At the press conference for "Women Next: Accelerating Tomorrow to Now", Filipina women leaders discussed the actions that need to be made to achieve gender equality in the workplace.
According to the 2016 Global Gender Gap Report by the World Economic Forum, the Philippines is number 1 in gender equality in Asia, and 7th in the world. Sounds great, right?
However, these statistics don’t accurately reflect the reality in the professional realm. Are women making as much money as men? Are senior positions as accessible to them? These were just some of the questions posed at the press conference before the “Women Next: Accelerating Tomorrow to Now” conference at the Marriott Grand Ballroom on November 28, 2017.
According to Cristina Concepcion of BPO International Inc. and the Filipina CEO Circle (FCC), only 7% of the top 1000 companies in the country are headed by female CEOs. And when you take into account those who made it through the ranks through meritocracy (i.e. not a child of the owner), the number is even lower.
Even though more women have joined the workforce, there still aren’t as many women as men in senior positions. According to the World Economic Forum, this gender gap will not close entirely until the year 2186—that’s in 169 years.
In a time when we trade in our iPhones every year for a newer model, 169 years is “an obscene time to wait,” says Maan Hontiveros, CEO of AirAsia Inc. Philippines. This is why companies have to make a conscious effort to address inequalities in the workplace. “It must be driven from the top,” Hontiveros says. “And it must be measured.”
“Our biggest enemies are our own brains,” says Hontiveros. “We’re too self-effacing, self-critical.” Hontiveros went on to say that if a woman is 80% sure of her capabilities, she’ll say that she isn’t ready. Meanwhile, a man who is only 50% capable will leap at the opportunity to prove himself.
Women need to own their careers, Concepcion said. The “trabaho lang naman” (it’s just a job) is prevalent among professional women, which is why companies should implement programs that will push women to want something more. “We need to ask questions that trigger desire,” she said.
“We need to tell women that they must be assertive,” Hontiveros added. “If you’re going to wait to be invited in, it’ll never happen. The change that needs to occur has to happen across the system. The fight isn’t just in corporate, it’s in homes, schools, it’s everywhere.”