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Creating positive social impacts through ICT innovations

Adrian M. Reodique | May 20, 2016
How can businesses make a profit through ICT innovations while creating a positive social impact?

Another UN Sustainable Development Goal is gender equality and women empowerment. How would you describe the state of women today in the ICT industry? How can businesses boost women empowerment?

The Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) industries have long been exposed for its unimpressive record on gender equality. It's so tempting to attribute the paucity of women in STEM simply to pipeline problems or personal choices. But if organisations are truly interested in retaining and advancing women, they will approach the issue of gender bias the same way they do with other business issues: develop objective metrics and hold themselves to meeting them.

Although achieving gender equality can't be done overnight, what we can do is dedicate ourselves to changing the norms and stereotypes that inhibit women from tapping into their true potential. When it comes to gender equality, we all have to work together - schools, governments, society and businesses.

As an organisation, SAP is committed to driving gender parity and we are doing well in this space. In Asia Pacific Japan, SAP has increased the percentage of women in the workforce from 22% in 2013 to 25% in 2015. More than half people in our Philippines office are female. Accessibility to education has greatly improved and provides upward mobility for both male and female employees in the country.

However, one caution is that, while it is essential to create a women-friendly workplace to attract women to the industry, it is equally important to look beyond "mommy-policies". Focusing purely on maternity leave and mom-specific perks alone promotes the idea that women are exclusively responsible for childcare. At SAP, what worked best is to think of strong family - not just "maternity" - policies.

More importantly, at SAP, we believe in the overall diversity in the workplace - not just having more female representation. We are confident that diversity promotes innovations, more "out-of-the-box" thinking and improved collaboration.  One such initiative this has spawned at SAP is to provide opportunities for people within the autistic spectra.

Overall, what is the role of technology in creating a peaceful nation?

I would take a step back and reflect on what drives peace.  National peace is driven by strong families, stable employment and good governance among others. The Philippines is well on its way to achieve all of these. Technology will only propel the nation further. 

The digital economy will create even more jobs for the Philippines, not only at home but across the region.  In fact, the Philippines has been forecasted as the next ICT Powerhouse in ASEAN. Last year, the ICT outsourcing sector alone earned over US$15 billion. The target for 2016 is to earn US$25 billion and hire over 1.3 million people.


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