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Cigarette giant wants 40% women leaders by 2022


By Chino S. Leyco

Forty percent in the management positions are women by 2022, that’s the ambitious goal set by one of the world’s largest multinational companies in an industry known as not a pink profession.

With the belief that diversity in a company is really critical for business growth, an executive from the well-known cigarette manufacturing firm points out that there already a fundamental shift in women’s attitude where they have stopped playing to win, but started playing not to lose.

In a recent dialogue with Philippine media in Singapore, Stacey Kennedy, Philip Morris International (PMI) president for south and southeast Asia, says it’s important for women to listen to other women, and also women talking with men.
She disclosed a “shocking” reality today as the world approaches “2020 that men and women are not paid equally for equal work.”

“Women earn pennies on the dollar of what men are paid. It’s not fair, and it’s not the best way to attract the top talents in any market,” says the PMI female executive responsible for 15 markets in Asia, including the Philippines.

For this reason, PMI undergone “not an easy process” of certification where it verified a worldwide company practice to pay its male and female employees equally for equal work.

“We attained it globally, we’re the first multinational company to have reached it,” Kennedy says, referring the certification given by EQUAL-SALARY Foundation, an independent and non-profit organization based in Switzerland.

Following the much-coveted certification, she shares “it had a dramatic effect already for us in our ability to attract not only women but men as well.”

“This is about having the best chance of growing our business because in fact a gender gap is a talent gap. Because if we’re only tapping into a certain portion of the population, we’re missing a great deal of big ideas, innovation and the ability to drive our business forward,” says Kennedy.

Currently, PMI management is composed of 35.5 percent women and the company wants to raise that ratio to 40 percent by 2020.

“Women bring color, literally and figuratively, to a sea of white shirts. Women bring different ideas, different strategic lens for being able to tackle solutions and problems. Women bring different leadership styles,” Kennedy says.

“That’s the whole purpose of inclusion and diversity is to be able to include those ideas and voices that represent 60 to 70 percent of the population that are making consumer purchase decisions,” she adds.

Kennedy further explains that for PMI, as a consumer products company, “you better hear what women have to say and the ideas they bring to the table if you want your products to be successful.”

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