Nine Philippine Companies earn awards from UN Women and the EU for outstanding gender equality practices


By UN Women Asia Pacific

Nine Philippines-based companies championing gender equality and women’s empowerment were recognized at the 2021 Philippines Women Empowerment Principles WEPs Awards by UN Women and the European Union, which distinguish outstanding initiatives and practices that promote gender inclusivity in the business sector. These winners will compete at the regional WEPs Awards in Bangkok on 18th November 2021.

This year’s awardees are a mix of representatives from large companies, small and mid-size businesses, and social enterprises, demonstrating the importance of ensuring gender equality in every sector. The following are the proud champions in each category:

  • Community Engagement and Partnerships – Shell companies in the Philippines
  • Gender-inclusive Workplace – Procter & Gamble Philippines, Inc.
  • Gender-responsive Marketplace – Bayo Manila Inc.
  • Leadership Commitment – Ms. Lynette Ortiz, CEO and President of Standard Chartered Bank
  • Youth Leadership (under 35) – Ms. Cherrie Atilano, CEO and Founding Farmer of AGREA Agricultural System International Inc.
  • Transparency and Reporting – Philippine National Bank
  • SME Community Engagement and Partnerships – EdukasyonPH
  • SME Gender-responsive Marketplace – Villgro Philippines
  • SME Leadership Commitment – Ms. Felicitas Pantoja, Coffee for Peace

During a roundtable forum facilitated by UN Women advocate and broadcast journalist Karen Davila, the winners discussed the importance of placing women at the forefront of solving social issues. Leaders and companies, no matter the size, have important roles to play in promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment.

“We at Standard Chartered Bank believe in equal opportunities for all. Being an inclusive employer and business is fundamental to our strategy and our purpose, ‘Driving commerce and prosperity through our unique diversity’” said Standard Chartered Bank Chief Executive Officer Lynette V. Ortiz.

Lorelei Osial, Shell in the Philippines’s Vice-President for Finance Operations, shared the company’s determination to challenge these stereotypes and broaden perceptions. “The energy sector is often perceived as a male-dominated industry, so it is important that women have career development opportunities and provided with support as they pursue them. At Shell companies in the Philippines, we are proud to share that we have more than achieved the 50-50 ratio as 59 per cent of our employees are female. Meanwhile, the number of women in leadership positions has increased, standing at 39 per cent in 2019 showing local leadership reflects the gender balance we aspire for.”

For Youth Leadership awardee Cherrie Atilano, it is crucial to design with intention ensuring women are always included. “Women are at the frontline of economic and extreme weather impacts and this makes it very important we include women in securing our food system. Investment in women is an investment in the whole community. It demands a lot of nurturing spirit to change the narrative of agriculture and turn it into a sector that will make our country progressive.”

As founder of a company that advocates peace, Felicitas Pantoja of Coffee for Peace believes women have the unique ability to nurture harmonious relationships using the lens of peace. “My journey with people seeking peace in their land prompted me to do something that will be sustainable for peace and our farmers. We want to create a space that provides equal opportunities for women, not only addressing gender issues but also ethnicity issues for indigenous and Bangsamoro women. I can open windows and doors and help amplify their voices.”

Bayo Manila, a company composed of 80 percent women, was one of the local companies that responded to COVID-19 by creating and providing personal protective equipment for healthcare workers at the start of the pandemic. “Our platform champions the values of what women can do to make a significant difference in achieving positive change within our company and the communities that we support. Signing the commitment for the Women Empowerment Principles solidifies our intention to contribute to making a better society,” said Chief Executive Anna Marie Lagon.

Additional highlights are Procter and Gamble’s efforts to provide equal access and opportunity for all to succeed, providing a safe and inclusive environment and enabling all employees to perform at their peak. The Philippine National Bank CEO and President aims to promote gender equality by using a gendered approach when working on projects that aim to improve social inclusion and supporting corporate social responsibility activities promoting gender equality.

The WEPs or Women’s Empowerment Principles were developed by UN Women and UN Global Compact to provide guiding principles for businesses to achieve an equal, inclusive and sustainable future with support from the European Union. This year’s WEPs Awards were supported by Investing in Women, the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and the Philippine Business Coalition for Women Empowerment.

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