SSI, VMC, Filinvest, RRHI included in CWDI’s list of top women-led firms

FOUR publicly listed companies in the Philippines have been included in a US-based nonprofit organization’s 2021 report of the top 10 women-led firms in a field of almost 3,000 companies across 55 countries.

Corporate Women Directors International (CWDI) ranked firms “to generate baseline data on women in leadership roles.”

Details of its “Women CEOs: Opening Doors to Boards and C-Suites” report was sent by Filinvest REIT Corp. (FILREIT) via e-mail on Monday.

SSI Group, Inc. was listed first among Philippine firms with women making up 80% of its leadership and management, followed by Victorias Milling Co., Inc. (VMC) with 60%, while both Filinvest Development Corp. (FDC) and Robinsons Retail Holdings, Inc. (RRHI) have women filling up 50% of company leadership roles.

Zenaida R. Tantoco leads SSI Group as its CEO and chairman of the board; Minnie O. Chua is VMC’s board vice-chairman, president, and CEO; Lourdes Josephine Gotianun-Yap is one of FDC’s directors as well as the company’s president and CEO; and Robina Y. Gokongwei-Pe is RRHI’s director, president, and CEO.

“Too few women have reached the CEO level of the largest companies in each country,” CWDI Chair Irene Natividad was quoted as saying.

In its report, CWDI noted that only 143 out of the 2,994 publicly listed companies surveyed have a woman sitting as their chief executive.

“This paltry number accounts for only 4.8% of these companies in the world’s biggest economies. The top leadership role in the most influential companies globally overwhelmingly remains the domain of men,” CWDI said.

CWDI said that firms with a woman sitting as their CEO “tend to have more women board directors,” often ending up with 34.1% of women-held board seats versus the 23.3% for companies with male CEOs.

It also noted that the percentage of women board directors would increase once a woman is appointed as the company CEO.

“The average percentage of women’s board representation prior to a woman being named CEO was 21.9% compared to the current percentage of 34.1%,” CWDI said, adding that firms with female CEOs would also have more female executive officers.

FDC and its other units are also led mostly by women. Property arm Filinvest Land, Inc. (FLI) is also led by Ms. Gotianun-Yap, who sits as director, president, and CEO. Filinvest said women account for 60% of FLI’s leadership.

Meanwhile, FLI-sponsored real estate investment trust (REIT), FILREIT, also has a woman at the helm with Maricel Brion-Lirio as its director, president, and CEO. Other Filinvest firms such as Filinvest Alabang, Inc. and Filinvest Cyberparks, Inc. are also led by women, accounting for 71% and 79% of their respective teams.

“Although knowledge, experience, and technical skills are fundamental to a successful leader, having the emotional soft skills of a woman is a big advantage,” FILREIT’s Ms. Brion-Lirio said.

“Our soft skills include the ability to easily collaborate, having more empathy and emotional quotient, and having to express ourselves more openly,” she added.

Meanwhile, CWDI’s Ms. Natividad noted that although it is known “through dozens of studies” that having women leading companies will lead to a “positive impact on a company’s bottom line” and are also good for all stakeholders, there aren’t enough companies appointing women in CEO roles.

“Clearly, companies need to proactively commit to speeding up the pipeline of women corporate leaders to achieve future growth,” said Ms. Natividad. — Keren Concepcion G. Valmonte