Gender should not affect hiring, promotion — Filipina executives

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By Patricia B. Mirasol, Reporter

SUCCESS IN the workplace can be achieved by anyone through merit, determination, and having a supportive network, regardless of gender, according to Filipino women executives.

“Merit should be the primary factor. Regardless of gender, the person who is best suited for the role should be the one who is promoted,” said Tatiana Joy C. Cziomer, chief operating officer (CEO) of etaily, a Singapore-based e-commerce company.  

Hiring is not about gender either, according to Kristine Claire E. Ongcangco, founder and CEO of software company Parlon.

“It’s just that there are some roles and industries that are dominated by a specific gender,” she said, citing computer programmers and the beauty industry as examples. 

“A role should not be boxed into a specific gender… We should welcome diversity and not be blinded by stereotypes set by society.” 

According to Grant Thornton International Ltd.’s Women in Business 2022 report, the Philippines is one of the top three countries with the highest number of women leaders in mid-size firms. In 2021, the percentage of female leaders in senior management roles increased to 48% from 39% in 2020.  

On achieving gender parity in boardrooms, Fleurette Navarro, iQor’s senior vice-president for global recruitment and Philippine human resources, said: “The first actions are corporate awareness and monitoring.”

“It is also critical that we monitor compensation and retention parity,” she added.

For Ms. Cziomer, a multifaceted approach can help narrow the gap.   

“To start, companies need to acknowledge and address the systemic barriers that women face in the workplace, such as unconscious bias and a lack of mentorship and leadership opportunities,” she said. 

Possible solutions, she added, include diversity and inclusion programs, mentorship opportunities, and alternate or simultaneous parental leaves until one’s child is three. 

“This type of policy can help alleviate the physical, emotional, and mental workload that often falls primarily on women when it comes to childcare,” said Ms. Cziomer.  

Taking care of one’s family is a valid life decision, said Mona Barredo-Dy of Gigacover, which provides gig workers with access to employment benefits. 

“Companies can be more open and accommodating of career interruptions,” said the sales and acquisitions lead of the Singapore-based fintech company. “Let job candidates use the skills they acquired during those gaps in their resumes for their next position.”  

They said that having a supportive network and being willing to learn were key factors in their career advancement.

“Instead of asking, ‘What’s in it for me?’ say ‘Why not!,’ advised Odezza D. Buenaventura, TELUS International Philippines’ operations senior director and site lead for TELUS House Araneta and TELUS Discovery.  

Ms. Buenaventura said that throughout her career, she was presented with opportunities that pushed her out of her comfort zone, such as managing training, launching an overseas site, and operating a new program.

View yourself as someone who can learn and do as much as anyone can regardless of your gender, culture, and age, the executive of the business process outsourcing company said.  

“I always tell myself that these are opportunities that will not knock on my door all the time. They came knocking on my door during those instances, so I wanted to prove to my bosses that they were right to put their trust on me,” she added. 

Ms. Barredo-Dy likewise talked about the importance of developing skills that foster growth.  

“[At my previous job,] I got to work with different teams, not just in marketing development lead generation,” she said. “I was exposed to end-to-end sales, but I’ve worked also with the marketing and products teams to see where services could be improved.”  

“Knowing that you can actively contribute to the success of your company gives you a sense of fulfillment, and can significantly affect your overall satisfaction with your career,” she added.  

Ms. Ongcangco, a startup founder, highlighted the value of leadership development programs offered by organizations such as She Loves Tech, SoGal Foundation, and QBO’s Startup Pinay.

They help “close the funding gap for women entrepreneurs by giving us access to different mentors, investors, and impactful opportunities.”