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Saturday, March 2, 2024

Wanted: More Women in the Workplace

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Even at an early age, I’ve always considered my mother as the most prominent voice in our family. She has always been vocal about the importance of studying, working hard, and fending for ourselves when needed. But one lesson embedded itself in my mind more than any other. She was always keen on letting my sisters and me know that we should work hard so that our future partners would not be able to dictate how we should live our lives.

There were times when I resented her hard lessons. I’d always thought that no one could live without having to depend on others, at least some of the time. But it was only after I graduated from college that I understood why she insisted on this directive.

I saw how cruel business people can be to women. My male bosses would tell me that they didn’t think I worked as hard as my male co-workers did — not because I didn’t know how to do the job like they did, but because they didn’t get to talk to me often and had “male” conversations with me. Even my female co-workers would say bad things about me because they considered me “too stiff” or too much of a “b*tch.”

As reported by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) and as stated on the National Economic and Development Authority website, the labor force participation rate of women is consistently lower than that of men. In the PSA 2020 report, only 34.5 percent of women participated in the labor force, compared to 54.8 percent of their male counterparts.

I myself have witnessed how their partners forbade some of my female relatives to work and make a career for themselves. They were instead told to stay home and guide their children. In time, I realized that no matter how advanced our technology is or how fast we can solve problems, there will still be societal issues that we turn a blind eye to. No matter how much we deny it, most of us are still products of a patriarchal society and think that the value of work is based on gender.

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The value of work differs for every individual. Some people think of work as nothing more than a means to earn money. But work can contribute to an employee’s self-esteem and provide him or her with an identity (“I am a farmer, a manager, a business owner, etc.”).

One of the major requirements for the MBA subject Lasallian Business Leadership, Ethics, and Corporate Social Responsibility at De La Salle University is a service-learning activity that can help a partner organization address societal dilemmas. Santa Rosa Livelihood Organization Inc. (SLOI) is the partner organization assigned to our class. This non-governmental organization gives stay-at-home mothers the opportunity to learn things outside the comfort of their homes and the responsibilities of their chores. Through the training and skills that SLOI provides, mothers can aspire to be business owners while still performing their marital and parental duties.

After brainstorming, following SLOI’s social media activities, and listening to SLOI’s officers speak about their programs, my group mates and I decided to help them be equipped with more solid credibility and knowledge to reach more women and guide them in their endeavors. Instead of throwing money at a problem, we asked help from the Philippine Society for Talent Development (PSTD), a “network of human resource development (HRD) practitioners and workplace learning and performance (WLP) professionals in the Philippines providing training and communication expertise and solutions to clients in business, government, and nonprofit organizations.” Through a Zoom seminar and a face-to-face workshop over two days, three PSTD resource persons will give about fifteen participants an overview of training and development and teach them presentation dynamics and facilitation skills. This two-day program will happen this week, and my five group mates (two of whom are male) and I are excited to observe how the SLOI officers can better help the stay-at-home mothers become more than partners and mothers.

Based on my own experience and what I have observed in the five companies I have worked with, I know that piles of laundry can block a woman’s journey toward building a career, crying kids, poverty, and a lack of people who believe in her ability, among others.

But my generation of business practitioners sees how things can improve. This week, we will help create identities. And I know that I will make my mother proud.

Mae-Vel Lombos is an MBA freshman at the Ramon V. Del Rosario College of Business of De La Salle University. She wrote this reflection paper for her class on Lasallian Business Leadership, Ethics, and Corporate Social Responsibility. She can be reached at mae-vel_lombos@dlsu.edu.ph.

The views expressed above are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official position of DLSU, its faculty, and its administrators.

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