Culture and Nation-Building: Industry Perspectives on Gender Equality
April 4, 2022
In celebration of Leader’s Month, The IT and Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP) held a webinar on March 21, 2022, titled “Gender Equality Today for a Sustainable Tomorrow”. The webinar featured prominent women in the IT-BPM and creative industries with Pointwest’s Senior Advisor and Board Director, Ma. Cristina “Beng” Coronel as a fireside chat speaker.
Ahyee Campos, the IBPAP Board Trustee & CCAP Board Director, delivered the welcome remarks. In her message, she acknowledged that gender equality is a human right but we are faced with a persistent gap in accessing opportunities and decision-making powers between women and men. Campos said that by empowering women, they can contribute to the health and productivity of their families, societies, and countries, and create a ripple effect that benefits everyone.
The keynote presentation was delivered by the Program Manager of WeEmpowerAsia at the UN Women China, Jialei Lin. She mentioned that according to the World Economic Forum, gender gaps are likely in sectors that require disruptive technical skills such as Cloud Computing, Engineering, and Data and AI. Lin also quoted a McKinsey Global Institute study saying that gender equality boosts the GDP of Southeast Asia by $4.5 trillion a year by 2025. The study also states that companies with inclusive cultures have 22% lower turnover rates, 22% greater productivity, 27% higher profitability, and 39% higher customer satisfaction.
Industry leaders provided their own perspectives and insights regarding gender equality in the workplace including Don Rae, Senior Advisor for Enterprise Group of Globe Telecom, who provided a counterpoint and said there has been a huge progression in equality and empowerment in the Philippines in the past 20 years. He mentions Globe as a case study where the culture is gender-blind and they select the best person for the job.
“It’s the culture of the company that gets you to the right results,” Rae said. He also stressed the need to work with individual companies and thought leaders in the industry who can influence other companies to follow suit to make sustainable change in terms of promoting gender equality in the workplace.
Other industry leaders who gave their takes on the keynote message were Kaye Bondoc-Dela Cruz, Corporate Relationship Management Head of PLDT Enterprise, and Celeste Ilagan, Chief Policy & Regulatory Affairs Officer of IBPAP. A series of conversations followed this among industry practitioners of women’s stories and experiences in the various industries they belong to. Among those who shared were Vina Vicente of B&V People Business Co., Haidee Enriquez of Microsourcing and BEEPO, Natalie Lim-Ang of P&G, Grace Dimaranan of Top Peg Animation, Alexis Gerogna of GameOps, and Maria Roma Perez of the FEU Institute of Technology.
Industry stalwart Jonathan De Luzuriaga and Pointwest’s Beng Coronel had a fireside chat encouraging women to join highly specialized and technical careers. Coronel related her life journey from her college years stating there was gender bias for chemical engineer jobs for women in those years. She also said that women see education as a path for advancement citing data from CHED’s website that as of 2017, there were more women enrollees for both STEM and non-STEM courses at 55%. There were also more women graduates at 59% compared to men and there were more women pursuing higher education at 67%. For STEM courses, however, only 35% of women enroll in them. She postulated that the reason for this is the implicit stereotyping on STEM courses and women tend to shy away from it. She also mentioned that we need more women influencers and role models for these fields to create more awareness and encourage other women to pursue these courses and convey the message that you can be a successful leader in these industries even if you are a woman.
Coronel mentioned that there is parity between men and women in Pointwest, whether they are designers, architects, testers, project managers, or QAs. According to her, any job that you give to a woman, she can do it, and she can do it well. It’s not a matter of a woman doing it, but more of the organization giving out the opportunity to them to fulfill these roles and is proud to say that Pointwest provides equal opportunities for their employees regardless of gender.
When asked by De Luzuriaga if there ever was a time in her life when she doubted herself and her capabilities, Coronel said that the challenge is more of harmonization between her role as a career woman and her role as a mother and wife. To encourage women to study and establish a career in STEM, Coronel said, “There are a lot of opportunities for us… Women who take on STEM courses and establish a career in STEM are part of nation-building and we become more competitive as a nation. STEM is the way to go as we move towards a digital economy.”
To cap off the fireside chat, she offered this practical advice: “Have that learning ability. Learning is the most important skill that you need as you move forward. If you can learn, you can survive.”
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