Women Entrepreneurship Week 2020 Thailand Promoting women entrepreneurship and
responsible business conduct to advance sustainability and decent work
The Department of Organization, Entrepreneurship, and Human Resource Management, Thammasat Business School, Thammasat University, and the Responsible Supply Chains in Asia Programme (Thailand) of the ILO comprise the network in Thailand for Women Entrepreneurship Week (WEW), established by the Feliciano Center for Entrepreneurship from Montclair State University, the United States of America. This network, incorporating 230 universities from 30 countries, has helped organize the fourth Women Entrepreneurship Week 2020 Thailand with the theme of Promoting Women Entrepreneurship and Responsible Business Conduct to Advance Sustainability and Decent Work.
The event was scheduled for 27 October 2020 from 1pm – 4:30pm in the Luang Damri Itsaranuwat Room on the fifth floor of the Thammasat Business School, Thammasat University, Rangsit campus. The event is held globally during September 21st and November 13th highlight the importance and role of women entrepreneurs and inspire young people to develop innovative imagination and creativity as they develop into a new generation of future entrepreneurs.
It was an honor to welcome three guest speakers to the seminar: Dr. Nalinee Paiboon, Chairman of Giffarine Skyline Unity Company Limited, a business leader in the health and beauty products network; Ms. Joni Simpson, Senior Specialist on Gender, Equality and Non-discrimination at the ILO; and Miss Rungchat Boonyarat, CEO of Malee Group Public Company Limited. They participated in talks to express inspiring experiences to students and the general public.
Dr. Nalinee Paiboon gave a special lecture on Women Entrepreneurship and Responsible Business Conduct. She explained that when she launched a direct sales business, she knew little if anything about the business. But as a doctor, she had the emotional motivation of wanting to help patients and create jobs, and believed in herself despite any objections. Her first move was to build a small cosmetics factory under the brand name Suprederm. Its sales volume reached over 100 million baht annually. Yet although still under 40 years of age, Dr. Nalinee began to wonder why, despite financial success, she felt unhappy, began to be narcissistic. She continued business investments by creating a new brand, Giffarine, two years later, employing some staff who followed her to this new project.
Starting the new business with no guarantees, she told them, “The doctor promises to take care of everyone until their final days,” she said, demonstrating the trust felt between founder and employees. The company manufactures reasonably priced, good quality products, and takes responsibility if problems occur. The challenge was to make employees think like business owners. The secret to being a leader is to inspire love for employees and customers, as well as understanding the hearts of others. Love and prestige are not a result of professional standing. A smiling, friendly, respectful, positive thinking approach that avoids hurtful criticism is essential. Most importantly, gentle strength and intelligence are needed, as well as openness to different evolving ideas. Fortunately, Thai business industries accept talents of women and diversity. Masculinity is not a prerequisite for supervising male employees. In 2011, the Nava Nakorn Giffarine factory was flooded to over 2.5 meters of water and declared a disaster zone. The crisis was significant, but instead of discouragement, Dr. Nalinee resolved to restore the factory as soon as possible. Caring for over 300,000 workers nationwide is a challenge, keeping in mind relationships between upline and downline (referrals), and preventing referrals from feeling exploited. Adhering to the principle of benevolence to people near one is vital. Everyone wants to do what they love, with pride, recognition, opportunities, income, and job status, but without undue greed. A direct sales business can promote avariciousness. This natural greed may be reduced by donations to social support activities. During the Novel Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, Dr. Nalinee informed staff that the company would continue to pay all employee salaries without exception. Fortunately, online sales had begun four to five years before, making adjustments possible in a timely fashion. Seminar participants were fascinated by Dr. Nalinee’s insights as well as her courageous generosity and benevolence.
Ms. Joni Simpson and Miss Rungchat Boonyarat discussed the topic of Leading Responsible Business and Decent Work. Ms. Simpson defined the term responsible business that the ILO, a United Nations (UN)-affiliated organization, promotes with different international labor standards. The ILO has urged member countries to implement the concept in the form of labor protection, and other related, laws. An emphasis on decent work includes an appropriate minimum wage rate, promoting employment security, paid maternity leave, vacation leave, labor rights protection, and other human rights.
Presently, free trade agreements facilitate international trade and investment. The global manufacturing supply chain is spread across many countries. Private companies, especially multinational corporations, should conduct business responsibly. Throughout the global supply chain, all forms of labor are involved. In addition, the ILO has always promoted gender equality, believing that when women are engaged in the labor market, productivity can increase. Modern customers expect to buy products from companies aiming not only at profit maximization, but also sustainability and gender parity. International research has revealed that women face barriers to employment, insofar as unlike most men, they must seek paid work outside the home as well as doing unpaid household chores, including cleaning, child care, and elderly care. Women are generally less knowledgeable about business, acquire less technological ability, and are more frequently discriminated against in jobs than men are. Women must also face the problem of the glass ceiling, preventing them from being promoted to senior executive status. Therefore, empowering women by creating opportunities to join the table of important decision-making and transparency in gender equality are fundamental.
Ms. Roongchat Boonyarat joined her family fruit canning business at age 25. Company products include 50% of canned fruit and ultra-high temperature treatment (UHT) fruit juice, and 50% for original equipment manufacturer (OEM) production and export. Age, rather than gender, was an initial barrier. Lacking work experience, Ms. Roongchat asked knowledgeable people for advice. A paternal inheritance is seen as a shortcut, compared to starting from scratch. She learned all the basics quickly, and after giving birth to her first child, first realized how much more difficult it is for women to work than for men. Mothers must do the breastfeeding, and cannot assign the tasks to their husbands.
Even with a team of assistants, the first priority must go to the child. To respond to the question of what we are work for, the answer that taking care of people closely associated with the business (stakeholders) is necessary, to improve their quality of life. So Ms. Roongchat began to transform the business hardware, installing high quality machines, despite the expense, to reduce use of chemicals that may affect employees as well as any environmental damage. In terms of software, Ms. Roongchat believes in the concept of Growing Well Together, but when thinking of benefiting others, it is indispensable not to forget oneself as well. The Win-Win Solution principle is effective. Because they do good for society, businesses survive and gain benefits too. Multinational corporations that employed us to make products required us care for workers according to international standards, such as a maximum work week of 60 hours. But Thai law allows for 84 hours of work weekly. Therefore, Ms. Roongchat changed the work shifts from two shifts of eight hours each plus overtime (OT) of four hours to three shifts within OT. So employee salary base must be increased to earn sufficient income, also increasing costs. Generally, consumers see Malee as a brand image that is over 40 years old. But we must rebrand to become contemporary. Ms. Roongchat observes, “I like doing business, even though I don’t like fruit juice because it is a volume game, measured in sales volume. Every morning, I wake up thinking what today’s impact will be.” Attendees were deeply impressed by the talent of a youthful female CEO of a company listed on the Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET). We learned conceptual methods of women entrepreneurs, inspiration for future business and career choices.
Women Entrepreneurship Week 2020 Thailand
This year, Thammasat University organized the fourth annual seminar focusing on responsible business and sustainable development goals (SDGs), initiated by the United Nations, especially SDG5, gender equality; SDG8, decent work and economic growth; and SDG12, sustainable consumption and production. The ILO urges member countries to adopt human rights principles, labor rights protection, and gender equality to determine an appropriate minimum wage rate, secure work, and create decent work for workers, who are key elements in the global production supply chain.
At the same time, the female minority women involved in the workforce internationally is encouraged to increase their economic power. Gender diversity is believed to increase work productivity and family solidarity. Women face many obstacles at work even with equivalent opportunities to work outside the home, because they have the added burden of more housework (unpaid tasks) than men, especially in Asia. In addition, there are limitations in learning about doing business, with men more familiar with technology than women. Gaps between Thai and foreign laws are a further matter of concern.
The Women Entrepreneurs Week seminar established that female entrepreneurs who run their businesses are as successful and growth-oriented as males. For example, Dr. Nalinee Paiboon of Giffarine Sky Unity Company Limited created original employee engagement with the idea that everyone is a true owner of Giffarine, building employee trust. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Giffarine has trained employees in online sales, without abandoning the goal of human touch and building positive customer relationships. While at Malee Group Public Company Limited, Miss Rungchat Boonyarat promoted the idea of Growing Well Together, paying attention to each production process, from raw materials, labor, customers, and all stakeholders inside and outside the organization, to develop mutually and advance together.
I was impressed that all the female entrepreneurs are so self-confident and self-assured about being talented woman in the business community. Yet they still see issues of gender equality in business and management, and are ready to push for gender equality, not just for women, but for everyone.
The presentations by three speakers provided knowledge about business management, taking into account gender equality and the issue of women as business entrepreneurs. The first speaker, Dr. Nalinee, talked about working happily by doing what we love and translating it into what customers want. Dr. Nalinee communicated the impression of a happy, dedicated doctor working and managing a company. The second speaker, Ms. Simpson, spoke about responsible business, decent work, and SDGs that businesses are trying to achieve today. The impression is of increased gender diversity awareness being widely accepted today, a reassuring message for job hunting after graduation. The final speaker was Ms. Rungchat, who is young, but highly talented in business and management. Her range of abilities was awe-inspiring.
I was very impressed with the story of the Malee Group, so I felt that Ms. Roonchat’s principles and ideas constantly tried to adapt and develop according to stakeholder interests. The company goals were very impressive, including promoting Thai brands to world renown. I believe Ms. Roonchat has much talent as an entrepreneur and mother. I learned about Giffarine Sky Unity Company Limited’s direct sales business network principles, including building employee and salesperson confidence and trust, so that everyone works together to advance the business. Learning is not about doing anything you wish, if customers don’t respond positively. I was delighted to attend the seminar.
We understood that entrepreneurship that is about money alone, but also looking after business personnel and how to grow alongside them. Their stories reminded us why we get up in the morning to achieve work and life goals. Business is just about one person. Starting a business requires employee trust. We live in a transparent era, where everyone can easily find information. If we lack sincerity, our business won’t last long. This also demonstrates how businesses can care for people, respect human rights, and manage for the mutual benefit of all stakeholders. It was good to participate in the seminar today.
The seminar allowed me to learn more about women entrepreneurs and provided me much encouragement. I want to have my own business, but lack some knowledge. I learned how to coexist with others and manage people positively. Entrepreneurs should be smart about work and people. These small points are important elements of organizational success. Many thanks to Dr. Natenapha who recommended attending this seminar.
By participating in this seminar, I met very talented female entrepreneurs who, I felt, had different mindsets than my own. It was good to absorb different ways of thinking, good ideas to apply to business or future employment. Dr. Nalinee provided many insights. It’s about being brave to make a decision to do business, while people disagreed. She taught how to create an identity to be loved by others. Mr. Joni described about gender equality and the policies that come up with equality to ensure fairness to workers and to support their better quality of life. Thank you very much for your knowledge and experience sharing with us today.
This seminar brings to mind that female entrepreneurs have lofty vision. Gender and age are not problems in business management. Finally, it is the idea of how entrepreneurs will conduct business that benefit all parties. Entrepreneurs must also take into account the welfare of employees and social responsibility, in addition to the success of the organization. Also, when it comes to branding products, today’s consumers are more focused on the production process. Asking questions like: Which countries the company hires workers? Does the company oppress workers? Are the raw materials used environment-friendly? In addition, many countries are campaigning for more female workers. This helps increase new ideas, market opportunities, and new perspectives on business and management.
The seminar is an impressive time. This is a great opportunity to attend it. I gained useful knowledge in many ways about business, especially in terms of female entrepreneurship. The key idea is that “everyone is a true owner” is to create a system of ideas and engagement with the organization. The idea of “don’t let others make your own life decisions.” I was very impressed with this statement. It made me more committed to making a decision and going for it.
10. This seminar gave me an opportunity to listen to the actual experiences of successful female entrepreneurs, and be expand my ideas about the role of female entrepreneurs. What I learned is the SDG5 gender equality, SDG8 decent work and economic growth, and SDG12 sustainable production and consumption. The United Nations has supported the protection of labor rights and human rights, and taken a look at labor standards, including minimum wage protection, employment security, and employment of migrant workers, as well as responsible business. Companies must take all these things into account, not just the profit maximization. In addition, Giffarine Sky Unity Co., Ltd. was formed with trust. Even if the world turns into online sales business, it does not leave behind “human trust”. Malee Group company told the story of building a strong brand with a good image. It reminded us that pre-existing brands are not always attracting consumers. Rebranding to be contemporary is required.