Building inclusivity in the workplace


    In today’s highly complex world, the importance of a more inclusive workplace has become increasingly clear. Socioeconomic implications of COVID-19, like loss of jobs, changes in living situations, and diverse family structures that can be disruptive with daily work, can bring about inequities in ways unlike before.

    Organizations such as the United Nations (UN) Women, the World HRD Congress, and Stars of the Industry Group have recognized companies that build a safe and supportive workplace culture, which ensures fairness, respect, value and belonging, and confidence for employees.

    One of the companies recently recognized by these organizations is global life insurer Manulife. The company’s innovation for talent management and organizational culture was honored at the 2020 Best Employer Brands. The UN Women 2020 Asia-Pacific Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs) Awards also recently lauded Manulife Philippines’ gender-inclusivity efforts.

    Manulife Philippines’ leading ladies shared their insights to inspire fresh graduates and young women to take charge of their lives and careers. What does it take for women to succeed in their careers? What does it mean to be an empowered Filipina?

    In her years of experience doing corporate counseling and commercial practice, including formerly leading a universal bank’s legal services group, Atty. Fritzie Tangkia-Fabricante, Chief Legal and Compliance Officer (CLCO); fondly related that empowering team members to express their thoughts and share their ideas is at the core of building an inclusive workplace. “Every opinion matters in coming up with a holistic solution, regardless of background.”

    This is echoed by CMO Melissa Henson, who emphasized the importance of diversity of thought, because this offers opportunities to learn from each other and grow more together. “A growth mindset enables organizations to thrive in today’s rapidly changing business environment, and requires welcoming possibilities and ideas that may be different from what we know. Diversity, and the inclusiveness that fosters it, allows that.”

    For CHRO Anna Villamor, knowing that the company puts a high premium on diversity, equity, and inclusion is a great push when hiring and developing talent, because an inclusive workplace requires a holistic approach.

    CFO Candy Suarez’s also seen how the life insurance industry has evolved, and how her job contributes to the financial well-being of the customers it serves. “There is great fulfillment in working in the life insurance industry and definitely much to gain. Fortunately, in Manulife, there is a conscious decision to empower women and help them advance in their careers,” she shared.

    Manulife Asset Management Trust Corporation (MAMTC) President and CEO Aira Gaspar also shared the incredible sense of fulfilment in her role. She started her career handling Philippine-based investment portfolios, and has since progressed to managing global asset classes.

    “Young women can build a rewarding career in investment management.  As they develop their knowledge and skills in understanding how financial markets work and the factors that drive the movement of asset prices, they will find that investment management can be a fulfilling career,” shared Gaspar.

    Gender diversity among leaders has been proven to accelerate organizational and financial performance, and inevitably, female talent has become more substantial to uphold fairness and equity in the workplace.

    “People find fulfillment in being part of an organization that enables them to realize their sense of purpose,” shared Gaspar. “No one has the monopoly of best ideas, so every member of our team is encouraged to share insights and collaborate with other team members to achieve set goals. This has fostered a culture of taking responsibility to make things happen.”