-Lessons from Dad,
John L. Gokongwei, Jr.
by Lance Gokongwei
“Pumasok po ako para po kahit papano, makatulong sa mga nangangailangan. Konting bagay pero malaking tulong na ‘yun. Iyon lang naman ang aming maitutulong ko sa kapwa natin.”
— Jenny Indita, cashier.
[I go to work so no matter what, I’m able to help thosewith needs. It’s a small deed on my part, but it goes a long way; it’s my way of helping others.]
In 2020, we executed a comprehensive Business Continuity Plan that prioritized employee safety during the COVID-19 outbreak. For frontliners in essential formats, namely supermarkets, drugstores and convenience stores, they were provided with personal protection equipment, sanitizers, and trained on social distancing measures. Stores and the Head Office also operated on a skeleton workforce, and management adapted work-from-home schemes, primarily for support services, during Enhanced Community Quarantine.
Periodic sanitation and disinfection were also done at all points of contact, and on-site employees were required to submit daily health reports before entering work premises during General Community Quarantine. The Company also informed employees on COVID through the Gokongwei Group COVID Care Program, which shares pertinent information on the virus, its symptoms, and a hotline which gives access to healthcare providers in case they suspect that they may have contracted the disease.
As a matter of policy, we give importance to the health and safety of our employees. We have in place our policy on Stakeholders’ Health, Safety and Welfare, which is publicly available in our corporate website. Under this policy, Robinsons Retail is committed to undertake all reasonable steps to ensure the health, safety and welfare for the best interest of our stakeholders and the communities where we live and work by complying with the provisions of law, industry rules and regulations, standards of independent accreditation bodies where the Company obtained accreditation, and contractual obligations.
Robinsons Retail celebrates inclusivity and valuing the contributions of each employee as part of its organizational culture. We believe that respect for diversity and equal treatment are key in managing a progressive environment for our employees, therefore we do not discriminate based on any characteristic that is considered a human right, such as gender, age, religion, or disability. As of end 2020, we employed over 18,000 individuals from various fields of expertise and backgrounds, with women consisting 70% of the total workforce.
Female representation in Robinsons Retail is apparent across all levels, with several key executive and senior management roles fulfilled by women and with no less than the President & CEO Robina Gokongwei-Pe at the helm of the company. 52 of the 91 executive level positions and 4,598 out of 7,901 managerial and supervisorial roles are likewise held by women.
The professional space in Robinsons Retail is merit-based, and we do our best to recognize the performance of our employees while providing ample opportunities to grow. On October 16, 2020, Robinsons Retail was part of the Forbes’ World’s Best Employers list composed of 750 corporations headquartered in 45 countries. Ranked 236th, RRHI is the hightest placed Filipino company on the list, which also includes Jollibee Foods and the Alliance Global Group.
The 2020 edition of the list was compiled by the US-based financial news publication in partnership with Statista, a German market research firm. To obtain the rankings, they surveyed 160,000 full-time and part-time employees working for multinational companies or at firms with operations in multiple nations or regions. The surveys were conducted from June to July with anonymous participants who were asked to rate their companies based on several criteria, which included the employees’ willingness to recommend their employers to friends and family; their employers’ image, economic footprint, talent development, gender equality, and social responsibility; and their satisfaction with how their employers’ dealt with Covid-19.
Robinsons Retail’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Mylene Kasiban was selected as the 14th ING-FINEX CFO of the Year for 2020. This award is the Philippines’ longest-running and only search that honors outstanding chief financial officers.
The search was first launched in 2006 through a permanent partnership between Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines (FINEX) and ING Bank, N.V., envisioned to “herald a legacy for future generations of Philippine financial leaders”, with awardees selected based on strong evidence of performance and initiative across all four CFO qualities as a Strategist, Catalyst, Steward, and Operator.
FINEX is the premier professional organization for finance executives and decision makers in Philippine business and ING Bank, N.V. is one of world’s largest banks and a leading global financial institution offering banking, insurance, and investment management services.
Mylene was selected based on her career track record as a finance professional, with an in-depth discussion on leading progressive and innovative initiatives in the field. The selection process also outlined how the candidate contributed to achieving their institution’s corporate and sustainability goals.
As RRHI CFO and through working effectively with different departments and business unit heads, Mylene implemented various measures to simplify business processes to take advantage of automation and digitization in place of manual procedures. She is also involved in resource management and negotiations for significant business deals, such as RRHI’s major mergers and acquisitions.
In light of the global COVID-19 pandemic, she played a key role in the Company’s Business Continuity Programs, the launching of e-commerce platforms such as gorobinsons.ph, and implementing necessary austerity measures to ensure financial liquidity.
“I am very proud and honored to receive this award as the second woman CFO of the year, after 12 years. May this award continue to be an inspiration to the women CFOs to keep on doing their best, to be their best authentic self. This award is for Robinsons Retail, a tribute, and my way of honoring our founder, Mr. John Gokongwei and of course to Mr. James Go, Mr. Lance Gokongwei and Ms. Robina. Gokongwei-Pe. They are my inspiration in getting this award. It is a joy going to the office everyday knowing that you can make a difference and your voice can be heard. It is a company that values good governance and sustainability,” said Mylene Kasiban in her acceptance speech at the 14th ING-FINEX CFO of the Year Awarding Ceremony.
In line with fostering an inclusive environment at the workplace, Robinsons Retail has in place provisions in its Code of Conduct where sexual harassment in any form is not tolerated, where proven cases are subject to immediate dismissal. It is important to us to provide a safe space for all of our employees, especially since the majority of our workforce are women. We understand the need to not only be inclusive, but acknowledge the vulnerabilities faced by different sectors. We seek to provide avenues that genuinely empower them, both among our employees and customers.
As part of our branding and process in developing marketing campaigns, our formats take into account the optics of the final output and make sure that it is free from gender biases against women or the LGBTQ+ community. We believe that sensitivity is important in crafting the messages we share in our advertisements and promotions, especially since many of our products are marketed specifically to women. In our community engagement projects, we have also worked with various partners that celebrate and empower women. Robinsons Supermarket’s Wellness Moms specifically builds an online community among mothers, which allows avenues for learning and awareness on products that are able to address their needs.
Social involvement in the private sector became especially relevant and visible in 2020. We continued to show our commitment to communities by doing what we can to provide aid in times of crisis, and helped to build back communities through our corporate social responsibility initiatives.
For many of our projects on disaster-response, we worked closely with the Gokongwei Brothers Foundation, which is heavily involved in organizing the Gokongwei Group’s philanthropic efforts. We collaborated with various local government units, vendor partners, and civil society organizations to serve as the crucial links for us to reach our beneficiaries. Led by our Marketing Teams, our employees also contribute meaningfully as volunteers, providing much needed manpower in the consolidation of donations and transporting them to their final destination.
The first of many natural disasters occurred early in the year, from January 12 to 26, 2020, the major eruption of Taal, one of the country’s most active volcanoes, which affected vast areas of Luzon. We acted quickly to ensure the safety of our employees while operations were temporarily in severely affected areas and reiterated messages from the Department of Health on the wearing of proper masks if exposed to volcanic ash. We organized donation drives to families affected by the eruption, which included various grocery items such as water, rice, canned goods, medicines and toiletries to the hundreds of families in the evacuation centers.
As strict lockdowns were declared and we saw the daunting rise in the number of COVID-19 cases, it became clear that the health sector was experiencing significant strain both in terms of resources and morale. One major challenge was the shortage of personal protective equipment or PPEs and supplies for sanitation and disinfection, and we saw an opportunity to leverage on our supply chain and logistics capabilities to aid health workers and hospitals.
Addressing the concern of PPE shortages, in coordination with the Gokongwei Brothers Foundation, TGP, The Marketplace, Shopwise sourced of medical supplies and their immediate delivery to 32 local hospitals.
Ministop donated packs of Uncle John’s Fried Chicken to hospitals and in collaboration with partner suppliers, The Marketplace initiated the Breakfast Festival and celebrated the International Coffee Day, bringing healthy meals and coffee to hospital workers.
Robinsons Supermarket’s ongoing commitments with its partner NGOs were strengthened as vulnerable sectors needed more help in the pandemic. Beneficiaries included mothers and children, senior citizens, and local farmers.
Working with the Ateneo Center for Educational Development, Robinsons Supermarket launched the Wellness Moms Program. Envisioned to aid and build a community of young mothers by providing food assistance and education. The program currently serves 100 mothers, whose babies are monitored during their first 1,000 days to ensure that they receive proper nutrition.
Robinsons Supermarket supported local communities by lending trucks to the Ateneo de Manila University to deliver much-needed relief goods to beneficiary communities in Novaliches and Caloocan. Most recently, they also helped pick-up 10 tons of squash from local farmers of Sitio, Nueva Ecija. These were being sold at Php5.00/kilo and were bought by the partner university to distribute to their sponsored communities.
Handyman Do it Best and Herco Trading launched relief efforts in Legaspi City, Albay and Virac, Catanduanes for communities affected by Super Typhoon Rolly (International Name: Typhoon Goni), which made landfall in the Philippines on November 2, 2020.
With local non-profit partners St. Agnes Academy Alumni Association and the Social Action Center of Diocese of Legazpi in Albay, and the Ando Cua Foundation of in the Municipality of Virac, donations to were distributed to affected families on December 11 and 12, 2020. Donated items consisted of food items, cleaning materials, and Greenfield construction tools and hand tools.
Southstar Drug’s “We Care A Little More” motto is anchored on its mission to provide quality medicine to its customers, but it is also what drives its ongoing projects to give back to communities in need.
From November 11, 2020 to February 4, 2021, Southstar Drug’s most recent run of outreach projects came in the form of donations for the Christmas season, as well as aid to families still recovering from the devastation of last year’s major typhoons, Rolly and Ulysses. Beneficiaries were provided with basic necessities in Tuguegarao, Camarines Sur, Albay, Pasig, Marikina, Batangas, Cavite, Rizal, Pampanga, Davao, and Cebu, along with typhoon-affected employees in the Bicol Region, Metro Manila, Central Luzon, and CALABARZON.
Southstar Drug’s corporate social responsibility programs rely on the employee volunteerism and close collaboration with partners. The drugstore works with local government units and agencies such as the Department of Education in Central Luzon, as well as civil society organizations such as Bahay Pag-ibig in Pampanga, and Camarines Sur Pharmacist Association and Riders Association Camarines Sur, both in Bicol Region. These partners on the ground were crucial in identifying barangays and beneficiaries most in need, with those recovering from the trauma and economic challenges from natural calamities prioritized for engagement, as well as children and senior citizens from low income families.
True to its tagline, “All Passion, All Pets”, Pet Lovers Centre Philippines showed its support to various organizations during the pandemic and amid natural disasters. These partners include Philippine Animal Welfare Society, CARA Welfare Philippines, Hound Haven Philippines, Animal Kingdom Foundation, and Island Rescue Organization. Ensuring that the groups’ rescued and housed animals remain healthy during quarantine, Pet Lovers Centre Philippines donated boxes pet food and treats for the dogs and cats under the care of these groups.