The Philippine Business Coalition for Women Empowerment, with the Philippine Women’s Economic Network, Investing in Women, International Finance  Corporation, and McKinsey & Company jointly hosted a forum, “Womenomics and the Future of Work,” on March 17, 2018 at New World Hotel Makati, to share data and initiatives from their recent studies  that support the business case for women’s economic empowerment and offer practical solutions to firms seeking to advance gender equality in the workplace.

An increase in women’s labor force participation or a reduction in labor force gap between men and women contribute positively to economic growth. “The Philippines may be viewed as generally doing well in terms of gender equality, with the Philippines ranking 10th in the World Economic Global Gender Gap report, the reality is women still remain significantly underrepresented in the corporate pipeline,” said PBCWE Co-Chair and PhilWEN Chairperson Ma. Aurora “Boots” D. Geotina-Garcia during the opening of the event.

McKinsey’s report on “The Power of Parity: Advancing Women’s Equality in Asia Pacific” presented a snapshot of women’s participation in the labor force and cements the argument that when more women participate in the labor force, the Philippines could add $40 billion to annual GDP in 2025—7 percent above business as usual.

“The Philippines has already made significant advances towards gender parity, and the next step is to close gender wage gaps, enhance access to finance for entrepreneurship, and to provide women the flexibility and support to balance work and home lives,” said Kristine Romano, Managing Partner at McKinsey & Company.

Focusing on workplace conditions, the International Finance Corporation’s report on “Tackling Childcare: The Business Case for Employer-Supported Childcare” reveals that a key barrier to female labor force participation is the lack of access to childcare. The report also presents how companies can analyze their workforce to identify the type of childcare support they can offer to their employees.

“Equal participation of women and men, is critical to both individual businesses and economies to meet the challenges of the 21st century,” said Amy Luinstra, Program Manager and Gender Advisor, East Asia and the Pacific at IFC. “High quality and accessible childcare is part of the solution.  IFC’s Tackling Childcare report presents the case for businesses to play a role and provides practical guidance to employers in developing the right childcare strategy for their business.”

PBCWE, a business coalition established through a partnership of the Australian Government’s Investing in Women initiative and the Philippine Women’s Economic Network (PhilWEN), bring these issues together by discussing the concrete ways companies can address these gaps through an evidence-based assessment, the Economic Dividends for Gender Equality (EDGE), a global assessment and certification standard designed to help organizations

“Most of the companies we work with already have a good company culture in terms of gender equality,” said Amor Curaming, PBCWE Program Manager. However, most of the time, this only happens by chance, and not by design such as reflected in their human resource policies. “There is a need to review HR policies and ensure that this good company culture is institutionalized,” Curaming added.