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DDB Philippines combats attrition

Updated: Dec 20, 2022

INTERVIEW: Multinational advertising group DDB Philippines boasts of having only a seven percent attrition rate in the past year. And this is thanks to Group Culture Officer Anna Chua-Norbert who has taken it upon herself to ensure that employees are happily engaged.

Chief of Staff Asia continues the second part of its conversation with the people chief who spoke openly on the state of DEI in the Philippines.

In a high-output fast-paced environment, we asked how they cope with the loss of manpower, albeit small. She said the company hires 60 people a year, usually fresh graduates.

“Attrition is not an issue. We embrace it as we welcome new blood,” Chua-Norbert says.

When ABS CBN, the country’s major media network, closed down, DDB Philippines hired many of its Creative and Production staff looking for freelance gigs. They came from Cebu, Iloilo, and other regional offices.

“We found ways to hire more people at that time. We worked with the regions.”

She is also proud to say that during the peak of the pandemic, no one left the company despite “The Great Resignation”. In the Philippines, many companies let go of their employees to sustain their margins. She cited that officers imposed a 20% cut in their pay to offset staff salaries across the board.

But Chua-Norbert says that their CEO had one main thing in mind, “Our task here is to keep our people safe. It means no jobs lost, no pay cuts, and no one dies.

“We sent care kits, and everyone was working remotely. We’re happy to say we had zero casualties, everyone was retained, and we did not have any pay cuts,” she discloses.

Meanwhile, Chua-Norbert opines that the Philippines still needs to achieve its maximum DEI potential. “Not yet (there). There’s room for growth,” she honestly replies.

“Applicants in the Philippines are not hired because of their educational background, age, economic status, or gender. Unlike in other countries, everything is written in black and white.”

She noted that some job announcements specify non-inclusive criteria such as certain preferences for height, age, and even waistline! “If someone can do the job without these unnecessary requirements, why not?” she asks.

For Chua-Norbert, the biggest DEI challenge in the country is the stereotype of education. “Only those that came from this XYZ school have the opportunity to get hired. They cherrypick. Because we are in the creative industry, I love that we can open access to all kinds of people regardless of where they came from.”

DDB Philippines became the first company in the country to participate in the Gender Equality Assessment, Results and Strategies (GEARS), a tool of the Philippine Business Coalition for Women Empowerment (PBCWE). PBCWE is a partnership between the Philippine Women’s Economic Network (PhilWEN) and the Australian Government’s Investing in Women initiative.

With GEARS, DDB Group Philippines underwent a rigorous three-month investigation and discovery. It achieved a score of 100 (leading practice level in nine over 10 areas) in terms of strong gender equality policies and practices.

However, more women are hired, so they are putting efforts now to balance the equation.

She confesses, “We’re happy that in DDB, women are paid more. But because I wanted the best when it comes to gender inclusivity and DEI, we need to improve on hiring more men.”

This feature was extracted from Chief of Staff Asia's exclusive interview with Anna Chua-Norbert, Chief Culture Officer of DDB Philippines. For further coverage please see the below link:

Meet Anna Chua-Norbert, the ad industry's diversity champion

DDB Philippines gears up on kindness at the workplace

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