Advancing gender equality in the Phl

TOP OF MIND - Sharon G. Dayoan - The Philippine Star
Advancing gender equality in the Phl
Individuals cross a rainbow pedestrian lane in Araneta City, Cubao on May 31, 2023.
STAR / Michael Varcas

Gender equality and diversity in business leadership have been significant focal points in the business industry, reflecting a global discourse on diversity, inclusion, and equality (DEI). The 2023 Global Female Leaders Outlook (GFLO) survey by KPMG not only reinforces the importance of these discussions, but also challenges prevailing assumptions about gender dynamics in the workplace.

The DEI narrative on the global stage

Contrary to some assumptions, the pandemic has not hampered the strides made in diversity and inclusion. According to 52 percent of participants, the progress in these areas remained steady even during the pandemic period. This steadfast commitment is mirrored by the confidence displayed by 75 percent of respondents who expect further progress in the coming years. Moreover, 77 percent of surveyed top female managers believe that gender equality in the boardroom will be a reality in 15 years or sooner. The significance of this milestone cannot be overstated, as 75 percent of participants emphasized that achieving gender equality at the C-level is paramount for a company’s growth objectives. These figures underscore the resolute determination of women leaders to bridge the gender gap in the upper echelons of corporate leadership.

However, the journey toward equality is not without its challenges. Disturbingly, 64 percent of respondents reported facing stereotypes and prejudices in their workplace within the past three years. These experiences, though disheartening, highlight the need for continued efforts to dismantle discriminatory practices. A critical aspect of this journey is the evolution of professional networks. Historically dominated by male counterparts, these networks have shaped hierarchies within the corporate world.

A heartening trend emerges when considering the next generation of female leaders. In the survey, 63 percent of top managers indicated that a woman will succeed them, showcasing a growing trend of nurturing and empowering future women leaders. While this marks progress, it also serves as a reminder that sustained efforts are necessary to ensure that these trends translate into enduring change within corporate hierarchies.

Fueling gender equality in Phl leadership

In the dynamic landscape of the Philippines, where progress and tradition often dance in a delicate balance, the resilience of diversity and inclusion efforts amidst the pandemic is nothing short of inspiring.

In recent years, the country has made notable strides toward gender equality, marked by an increasing presence of women in prominent roles across both the public and private sectors. According to the 2022 Global Gender Gap Index report by the World Economic Forum, the Philippines achieved the 19th position out of 146 countries. While this is a slight drop of two places compared to the previous year, the country still retains its status as one of the most gender-equal nations in Asia. However, there’s still room for improvement, especially when it comes to closing the gender pay gap and ensuring that women have equal opportunities for leadership roles. According to a study made by the Institute of Corporate Directors, in 2020, only 17.9 percent of board seats across publicly listed companies are occupied by women. As the nation strives for progress, addressing the gender pay gap and enhancing opportunities for women in leadership roles remains imperative.

Another significant finding from the survey is the importance of building and nurturing alliances, something that also holds true in the context of the Philippine business community. Here, professional networks play a crucial role in propelling careers, emphasizing the need to support and facilitate women’s networks. Such networks can act as a counterbalance to the existing “old boys club” culture that still lingers in some sectors.

Organizations like the Filipina CEO Circle (FCC) and the NextGen Organization of Women Corporate Directors (NOWCD), both of which I am a proud member, have been instrumental in creating spaces where women’s networks flourish. These platforms provide a supportive environment where women can connect, share experiences and empower each other in their career journeys. Initiatives by both FCC and NOWCD align perfectly with the study’s findings, emphasizing the critical role of networks in achieving gender equality in leadership roles. By actively participating in such networks, Filipino women can gain access to valuable mentorship, guidance, and opportunities for growth, further contributing to the nation’s progress in fostering diverse and inclusive leadership.

Recommendations for action

To harness these insights and drive progress in gender equality and female leadership in the Philippines, we can consider the following recommendations:

1. Strengthen anti-discrimination laws: Advocate for stronger anti-discrimination laws and policies that protect women’s rights in the workplace.

2. Promote women’s networks: Encourage the formation and growth of women’s professional networks to provide support, mentorship and career opportunities.

3. Leadership development: Invest in leadership development programs that focus on strategic thinking and leadership skills to prepare women for top leadership roles.

4. Retention strategies: Develop strategies to retain talent within organizations, reducing the need for women to frequently change employers for career advancement.

5. Corporate responsibility: Encourage companies to take responsibility for promoting diversity and inclusion in leadership roles.

6. Education and awareness: Continue educating the public and raising awareness about the importance of gender equality in leadership.

The findings from this global study are a call to action for organizations in the Philippines to accelerate efforts towards gender equality in leadership positions. It is a reminder that progress is possible, but it requires concerted and sustained efforts from all sectors of society.

In the midst of this conversation, it is essential to acknowledge the mental load that women bear as they navigate their careers and strive for equality, particularly those in leadership positions. Despite the challenges and prejudices they face, the optimism exhibited by women for growth within their own organizations is truly inspiring. The determination of women leaders to bridge the gender gap in corporate leadership positions reflects not only their individual strength, but also their collective drive for progress. The survey’s findings serve as a testament to the strength of women in leadership roles and their ability to juggle the mental load while nurturing the hope for a more equal future.

Achieving gender equality and promoting female leadership are not only ethical imperatives but also essential for our nation’s growth and prosperity. The Philippines has made strides in this direction, but there is more progress to be made. Let us use the insights from this study as a roadmap for advancement, working together to create a more inclusive and equitable future for all.



You may access the full KPMG 2023 Global Female Leaders Outlook survey here: https://kpmg.com/dk/en/home/insights/2023/09/global-female-leaders-outlook-2023.html

Sharon G. Dayoan is the chairman and CEO, and head of people, performance and culture of KPMG in the Philippines (R.G. Manabat & Co.), a Philippine partnership and a member firm of the KPMG global organization of independent member firms affiliated with KPMG International Limited, a private English company limited by guarantee.

For more information, you may reach out to chairman and CEO Sharon G. Dayoan through [email protected], social media or visit www.home.kpmg/ph.

This article is for general information purposes only and should not be considered as professional advice to a specific issue or entity. The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily represent KPMG International or KPMG in the Philippines.

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