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76% Women and Working Mothers in Philippines Still Experience Workplace Discrimination

May 16, 2017

Workplace discrimination is still rife in the Philippines, with an alarming 76 percent of female respondents admitting they deal with inequality and prejudice on a daily basis, according to a Monster.com study.

Despite 84 percent of Filipino women believing both men and women have the same opportunities to advance in their careers, 69 percent are planning to look for a new job within the next 12 months. The main reasons for this are financial concerns (40 percent) and needing more flexible working arrangements (17 percent).

But discriminatory behaviour in the office also plays a part in Filipino women’s happiness at work. According to the study, which surveyed over 900 people locally, 39 percent of women believe they were passed over for promotions because of their gender, while 18 percent say they experience things like being “talked down to” by their boss, or being called names such as “bossy” (16 percent).

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Additionally, 17 percent of women have been questioned about their desire to start a family during the interview process, indicating that this is still a factor in many employers’ hiring decisions.

However, it’s not all doom and gloom. Happily, Filipino women reported some of the best flexible working arrangements in all of Southeast Asia, a whopping 68 percent are able to use flexible hours, while 43 percent also have the option to work from home.

This is positive news for mothers, who reported they often feel “held back” in their careers because they made a choice to start a family (29 percent).

“Lack of sufficient support from the workplace sometimes makes it a challenge for women to juggle both work and family commitments. Many still struggle with the physical and financial demands of raising a child, and would prefer support from their employer that can integrate both their needs for childcare and financial compensation,” said Sanjay Modi, Managing Director – Monster.com APAC and Middle East.

“Even for highly qualified women, it can be a challenge to get back into senior roles after a long absence. Apart from employers working towards more flexible and family-friendly policies, we also need women in powerful positions to push for change so employers can incentivize and alter workplace practices that may encourage women to return after childbirth. Over time, this career interruption can have a lasting effect, including fewer opportunities for advancement and a widening gender wage gap.”

“While women have caught up with men with regards to education, gender disparity in the workplace still remains a concern across the region – and discrimination and pressure to perform both at home and at work takes an emotional toll on them. We can’t deny that the popular belief in Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines is still that mothers are the family caregivers, and they are expected to prioritise childcare above everything else,” Modi added.

See: Philippines Shows Spike in Online Hiring Activity in Q1 2017

The cultural importance placed on being the model mother and working within the corporate culture that demands long work hours makes motherhood challenging for women keen on building their careers.

The study highlights the need for more active discussions on gender parity, speaking out at the right time, recognising and removing stereotypes, and bias in relation to family and caring responsibilities is more important than ever.

The biggest concern in today’s times when productivity is low and there’s shortage of skills is the loss in terms of human potential, when these women don’t make it to the top of their fields.

There are organisations that unduly reward long hours and inclination to prioritise jobs over all other aspects of life. This not only hinders career advancement for both women and men in the long run but also fosters an unhealthy work culture. Flexibility and empathy with a keen eye on performance and results holds the key.

“We need an increased focus on developing diversity-friendly management practices and priorities. Sharing timely feedback, mentoring and strong corporate policies are some of the ways to help women and mothers advance their careers,” Modi added.

In a bid to show support and encourage more mothers to re-join the workforce, Monster Philippines recently launched the #SheMakesItWork campaign to raise greater awareness on issues women across Southeast Asia face at work.

Also read: Guidelines Issued for Grant of Performance-Based Bonus for Government Workers in Philippines

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