A MAN OF VIRTUE AND PRINCIPLE
Time and time again, JAIME AUGUSTO ZOBEL DE AYALA has proven that the key role private companies must fulfill in a crisis is not to maintain the bottom line but to uphold compassion.
From the outset of the pandemic in the Philippines back in March, many business conglomerates led impressive initiatives that protected the welfare of their employees as well as other stakeholders. From extending full-pay while at home to other forms of financial support, business giants were quick to establish a sense of security within the looming threat of the virus. But there was something unique about Ayala Corporation’s approach to their COVID-19 response. In an official statement, Jaime Zobel de Ayala shared that, “We are reminded of both the resilience and humanity of our employees. They, in turn, reminded us to be true to our most important values while contributing to making the best out of a difficult situation.” This he shares in reference to the countless workers that continue to work in the frontlines of the pandemic. There is a warm sense of humanity in the way Ayala has responded to the crisis, a humanity that stems from the core values of their leadership. “At Ayala, we see these past few months as more than a 2020 crisis. Instead, we view it as an important transition for the company in its support of customers, partners, and the community at large,” Zobel shared in a joint statement with brother Fernando Zobel. But the most striking message to come out of this April statement, more than just supporting their employees and surviving the pandemic as a business, these early words in the pandemic already showed the determination for the company to progress and thrive, “The potential of creating a sustainable future for our country relies on the ability to leverage our interconnected society towards shared growth. Our strength as a community comes from our ability to grow with each other.” And in the months that followed, they certainly stayed true to their word.
FULFILLING A DEEPER PURPOSE
What followed for the Ayala Group were multiple corporate-led initiatives that supported disenfranchised communities with some in collaboration with the government. One of which was Project Ugnayan, a fund-raising initiative that combined the efforts of a number of top business groups with the Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation. The project provided financial and grocery aid to over 7.6 million people in vulnerable communities in and around Metro Manila. Understanding the immediate and long-term benefits of such initiatives, Zobel shared, We are grateful for this opportunity to be part of this business community effort to help people in a time of crisis. This is a movement we should nurture as we prepare to let people return to work and to re-start our economy in the post-quarantine period.” More than just upfront aid, Zobel understands the value of creating sustainable innovation in these projects that ensure communal growth beyond the confines of the pandemic. An example of this is some of the Ayala Group’s internal initiatives that address the constraints in the time of the virus. AC Health, the conglomerate’s healthcare unit, spearheaded projects such as converting clinics to COVID-19 facilities and other necessary services, the unit also built digital means of availing help such as the HealthNow app, a telemedicine platform.
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