Monday, May 21, 2018
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Mapping The Future

Reinventing our way in the age of disruption

We now live in the age where the changes in the global and local business environment show no signs of slowing down. This is why it came as no surprise when the incoming Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) Board of Governors has chosen “Competing in the Age of Disruption” as its theme for 2018.

Literature on management characterizes this era as a period of geopolitical instability, the growth of the gig economy, digital disruption, and automation of business processes, among others. Competition has indeed become tougher, and the development of technology is currently at a breakneck speed. It makes perfect sense to think that in order to navigate the era of disruption, businesses will need to draw on a diverse resource of support, ideas, skills, and talent.

In this environment, the questions on the mind of many managers and CEOs are, “Am I ready for the challenges of disruption?” and “How do I equip myself to prepare for such challenges?”

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As we begin the Lunar Year of the Dog, perhaps it is time to think of the changes we must make to respond to such challenges. It is much like setting our New Year’s resolutions. Why not press that reset button and start on a clean slate?

Reinventing yourself

For my female friends and colleagues, why not reinvent yourself?

Women all over the world have been reinventing themselves—and for different reasons. It can be as small as a change in physical appearance, or as drastic as leaving a high-paying job to follow your passion. Some also have it the other way around and others have different motivations and different stories to tell. In fact, after doing a little research, a few interesting stories caught my attention.

I was surprised to find out that Ellen Degeneres used to be a paralegal and an oyster shucker before she became an awarded talk show host. On the other hand, Whoopi Goldberg, famous both as a comedian and a serious actor, used to be a makeup artist in a funeral parlor.

In today’s disruptive environment, there is a growing trend among  professionals, both millennials and “milleniors” alike, to become disruptors themselves.

This brings me back to the panel I moderated  during  the MAP and the Filipino CEO Circle’s Women Next forum, titled, “The Future of Work (Reinventing Yourself and Staying Relevant).

In this specific panel, I sat down with two very dynamic and accomplished women: Emma Imperial, who was a politician’s wife, eventually made a name for herself, and made it big in the real estate industry. Emma now dedicates her time to building solar-powered communities. She shared that the greatest challenge was to stick to what you believe in, but in the end, everything eventually becomes fantastic.

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The other speaker was one  that I would describe as the  embodiment of  the “purpose-driven entrepreneur.” Chit Juan founded Figaro Coffee. Today, she wears multiple hats in the social enterprise scene. She advised the members of the audience to think outside the box, dream about your passion and goals, and get out of your comfort zone. “If you are too comfortable, it might be the opportune time to reinvent yourself,” she added.

I agree that change can be one of the most difficult things to pursue as it comes with risks.  Nonetheless, it may be the right thing to do in the face of the challenges one may face in a disruptive environment. Personal reinvention may take the form of a new career or advocacy, which gives fulfillment and purpose.

Gender equality

Amid this disruptive environment, there have been many discussions and debates about gender pay gaps, and the need to give women equal opportunity in the workplace. It has been bannered in countless news reports and it is now at the forefront of public consciousness.

Large corporations, especially those with a wide sphere of influence, are in the best position to respond to this growing trend and demand  for  greater gender equality in the workplace, with CEOs leading the effort.

As Chair of the Philippine Women’s Economic Network (PhilWEN) and the Governing Council of the Philippine Business Coalition for Women Empowerment (PBCWE), I am proud to share that PBCWE Founding Member Convergys Philippines—with Ivic Mueco, President for Asia-Pacific at the helm—received the Economic Dividends for Gender Equality (EDGE) certification, making it the first member of PBCWE to be certified, and the first BPO company to be certified in the country.

EDGE is the leading global assessment methodology and business certification standard for gender equality. The independent certification follows a rigorous methodology to analyze companies’ current gender equality status and suggest areas for  improvement and development. These are followed through with an action plan to ensure concrete changes in policies and practices.

Through  PBCWE, EDGE was applied in the comprehensive review of Convergys’ policies, practices, and data. This process also included a company-wide survey, participated in by Convergys employees.

Other large and influential businesses can and should follow suit. Promoting gender equality in your workplaces, not only is the right thing to do—it makes good business and economic sense and will benefit your company and ultimately your bottomline,  which is essential for sustainability and survival in this age of disruption.

Constant reinvention

The message I wish to convey is the need to constantly move and improve, whether as individuals or corporations. As the famous saying goes, “If you want something you´ve never had, you must do something you´ve never done.”  We need to change mind-sets, change policies, and commit to adopt concrete steps and long-term changes to ensure inclusivity—where no woman, or man will be left behind.

It is time to get out of that proverbial box. Let’s disrupt, effect change, and reinvent society by breaking glass ceilings and barriers, one gender-equal company at a time.

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