Makati, Philippines – November 5, 2020 As COVID-19 continues to impact lives and businesses in the country, Ayala Chairman & CEO Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala called on private companies to reevaluate their role in society and contribute to the country’s recovery. At a livestreamed session earlier today, Zobel de Ayala joined other esteemed members of the business sector at the Management Association of the Philippines’ (MAP) “Convocation for Shared Prosperity”. Here, he delivered remarks on how companies must come together to face a shared adversity and recalibrate businesses so that more Filipinos can benefit from a shared prosperity in a post-COVID world.
“Maybe it had to take a beast like COVID-19 for all of us to understand that we all have to support each other as communities and institutions if we are to rebuild successfully. Our capitalist ecosystem has brought millions out of poverty; and improved the lives of many millions more… Now, more than ever, we have to find ways to expand our traditional definition of who we are responsible for and accountable to – well beyond our shareholders and other providers of capital; well beyond the sole pursuit of profit,” said Zobel de Ayala, noting how the pandemic has pushed many companies to throw out the old ways of working in order to contribute more meaningfully to nation building and help government lead the country to recovery.
Responding to the Filipino’s most urgent needs
Realizing that its businesses are built upon the support of its ecosystem, the Ayala Group (Ayala) has been working non-stop to address the most pressing needs of its employees, partners, and communities since the onset of the pandemic.
In March, Ayala quickly released an emergency response package worth PHP 2.4 billion to cover wages, leave conversions, and loan deferments for employees and contractual workers. Ayala then provided stipends for daily wage earners across the group, and has built dedicated medical facilities where COVID-positive employees and dependents can seek testing, treatment, and quarantine support. As of end-September, Ayala has spent nearly PHP 2.3 billion in financial and logistical support for direct and indirect employees across the group.
For its network of business partners, Ayala Malls has waived PHP 5.6 billion in rent condonation as of end-September. At the same time, BPI, Globe, and Manila Water have collectively allocated PHP 2.18 billion in business ops waivers and free services for customers.
Ayala has been collaborating closely with both the private sector in various projects to meet some of the country’s most urgent needs. Through Project Ugnayan, a food relief program for the most vulnerable urban poor communities, the group helped address the hunger of millions in a timely and dignified manner. Along with a consortium of 270 private companies, Ayala helped to quickly raise PHP 1.7 billion. With this fund, the Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation and Caritas Manila distributed PHP 1,000 vouchers to 1.7 million families, or more than 7 million individuals in the Greater Manila Area. With additional contributions from ABS-CBN’s Pantawid ng Pag-Ibig, ADB and the government’s Bayan Bayanihan, and Jollibee’s FoodAID Program, food aid reached 2.8 million families, or over 14 million individuals. This helped government buy time while it mobilized resources to execute its own relief initiatives.
Lastly, Ayala continues to work with other private companies to support government in ramping up crucial testing and treatment capacity. The group participated in Task Force T3, an initiative by the IATF’s National Task Force and the Department of Health, to increase the country’s national testing capacity by 13 times from just 4,500 on April 24 to 60,000 on July 12. Ayala then joined Aboitiz, ABS-CBN, JG Summit, Metrobank Foundation, the Razon Group through Bloomberry Cultural Foundation, and the Yuchengco Group, to build seven Biosafety Level 2 laboratories to boost COVID-19 testing throughout the country.
Creating shared prosperity through inclusivity
Today’s crisis calls for a radical change in the way companies do business. In order to survive and thrive in the post-pandemic world, businesses must benefit the community-at-large through true inclusive growth, and not through pure philanthropy.
Early on for the Ayala Group, this meant extending its businesses beyond its traditional markets to serve a larger segment of society, while realigning its strategy to directly support the Philippines’ national agenda. Today, Ayala sees that it is more necessary than ever, as inclusive growth creates a multiplier effect that allows a broader community of stakeholders to benefit from a shared prosperity.
“Everyone understood that we had a broader responsibility; and this created a very interesting dynamic in our country: a sense of common purpose and a coming together of different groups including those who were long used to fiercely competing – not cooperating – with each other,” said Zobel de Ayala. “Today, we are here to support a covenant of shared prosperity. As individual firms, we have been engines of growth and doers of good for this nation. Let us challenge ourselves: how can we — where can we — level up to harness our purpose, our resources and our actions so that the Philippine Business Groups can collectively become a Force Multiplier for Growth and a Force Multiplier for Good?”
The livestreamed session was also graced by esteemed guests Hans T. Sy, SM Prime Holdings, Inc. Chairman of the Executive Committee, and Atty. Emilio B. Aquino, Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman. The lively discussion was moderated by Rex C. Drilon II, Member of the MAP Shared Prosperity Committee and Chairman of the Institute of Corporate Directors.