Resilience through women’s leadership | Inquirer Opinion
Women who lead

Resilience through women’s leadership

/ 05:01 AM September 04, 2021

It is no surprise that, in terms of economic participation and opportunity, the Philippines is among the 18 countries to have closed at least 80 percent of the gender gap in managerial roles, where women comprise at least 50 percent of the managers, according to a report by the World Economic Forum (2021).

However, the COVID-19 pandemic is seen to have heightened this gender gap in the workplace. An International Labour Organization (2021) report said that 13 million fewer women would be employed in 2021 than in 2019. Men’s employment, on the other hand, would have recovered to the number recorded in 2019. This is also evident in the Asia Pacific region, where women’s employment declined by 3.8 percent compared to just 2.9 percent for men from 2019 to 2020.


But is the COVID-19 crisis really a crisis for women? The pandemic has infiltrated everyone’s private and professional lives, with most women taking on the double burden of coping with work and family. In particular, the closing of schools during lockdowns has negatively impacted women, who now find themselves more involved in the schoolwork of their younger children. In addition, many of the hardest hit industries such as tourism and transportation and health and household services are sectors that typically employ a greater proportion of women, resulting in massive work displacement (UN Women, 2020).

Women business leaders are facing the realities of the situation with a unique perspective. Though the pandemic has adversely affected women, KPMG’s Global Female Leaders Outlook 2020 found that the women executives surveyed are less pessimistic about COVID-19’s impact on women in general. The disruption caused by the pandemic is seen as an accelerator for technology and innovation and could very well be a catalyst for gender diversity. To illustrate, because of digitalization, learning platforms have become more accessible to more women around the world, providing them better education and professional development, thus strengthening their economic power.


We are still living in uncertain times. Leaders must show empathy and compassion to those they work with, recognizing the different circumstances of their employees. In the KPMG Women’s Leadership Summit Report (2021), over 1,300 executive women shared the challenges they faced during the pandemic. Almost all (96 percent) said they changed the way they drove their teams, and most (64 percent) felt there was an increased emphasis on open communication, intentional listening, and fostering inclusive communities.

With the largely hybrid and work-from-home setup, work-life balance has become work-life integration. As a result, there is a need to focus on individual wellness and team inclusivity to cope with the new ways of working.

The major shifts in how we work require leaders to step out of their comfort zones and take on the role of mentors, fostering resilience in their employees and organizations. Having high emotional intelligence, as well as the right mindset and outlook, women leaders are well poised to take on this challenge.


Sharon Dayoan is the chair and CEO of KPMG in the Philippines and the president and cofounder of The Filipina CEO Circle. Advancing women in business and mentoring young women are advocacies close to her heart.


The Filipina CEO Circle is a member organization of PhilWEN.



Women Who Lead is an initiative of the Philippine Women’s Economic Network (PhilWEN).

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TAGS: COVID-19, Filipina CEO Circle, Sharon G. Dayoan, women
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