A foundation of trust

FROM THE STANDS - Domini M. Torrevillas - The Philippine Star

Values are our guiding principles in day-to-day life.

In a modern consumerist society whose cogs seemingly turn only for the promise of more, it can sometimes feel as though there is no room for those who refuse to give in to the shallow temptations of money and power. Nowadays, even a cursory glance at the news will validate the fact that greed is often the underlying reason behind the most loathsome – and equally, the most notable – current events.

Even away from the headlines, there are day-to-day ethical struggles, particularly in the professional space. It’s often a burrowing task to marry your work life, which may exist in a sphere of profit-driven action and power dynamics, with your moral values. Unfortunately, it doesn’t help that those who take shortcuts and compromise their integrity are often financially rewarded.

This is why it was so reassuring for me to hear that there are big companies that are still built on a solid foundation of values.  Elke Santos of Mapfre Insular, explained the topic of “performance versus purpose” in the corporate world. “It doesn’t have to be a ‘versus,’ “she said with a smile. “As many companies are showing – and certainly Mapfre Insular is a prime example – ‘performance with a purpose’ is the most fulfilling strategy. Rather than a trade-off, in fact, the two complement each other.”

The fact that Elke was talking about Mapfre Insular was notable on two fronts: first, the company is a veritable household name in the Philippines; a non-life insurance giant that has withstood the test of time. Accordingly, they know which strategies work, and which ones do not. Secondly, the fact that Mapfre Insular is in the insurance business – one that is notorious for cutthroat behavior within an extremely competitive environment – was even more impressive.

“One of our informal mottos at work is that ‘trust is earned when actions meet words,’” Elke explained. “Because of this, trust is tightly and deliberately linked to our business and financial goals – it inspires our strategic choices, leads us to bigger and better innovation, drives brilliant execution, and compels us to sustain our company’s growth,” she said.

This simple point made me recall the words of a Filipino taipan, who said that in the end, business partnerships are not established by numbers, projections, and charts, but rather by trust. Indeed, if I were choosing someone to insure my property, I would most likely forget about total assets, fund size, and growth rates. I would go with someone that I trust.

Which is not to say, of course, that Mapfre Insular isn’t a financial giant – they surely are. But by framing its financial strength within a border of trust, the company becomes so much more than the sum of its parts. This is an approach that other firms can certainly learn and benefit from.

“A company’s purpose is more meaningful if it comes from the people they serve,” Elke mused. “Thanks to our clients, we have become the country’s most trusted non-life insurance company, so we have to earn that trust every day, and make it grow even more. That’s why we’ve become an innovation leader, and we are at the forefront of client engagement technologies,” she concluded.

The guiding lesson MAPFRE Insular and adaptors to ethical practice in business can teach us is that every aspect of our life and daily actions should be anchored on trust. Even when competitors seem to be taking shortcuts and cheating others for their gain, companies like MAPFRE Insular are a testimony to the fact that these practices are not only unnecessary, but that we can happily find true and lasting success without them.

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Peace advocate Corina Benipayo Mojica forwarded to me the messages of nationalist lawyer Rene Saguisag endorsing the candidacy of Samira Gutoc-Tumawis who is running for the Senate in next year’s election. In the first, he says, “My MABINI compañeros and compañeras: 

Samira Gutoc-Tumawis will help arrest the deterioration of our institutions like the Senate. She’s a Muslim, coming from a minority unfairly vilified and persecuted in our history by foreign invaders and Imperial Christian Manila.

“Gross human rights violations occurred in Marawi last year. Her narrative bespeaks courage.

“On Feb. 7-8, 1974, 20,000 Muslims were massacred in Jolo, which was razed to the ground.

“And Manong Johnny (Ponce-Enrile) dared ask and sniff, along with the Marcoses, what human rights violations? Same question Digong and the military ask now, which Samira and the local Integrated Bar of the Philippines answer.

Attorney Saguisag’s second message is that sent to him by Sen. Leila de Lima from her detention cell. Below is her hand-written letter.

“You may not know Samira Gutoc-Tumawis, but she knows us. You may not be familiar with her face, but she’s the face of the ordinary Filipina.

“Samira first broke into the national consciousness on 22 July 2017, when she valiantly spoke before the joint session of Congress that resolved to extend the martial law in Mindanao. A Maranao and Bangsamoro woman leader, she recounted the stories of abuses suffered by the Bangsamoro people resulting from the Marawi siege and the martial law in Mindanao.

“According to Samira, may 22 bangkay na Muslim na hindi malibing-libing ng 60 araw na. May isang 20-anyos na special child na binuhusan ng mainit na tubig ang kamay habang pinupukpok ng baril. May 26 na mga lalaki na matapos iligtas ay piniringan, pinaghubad at marahas na nag-interrogate. May isang buntis na nakipagsiksikan sa social ward ng ospital na nasaksakan ng gamot nang maraming beses at nagresulta sa kamatayan ng kanyang sanggol.” (There were 22 bodies of dead Muslims which were unburied for 60 days. Hot water was poured on a 20-year-old special child, while its hands were pounded with a gun. Twenty-six men were asked to take off their clothes while they were being interrogated. A pregnant woman tried to squeeze herself into the social ward of a hospital, was injected with medicine several times, resulting in the death of the baby in her womb.)

“Samira’s stories must be told and re-told. At ang kanyang mga kwento ay dapat namang mapakinggan ng bayan at aksyunan ng mga kinauukulan. (The nation must listen to her and act on her stories.)

“Ngunit higit pa sa mga kwento ay ang kwenta ng nagkukwento, si Samira mismo. (More than her stories, Samira’s story is worth telling.)

“Samira represents the deepest aspirations of our people, the dreams and longings of the women, the minorities, and other marginalized and vulnerable groups in our society. She is the face of social justice. She is the strong voice of reason, passion and compassion aching for every one of us to have a seat at the table.

“Dala-dala ni Samira ang lalim at lawak ng pambansang diskurso, ng kinakailangang pagmamalasakit upang tugunan ang pangangailangan ng bawat isa, upang mahanap ang ganap at pangmatagalang solusyon para manumbalik at tumatag ang demokrasya sa Pilipinas at maibangon ang dignidad ng Pilipino. (Samira carries with her the national aspiration for the return of democracy in the country.)

“Pakinggan natin si Samira. Bigyang-puwang natin ang kababaihan at minorya. Si Samira ang kailangan para sa isang Senadong para sa lahat.” (Let’s listen to Samira and her fight for the rights of women and the minorities.)

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Email: dominitorrevillas@gmail.com

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