UPS Philippines is celebrating Women’s History Month this March. Since the early days of the company’s 115-year history, women have long been equal contributors to UPS’s success. In the spirit of Women’s History Month, UPS is spotlighting how the company and its partners continue to work toward a common goal of driving greater gender equity and inclusivity.
A nation lifted by women trailblazers
Women have played a significant role in shaping the Philippines’ economy, culture, and society since its founding days. Gabriela Silang, Josefa Llanes Escoda, and Melchora Aquino fought for the country’s independence, the late former President Maria Corazon “Cory” Aquino led the country’s peaceful revolution in 1986, and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Maria Ressa who fearlessly defended freedom of expression in the country.
With a culture that is deeply respectful of women, the Philippines ranked 19th out of 146 countries in the World Economic Forum’s 2022 Global Gender Gap Index, stripping past many nations in the East Asia and Pacific region. Filipinas’ road to achieve equality has indeed gone a long way with the passage of the Magna Carta of Women, a law which seeks to eliminate discrimination while supporting the rights of women.
Representation in manufacturing and logistics industry
Filipino women today actively participate in traditionally male-dominated industries including manufacturing and logistics. The consciousness on equality and inclusivity ushered in positive changes in business leadership.
“Having more women in manufacturing and logistics brings diverse perspectives and ideas to the table, which can lead to more innovative solutions to business problems,” said Russell Reed, managing director of UPS Philippines and Thailand.
Reed said UPS has actively built an inclusive workplace where employees have equal opportunities to contribute and succeed. The company’s values are rooted in equity and inclusion that thrives inside and outside its walls. Female employees are encouraged to participate in leadership development, mentorship, and networking opportunities internally, to empower them for growth.
Partnering with like-minded businesses
UPS partners with manufacturers like Teradyne Philippines, LHK Creation, Inc., and Gameville Corporation who advocate gender equity.
In 2020, testing equipment maker Teradyne launched Women In Teradyne (WIT), a program aimed at better understanding the value of increasing women representation in its workforce. Jacqueline Briones, an executive at Teradyne, took part in the WIT training and went on to formulate programs aimed at nurturing a more diverse workforce.
Moreover, Briones, who serves as worldwide parts service operations director and Philippines site director for Teradyne, also established a diversity, equality and inclusion program in Cebu. One of the program’s focus is to increase the proportion of women employees, including in leadership roles, from 30% to 35% in two years.
LHK Creation, Inc., a garment producer for brands like J.Crew, Chico’s, Banana Republic and Brooks Brothers, is a business mostly run by women. Women account for 66% of its management and leadership team.
General Manager Fe Y. Abrihan credits the company’s resilience, adaptability, and flexibility to such a workforce mix, which was evidenced when the company withstood challenges brought about by the pandemic that disrupted production in 2020 and 2021 and the Taal volcano eruption in 2020.
With women being a majority in the company and many married with children, LHK established an employees’ grocer that stocks powdered milk, soaps, sugar, cooking oil, rice, and other necessities at wholesale prices. It also set up a fund to provide cash advances at zero interest and with longer payment terms for employees to pay for tuition fees, hospitalization bills, as capital for setting up a small business, or buying a personal vehicle for transportation needs.
Gameville Corporation, a manufacturer of sports uniforms, also pursues equity and inclusion for employees and customers, according to the company’s Finance Officer, Arlene Balagbagan.
Balagbagan stressed that gender doesn’t define a staff’s role in the company. All individuals are encouraged to find opportunities that can help them grow professionally. Through the leadership of Gameville’s empowered female managers, Balagbagan practices an open-door policy culture in the company to build an environment where help can be easily sought.
Journeying to closing the gender gap
While it will take the world another 257 years – according to the World Economic Forum – to achieve economic gender equity, companies like UPS and its partners are continuing to do their part to bridge the gap.
For UPS, equity means creating and sustaining an inclusive world that removes gender stereotypes and discrimination. The Women’s Leadership Development committee organizes activities – financial literacy seminars, donation drives and social gatherings – to promote the growth of female UPS employees.
Beyond the workplace, the company is strengthening its support for women-owned small businesses through The UPS Foundation’s Women Exporters Program (WEP). The WEP has helped nearly 31,000 women exporters globally to overcome free trade barriers through partnerships with government agencies, non-governmental organizations and other stakeholders.
UPS also partnered with The Asian Trade Centre Foundation in 2022 for the Asia Women Exporters’ Mentorship Program, which allows women business owners in Asia to learn digital entrepreneurial skills, and be better equipped to boost their competitiveness and cross-border trade.
The road to gender equity is an ongoing one. The company continues to invest in training, such as unconscious bias training to ensure employees are aware of what biases they may bring to work and how they affect those around them. To date, more than 95% of management employees have completed the training.