrera

WOMEN are gaining more influence in the corporate boardrooms in the Philippines than in most other places in the world, making the country the third highest employer of senior female executives globally.

Based on a Grant Thornton International Business Report (IBR), four out of 10 senior roles in the Philippines are filled by women, an improvement from last year’s 37 percent and higher than the 24 percent global average.

This boosted the country’s ranking in the global league of countries with the highest proportion of women holding senior posts to third place this 2014 from fifth in the previous year’s ranking.

In this latest survey, the Philippines was just behind Russia (first) as well as Indonesia and Latvia (which tied for second place).


Main attraction

Local trends in women empowerment is one of the main attractions of the Philippines to investors worldwide, according to Asia CEO forum chair Richard Mills.

 “I think it is possible to make the Philippines a first world country, whether it is possible in 20 years or it would take 30 years I’m not quite sure, but yes it is possible. Filipinas, they are young, speak English, are reasonably well-educated, and as long as the government continues doing the good work it’s been doing . . . things will be better,” he pointed out.

Mills stressed that what has impressed investors in the country are women executives who tend to look unflappable and cool.

“Women get a boost of confidence when they look good. It must be the female genes at work. But knowing the struggles they've been through to succeed in a world opens opportunities for advancement for women,” he said.


Human resource

This human resource, if tapped appropriately, he added, would be a key in transforming the Philippines into a ‘first world’ country, along with the implementation of big-ticket infrastructure projects as planned by the government.

Mills likewise underscored the country’s tropical climate and beaches to go to on a weekend as primary attractions to investors. 

“There are also a lot of exciting developments going on in the country like shopping and restaurants—these make the whole country both a business destination and the tourist destination and that’s a very compelling story,” he said.


Women executives

Mills said the Philippines has proven itself to be good in making women chief executives as well as professionals.

“When I bring in people from different countries and you go to an accountant, you meet a female. You go to a law firm and you meet some more women who are going to do your legal work. And if you need to hire some engineers, many of those are women as well,” he said.

Convinced with recent developments, the Asia CEO Awards chairman stressed the need to promote the Philippines and let other countries know that it is great to do business in our country.

Mills recognized anew outstanding companies and business leaders across the different industries in the Philippines for their successful performance in the past years, and more importantly, their contribution to the country’s economic progress.


Gender diversity

An IBR survey conducted last year found that board of directors in the Philippines typically comprised of at least 6 to 7 people, two of whom are women.  This puts the local proportion of women directors at 31 percent or much better than the global average of just 17 percent.

“If you look at the historical data for the Philippines, you can see that generally, there is gender diversity at the top of the business ladder,” said Marivic Españo, chair and CEO of outsourcing services firm Punongbayan & Araullo (P&A). 

“Leadership posts are very much accessible to women here. So I think what we in the business community can do is make sure the road to the top remains open to women, even working mothers who face particular challenges,” Españo added.

The IBR also looked into the roles women play in upper management and found that there are more Filipina CEOs (chief executive officers) – 37 percent this year from 23 percent last year, and COOs (chief operating officers) – to 26 percent from 15 percent. The proportion of Filipina CFOs (chief finance officers) has been steady at 59 percent.


Work arrangement

Globally, only 19 percent of CEOs were women. The most common role for women globally was that of human resource director, at 36 percent.

For the first time, the IBR asked business leaders worldwide what efforts they have put in place to support working mothers. 

The most common practice cited was to offer flexible work arrangements: 63 percent of respondents say they have in place flexi-time or the option to work outside the office. A little over half of respondents – 51 percent – also offer working mothers the opportunity to buy extra vacation leaves or to take unpaid leaves. Only 6 percent offer on-site childcare facilities.

In the Philippines, 60 percent of business leaders offer flexible work arrangements, while 56 percent offer mentoring and coaching, and paid maternity leave beyond what is legally required.

In addition, forty-one percent of Filipinos agree that most women in Philippine society are on equal footing with their male counterparts, based on the survey of Pulse Asia.

In his message for the celebration of the International Women’s Day, President Duterte said women are heroes, adding that the Philippines is fortunate to have outstanding women in various sectors.

The President gave assurances that his administration shall strive to maintain this distinction as well as continue to recognize their invaluable contributions to the country.

He is also determined to deliver the promised change for women and he trusts that the women are up for the challenge of that change. 


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Wednesday, 18 September 2019
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