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Empathic leadership and gender equality are key to a responsive and inclusive recovery– Launch of Male Champions of Change in the Philippines

News Stories /03 August 2020

“Leading with empathy can have a powerful effect on employees and it is particularly important at times such as these,” said His Excellency Steven J. Robinson AO, Australian Ambassador to the Philippines, at the official launch of Male Champions of Change Philippines (MCC PH) on 3 July.

“By understanding and acknowledging the personal and professional challenges that employees and their loved ones are experiencing, leaders will make better decisions during a crisis” the Ambassador added.

The Ambassador, a Champion for MCC Philippines, noted, “Leaders with empathy pay careful attention to how people may be struggling and take corresponding measures to support them.”

The online event, #BuildBackBetter: Leading Resilient Teams towards Responsive and Inclusive Recovery, included a presentation by Liam Buckley, CEO of QBE Insurance (Philippines) on Empathetic and Resilient Leadership, followed by a panel discussion with Aibee Cantos (Former CEO, Philam Life), Jose Paolo Delgado (Managing Director, Delbros Group) and Cesar Romero (CEO, Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corporation) moderated by Makati Business Club Executive Director Coco Alcuaz . The event was attended by Male Champions of Change founder and former Australian Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick who provided welcoming remarks.  PBCWE Co-Chair and PhilWEN Chair Ma. Aurora “Boots” D. Geotina-Garcia; PBCWE Executive Director Julia Abad; Makati Business Club (MBC) Chair Ed Chua; members of MCC PH and other representatives from the Philippine business sector also attended the event.

Male Champions of Change Philippines works with influential leaders to redefine men’s role in addressing gender inequality— by stepping up beside women and driving meaningful action towards the advancement of gender equality in within their organisations and communities. Supported by Investing in Women—an Australian Government initiative—MCC PH is a joint initiative of the Philippine Business Coalition for Women Empowerment (PBCWE), Philippine Women’s Economic Network (PhilWEN) and the Makati Business Club (MBC).

Shifting mindsets and applying a gender lens

The panellists stressed the importance of innovation and inclusion—and of letting go of some traditional mindsets—when dealing with a crisis.

The crisis has brought on changes which have encouraged management teams to analyse their employees’ situation with a gender lens. They have also become more mindful of challenges that work-from-home employees may face, such as access to a safe and secure workspace, sexual harassment and unpaid care work. Flexible work, which wasn’t widely practised prior to COVID-19, is rapidly becoming more accepted.

Gender inclusiveness key to business continuity

Having women in key leadership positions has allowed companies to utilise gender-inclusive insights in making important decisions during the crisis. Some companies have had to downsize and make major changes to operations. They found that gathering feedback from both female and male leaders enabled them to make better business decisions.

Supporting employees with caring roles

The crisis has shed light on realities surrounding employees with caring roles at home, and the importance of supporting them.  More men have been exposed to the challenges of caring responsibilities under the work-from-home arrangements. Companies have found that women leaders are expected to come to work, keep the organisation afloat, and then go home and help their kids with schooling, or possibly assist an elderly parent.

Opportunity to reinvent

Despite the economic fallout resulting from the crisis, the panellists spoke of the opportunity to build back better, given the right resources. Businesses will be playing a major role in economic recovery—this is a chance for business leaders to reinvent by utilising a people-centric, empathic approach in managing their teams and championing transformational changes within their respective organisations. This includes setting gender inclusivity related targets in companies, programs, activities and across industries and sectors.

MCC PH call to action

Drawing the event to a close, PBCWE Co-Chair Boots Garcia said, “The cornerstone of MCC is taking action. So, moving forward, talking about gender equality—advocacy—is one way of expanding the reach of individual commitments, as CEOs presidents and management directors.”

“The most critical area is the ability to demonstrate results as champions. You will play a critical role in changing mindsets and breaking gender stereotypes in society. Now is the time, if not the best time, to invite everyone to be part of the advocacy and be equal partners.”

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