Suits The C-Suite

Today, as we celebrate International Women’s Day, we continue to recognize that women’s advancement is an economic imperative for increased prosperity, stronger communities and a key factor in building a better working world. Women all over the globe continue to demonstrate their crucial role in keeping the wheels of society turning, as well as breaking down traditional gender stereotypes.

SGV & Co., as a member firm of EY Global, will be initiating a series of activation campaigns and communications that focus on women empowerment and appreciation in line with an EY global campaign that rallies the advancement of women in the workplace. We wholeheartedly support EY’s timely message that gender equality is not a problem that needs to be solved, but a solution to the most complex challenges faced by businesses and society. The key campaign narrative articulates the vital importance of making sure that #SheBelongs across all levels of an organization and is closely involved in decisions, design and execution of value-creation operations.

In line with our long-standing value of meritocracy, SGV has always recognized the importance of advancing women and institutionalizing gender equality in the workplace. Not only is this part of our environmental, social, and governance (ESG) agenda, but it is also in alignment with our purpose of inclusively nurturing leaders, regardless of gender. Moreover, it is an integral element of our focus on sustainable development, aligning with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs).

This parity-based culture has been embedded in the firm since its earliest years. SGV was one of the earliest Philippine companies to admit a woman into the partnership, Linda Villanueva, in 1961 and one of the first to elect a woman chair and managing partner, Gloria Tan-Climaco, in 1992.

As of the beginning of FY 2020, women comprised 60% of our people, exhibiting a strong gender diversity across the talent pipeline. It is proof that SGV provides the necessary policies and support to foster a secure working environment where women can thrive as they pursue their careers. As of Jan. 1, 2021, the gender statistics within the firm saw women comprising 47% of the leadership and 49% of the partnership. Our dynamic female partners rose through the ranks on their own merit and deliver valuable contributions to the firm. They possess a deep understanding of the career journey for women in SGV and are in the position to mentor more future women leaders in the organization.

As proof of its commitment to close the corporate gender gap and promote diversity and inclusiveness (D&I) in the workplace, SGV was the first EY member firm and the first professional services firm in Southeast Asia to obtain the Economic Dividends for Gender Equality (EDGE) Assess-level certification through the Philippine Business Coalition for Women Empowerment (PBCWE) in 2018. EDGE is the leading global assessment methodology and business certification standard for gender equality. It measures where organizations stand in terms of gender balance across their pipeline, pay equity, effectiveness of policies and practices to ensure equitable career flows, as well as inclusiveness in their culture.

SGV is also an active supporter of various organizations that focus on advancing D&I and gender equality.

The firm celebrates women in its programs, such as when Socorro Ramos, the founder and general manager of National Bookstore became the first woman to win the prestigious Entrepreneur of the Year Philippines (EOYP) in 2004. She was followed by Natividad Cheng, chairperson and CEO of Multiflex RNC Philippines, Inc. (Uratex), who won Entrepreneur of the Year Philippines in 2017. The EOYP program also dedicates a category to recognizing outstanding woman entrepreneurs.

In addition, EY has the Entrepreneurial Winning Women (EWW) program, which identifies ambitious women entrepreneurs from around the world whose businesses show potential to scale. This customized executive leadership program provides them with the resources they need to achieve their full potential. This includes an elite global network of high-growth companies led by women, where participants can expand their knowledge with the latest executive dialogues and research about business practices and strategies.

SGV Senior Adviser, Ambassador Delia D. Albert, is also an exemplary woman leader, with a career that includes being the first female diplomat to serve as Secretary of Foreign Affairs in the Philippines and the ASEAN region. Spurred by her concern for the welfare of the thousands of overseas Filipino women workers, she initiated a resolution to promote and protect these women’s rights at the Geneva Commission on Human Rights in 2004.

SGV & Co. is also a founding member of the PBCWE, which was launched in 2017 through a partnership between the Philippine Women’s Economic Network (PhilWEN) and Investing in Women, an initiative of the Australian government. The coalition is made up of influential businesses that are large employers who will take appropriate steps to improve gender equality in their own workplaces and influence other businesses to become better employers of women. SGV alumna-partner Ma. Aurora D. Geotina-Garcia is the chair of PhilWEN and co-chair of PBCWE.

Celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women around the world allows us to drive discussion around initiatives that accelerate gender equality and promote inclusion. We cannot wait for years to close the economic gender gap, and every small action taken now can make a difference towards positive and meaningful change.

This article is for general information only and is not a substitute for professional advice where the facts and circumstances warrant. The views reflected in this article are the views of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of SGV, the global EY organization or its member firms.


Maria Vivian C. Ruiz is the Vice Chair and Deputy Managing Partner of SGV & Co.