In photo: Mazzy Pestano, Marianne Agustin, and Patricia Chloe Chan
Many companies have recognized the benefits of a workplace that champions diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). A diverse workforce inspires creativity and innovation, as multiple perspectives allow teams to see the world differently. Studies have shown that organizations that highlight diversity and inclusion are happier and more productive.
The Philippines, in particular, continues to move in the right direction, ranking second in the Asia Pacific to close the gender gap. According to the 2020 Global Gender Gap Report by the World Economic Forum (WEF), the Philippines has closed 78% of its overall gender gap, while this year’s report showed that the Philippines has achieved gender parity in terms of women’s presence in senior and managerial roles.
However, the same report showed that income and wage gaps continue to persist. Women tend to still earn less even if they hold similar positions as men. While there are a lot of factors to look at why this happens, one way of addressing it is to create a bias-free environment where women will feel more supported and recognized.
With a commitment to creating a more equitable and just society in Asia, HP recognizes the common biases women, especially in the tech industry, have encountered and offers ways to break them:
- Recognize that gender-based stereotypes exist. To promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace, it is important to recognize unconscious bias, acknowledge it, and act on it. Simply put, unconscious bias is a stereotype that people form without them being aware of it. A good example is women’s role in tech.
HP is one with the country’s goal of progressively breaking gender bias. Through various programs, HP ensures equal opportunities for all and provides unwavering support for women. One such program is the Women’s Impact Network (WIN) in the Philippines. The group empowers female employees while also advancing DEI across the whole company. WIN recently welcomed its new officers for the fiscal year 2022, led by its chairperson, Marianne Agustin who also serves as the partner business manager at HP.
“The prior WIN Leadership teams left big shoes for us to fill and we look forward to making a difference to all the WIN members during our term. Specifically, we want to expand the network by cultivating more allies, organizing more knowledge-sharing sessions where we are constantly reminded to operate with a DEI lens, and providing more opportunities for all members and nonmembers to take part in an inclusive culture where everyone is celebrated and empowered to be the future of HP,” she said.
- Set clear DEI commitments. Since the tech field is dominated by men, they are likely to connect better to male candidates, leaving women with fewer roles. A study of research institutions revealed that women only hold one in five top jobs in science, technology, math, and engineering (STEM) globally. It’s even more challenging for mothers whose parenting status is a barrier to advancing their careers.
To address this, there need to be clear directions and concrete policies embedded in companies from the start to exercise being more open, supportive, and proactive in advancing DEI within the workplace as well as driving it from the top. HP’s founders Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard embraced diversity as part of the HP Way because it drives innovation. It is not just fundamental to HP’s culture, but a business imperative. Today, HP has the most diverse board of directors of any Fortune 100 technology company with 31.7% of HP leadership, from directors to even higher roles, are women.
“Working in a tech company can be intimidating. Friends and mentors helped me to be the best version of myself today and not someone that I’m not comfortable pretending to be just to fit in. I’m grateful to HP for consciously and deliberately finding ways to help a working mom like me to love myself, my family, and my career through various activities—from simply showing care and celebrating life with expectant mothers to initiatives that enable us to build confidence, upskill leadership skills, and balance work and personal life,” shared Mazzy Pestano, who aside from being the vice chair at WIN PH, also leads as the Country Category manager for Business PC and Displays at HP.
- Foster a sense of belongingness within teams. According to a report by Catalyst, 45% of women business leaders in the US say it’s difficult for them to speak up in virtual meetings. The report also shares that one in five women say they’ve felt ignored or overlooked by colleagues during video calls.
“Joining the male-dominated tech industry can be very intimidating for some women who are new in the workplace. That’s why I think it is important to choose a company that is consciously advocating for diversity, equity, and inclusion to ensure that you are being valued as a woman and given significant opportunities to grow in your career,” said Patricia Chloe Chan, HP Management Associate and an officer of WIN PH. “Ever since I joined HP, I am always encouraged to speak up, share my ideas, and I’m constantly assured that my voice is always being heard — for that I feel more empowered than ever, especially as a woman in tech.”
When remote work was implemented in 2020, HP teams in PH started their weekly video call session called HP Connect, where they gather to share updates, life stories, and helpful methods to help them cope as they work from home. It sparked new opportunities to have everyone speak their mind and contribute ideas, including even the youngest and the newest members of the team. Recently, HP also introduced the NextGen PH, which aims to provide an inclusive, open, and safe space for all HP employees. It is designed to ensure everyone enjoys equality, whether economic, cultural, societal, or environmental, and enables the purpose to grow stronger every day.
Colleagues, especially men and people in positions of power, are also encouraged to be allies. By just listening when a woman speaks already helps amplify their voice. It is also a good practice to ask women their opinions and allow them to finish their thought if they are interrupted. Another important aspect of allyship is to speak up when they see female colleagues being discriminated against, bullied, or harassed.
- Prepare more women for leadership roles. Leadership is usually associated with perceptions of masculinity. Data, however, shows the opposite. Women leaders outperform and are rated by their colleagues as more competent on almost every dimension of leadership. Companies that have women leaders see greater profits and more satisfied employees.
For Agustin, there is an underlying layer to this because women are also always seen as ‘too emotional’. She said, “Women are perceived to be emotional when making decisions. I have personally experienced this not just in the IT industry but in general. But while business decisions must be made based on facts and without prejudices, a woman’s emotions can’t be a hindrance to this. In fact, it will always be our strength because it guides and keeps us grounded.”
There are many ways to bring women into leadership positions. Aside from WIN PH, HP is making strides to boost female leadership through other localized programs such as the Women in Leadership Lab (WILL) which prepares female employees for management roles, and Catalyst @ HP which accelerates female leadership by monitoring and advancing the careers of women. As of 2020, 37% of participants have been promoted or are currently performing a new role.
Across the workforce, HP conducts training programs, job rotations, and bench planning to make sure women develop their skills and learn new ones.
- Acknowledge that there is more to be done. While there has been significant progress made, WEF also reported that coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has pushed back gender parity, adding 36 years to close the gender gap globally. As a purpose-driven brand, HP recognizes that there’s more work to do and the only way to deliver on its promise to make life better for everyone, everywhere is to fully commit to ending inequality.
Last May, HP has pledged to achieve gender parity in leadership by 2030. By that time, it aims to accomplish the following:
- Achieve 50/50 gender equality in HP leadership by 2030
- Achieve greater than 30% technical women and women in engineering by 2030
- Maintain higher than 90% rating on internal inclusion index for all employee demographics annually
“Accelerating commitment to gender equality within the company and in the industry is par for the course for HP, a business that believes in leading with purpose and the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion. We believe that a diverse workforce is not only a social imperative but a business one,” ends Agustin.
Categories: Business Features