By Sharon G. Dayoan
IN TODAY’s dynamic and interconnected business landscape, the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) cannot be overstated. Companies that prioritize DEI initiatives reap numerous benefits, from outperforming their competitors and attracting top talent to fostering a culture of creativity and collaboration. Beyond financial gains, DEI also plays a significant role in shaping a company’s reputation, as consumers and investors increasingly seek ethical and socially responsible businesses to support.
But how does DEI really look like in the workplace? In recent years, we have witnessed a remarkable shift in the work environment, particularly in regard to gender representation. As DEI initiatives have gained momentum, more women are breaking through the glass ceiling and taking up positions at the board level. The underrepresentation of women in leadership roles has long been a challenge, but now, progressive companies are actively working toward gender parity and promoting women’s voices in the decision-making process. This shift not only leads to better corporate governance but also sets an inspiring example for future generations, demonstrating that diversity is key to success at all levels of an organization.
Organizations like the NextGen Organization of Women Corporate Directors (NOWCD) in the Philippines, a nonprofit organization that advocates gender diversity on corporate boards and executive positions, play a crucial role in advancing the DEI conversation. As a trustee at NOWCD, we build a community that provides a platform for women leaders in the corporate world to share insights, experiences and best practices with fellow Filipina leaders. More specifically, NOWCD is committed to engage with various stakeholders to advocate board diversity and inclusion, increase membership to build a pipeline of board-ready women directors and develop programs to support the transition of C-level women executives to the B-suite.
Championing DEI in the workplace has been increasingly becoming a focus for large corporations in the Philippines and across the globe. Board leaders should ensure their commitment to DEI, actively communicate their advocacy to their employees and hold themselves accountable in achieving them.
Now more than ever, businesses should integrate DEI practices into their organizational models and policies. Embedding DEI into policy by securing the senior leadership’s commitment and creating a committee dedicated to DEI will drive not only conversations but concrete actions in achieving equity and women empowerment.
By integrating diverse hiring practices, businesses can minimize unconscious bias and ensure fair evaluation among candidates joining the organization. Setting measurable goals in achieving DEI and properly monitoring and reporting its progress can help identify areas for improvement to adjust strategies accordingly.
Offering training as well as mentorship and sponsorship programs anchored on DEI can help raise awareness and break the bias surrounding gender equality. Board leaders should also promote equal policies and benefits to all employees, fostering a culture of inclusion and openness in the workplace.
Another initiative is through Women’s Empowerment Principles, of which KPMG in the Philippines is a signatory. As its chairman and CEO, our firm adopts this set of principles established by UN Women and UN Global Impact in advancing gender equality and women empowerment in the workplace, marketplace and community.
Efforts in pushing forward DEI comes in many forms, and companies are embracing various practices to foster an inclusive environment that celebrates diversity. From actively working to eliminate biases from the hiring process, ensuring that all candidates have an equal opportunity to showcase their skills and potential, to investing in employee training and education, business leaders, together with the government and regulatory bodies, have recognized the value of establishing a culture of care — driving systemic changes and ensuring that fair and inclusive practices are adhered to. Collaboration between the public and private sectors is crucial to accelerate DEI initiatives, leveraging collective efforts for greater impact.
The importance of diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace transcends mere corporate buzzwords; it is the key to unlocking the full potential of businesses and individuals alike. The journey will be challenging and will take time, but together, we can effect positive change and pave the way for a stronger and more equitable society.
Sharon G. Dayoan is the chairman and CEO of KPMG in the Philippines.