(This week's Business Mentor features a guest columnist, Pacita "Chit" Juan. Born to a family of entrepreneurs, she many has established many start-ups since college days in the University of the Philippines. She also pioneered work in social entrepreneurship through ECHOstore and other sustainability-themed businesses. She was named Ernst & Young Small Business Entrepreneur of the Year in 2003, Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year finalist in 2011 and Go Negosyo Social Entrepreneur Starpreneur Award in 2011.)
The photo shows Chit Juan (the author) with Imelda Ahalul-Dagus and Princess Lalah Sug-Elardo.
MANILA, Philippines - March is International Women’s Month. Why do we need a special month to celebrate women anyway?
They say women are marginalized. They say women do most of the work yet get less income than men doing the same work. Is this true?
Let's take a look at some facts:
1. Women hold the purchasing power. Yes, women make most of the purchase decisions at home. In fact, a car company found out that women usually decided on even choice of cars. This made Renault get women engineers to design a car that also looked at women’s ergonomic requirements and also their needs- bag and stroller space for babies, etc
2. Women bring back most of their earnings to the home. Women will think of their young first and make sure they have food to eat. This makes women bring most of their income home (60% vs. men who only bring home 40%).
3. Women repay loans better than men, globally speaking. However, I was sad to learn that in the Philippines the default rate for women borrowers is higher.
4. Women can multi-task. Women’s brains are wired differently. They can feed the baby while watching their cooking stew, and while talking on the phone. This is why they can do many things all at once. Call it evolutionary biology. Woman evolved into a better person but her brain had to be that of a nurturer while the men became hunter-gatherers.
What do all these have to do with Women’s Month? Because we have to celebrate women’s achievements as mothers, wives, co-workers and as partners. Many men and women take for granted that women deserve to be given equal rights and same choices as men.
So this March, the UN Women will again celebrate the UN Women Empowerment principles: (quoted from the WEP website)
1. Establish high-level corporate leadership for gender equality
2. Treat all women and men fairly at work - respect and support human rights and nondiscrimination
3. Ensure the health, safety and well-being of all women and men workers
4. Promote education, training and professional development for women
5. Implement enterprise development, supply chain and marketing practices that empower women
6. Promote equality through community initiatives and advocacy
7. Measure and publicly report on progress to achieve gender equality.
Why is this important? Because by following and practicing the WEPs, your business will be a good example of women empowerment.
As a business owner, it is vital for us to think not only of our financial profits but our social profits as well. A real sustainable business has multiple profits: FINANCIAL, ENVIRONMENTAL AND SOCIAL.
So for all business owners, it is important to do your part in helping women get ahead in their careers and also in having choices of what to pursue.
How will you get involved?
1. If you are with government, or a government owned and controlled corporation, check your GAD budget. How is it being spent? The COA has rules that this must be spent on Gender and Development.
2. If you are a woman in private business join the Business and Professional Women (Makati) or BPW Makati, which enjoins its members to practice the Women Empowerment Principles.
3. Join Zonta International or Soroptimist International chapters in your community so you can help empower other women.
4. Join your local community farmers association and network with other women.
Did you know that there even is a program called Global Platform for Action on Sourcing from Women Vendors?
It is an initiative by UN Women and the International Trade Centre (based in Geneva) that supports a group called WE Connect (composed of Fortune 500 companies) that provide a certain percentage of Procurement from women-owned and women-led companies?
The Fortune 500 companies like Walmart.com, Pfizer, FedEx, Accenture, IBM to mention a few, buy from WOEs (women-owned enterprises) because of this program.
There is no better time to be a woman business owner than now.
And how do women get to know of all these advantages and opportunities? How do you make yourself a better woman in business?
1. Network. Join organizations as mentioned above. Be a member of business associations or of trade associations.
2. Join international conferences whenever you can. Some of these are the Global Summit of Women, The Women’s Entrepreneur Forum, and the BPW International conferences.
3. Be active in Linked In and make sure your profile is as professional as can be.
4. Join your local chamber of commerce.
5. Join stakeholder meetings sponsored by government agencies.
6. Go back to your school or university and volunteer to mentor. Your school will endorse you as a mentor.
7. Study or learn a new skill every year.
8. Read business stories on the Internet or buy inspirational books.
9. Have an image of your idol. Get a successful businessperson as a benchmark.
10. Never give up. It takes a lot of failures to hit one success.
And most of all help other women as you succeed. If I may quote Madeleine Albright she said “there is a place in hell for women who do not help other women”.
For questions and more information, you may contact Armando "Butz" Bartolome by email: [email protected] or on Twitter (https://twitter.com/philfranguru). His website is www.gmb.com.ph