Not a Coincidence: How This Women-Led Agency Thrived Amid the Pandemic
In the past two years, many businesses learned what research has been suggesting for years: if you want to navigate as smoothly (and sanely) as possible through tough challenges, employee happiness is not to be taken lightly. Some learned this the hard way, losing their best talents to companies that offered not just higher pay but a more positive work culture. But for a company like Evident, an award-winning, women-led integrated marketing and PR agency, it was an opportunity to amplify what were already core company values to begin with: purpose, trust, empathy, and inclusivity.
All-Female ManCom at Evident
“2020 was a true test of resiliency and this is where I realized that it is important to lead with empathy more than anything,” says CEO Cecile Dominguez-Yujuico in an e-mail interview. “We all had our different ways of coping with the uncertainty and together with the leadership team, we encouraged full transparency and made sure that everyone in the team understands that their mental health and wellbeing is our priority.”
Cecile Dominguez Yujuico, CEO of Evident
When the community quarantine was first announced, Evident hunkered down and swiftly made decisions with pandemic restrictions and challenges in mind. “Evident quickly transitioned to a fully remote setup and adapted our services to what was most needed at the time,” says Dominguez-Yujuico. “As a company, we had zero downtime when lockdowns were put in place. This is because we already had a strong system of using project management software and efficient workflows.”
Aside from making decisions to survive as a business, they also made changes that allowed their employees to continue to thrive as individuals, taking into consideration whatever their roles may be at home. “As leaders, we provided our team with more flexibility in their workdays to attend to family or personal matters that needed their immediate attention and get back to work afterward.”
Team Evident in Negros Occidental with Coca-Cola Philippines
Over time, aside from a flexible work environment, Evident also invested in mental health counseling services for their teams, work-from-home kits with monthly internet allowance, COVID-19 care kits, and mandated paid COVID-19 sick leaves on top of standard sick leaves provisions. Internal meetings on Fridays are also discouraged “to help people have focused work time and wrap up their week.”
Let Ladies Lead
Currently, 31 of Evident’s 46 employees are women, with 10 of them having direct reports. And to truly reflect the spirit of diversity, apart from experienced PR and marketing practitioners, the company boasts of a lineup of former journalists, government employees, NGO workers, and fresh graduates from various courses–each one playing to their strengths and complementing teammates in a highly collaborative environment.
Team Evident at the First Quarterly Party of 2022
While the company’s many successes (including being shortlisted as Specialist Agency of the Year at last year's PR Awards Asia–the only Philippine agency to make the list) should certainly be credited to skills learned and honed, the fact that the company's leaders are mostly women shouldn’t be ignored. The pandemic has shone a spotlight on how women thrive as leaders in business, especially in times of crises; but data has also shown that it is women who have been hit harder by the socio-economic complications brought about by the pandemic–with more women globally reporting loss of work, dropping out of education, and experiencing an increase in gender-based violence.
There’s no better time than Women’s Month to remind companies of the role they play in gender equality and women’s empowerment, and perhaps more leaders would benefit from following Evident’s lead in cultivating a nurturing environment at work.
“There is respect for everyone, for their time, for their work, for their challenges, for their decisions.”
“We have quite a number of women employees who are moms and fur-moms (including myself and Cecile) so we understand the challenges of having to work and scheduling ‘play time’ with kids. We empower them to take as many breaks or times-off as they wish and professionally, we invest in any training that would help them perform better in their respective business units,” says COO Stephanie Balois-Guerrero. “We take pride in our high-trust and high-integrity environment and we found that this has empowered the team to deliver their best work.”
Evident's COO, Stephanie Balois-Guerrero
Diane Hidalgo, director for corporate and public affairs believes it is also the executive team’s open-door policy (which is actually practiced and not just preached) that has allowed Evident to experience an employee turnover rate of only 12 percent, despite the reported 30 percent industry average.
“Leading with empathy has allowed for a great working environment,” adds Erica Samonte, director for digital marketing. “There is respect for everyone, for their time, for their work, for their challenges, for their decisions.”
There are many contributing factors to Evident’s success, but the company’s vision to “put clients’ purpose at the core of their marketing and communications” helps structure Evident’s approach in a way that inspires not just their target market, but their very own employees.
“We have an affinity for business pursuits anchored on social good. By helping clients find their ‘why’ and use this purpose as the basis of our work, we help them strike a balance between making a profit and doing good for the audience they serve,” says Dominguez-Yujuico.
More than simply relying on marketing briefs, the company grounds its strategies on human perspectives, experiences, and nuances.
The method, which targets real-world impact just as much as likes and other digital metrics, has allowed the company to expand heavily in 2021 and even establish a Sports, Gaming, and Entertainment business unit.
The focus on this category has allowed them to work with some of the biggest and emerging names in the industry and participate in both local and international conferences. They’ve also recently partnered with the Philippine Esports Organization to mount the SEA Games campaign kick-off press conference of Team Sibol, the Philippine National Esports Team, to strategically boost the local industry.
Evident's Project Managers at the 2022 SEA Games Kickoff for Sibol
Aside from gaming, Evident’s Advocacy Communications and Public Affairs team members have also been working with the Ministry of Basic, Higher and Technical Education (MBHTE) in BARMM’s education ministry. Their team has recently resumed fieldwork in Mindanao to implement their strategic communications plans, even establishing a regional office in Cotabato.
While these industries and projects come with their own sets of challenges and growing pains, it is clear Evident’s well-equipped team is more than capable to handle whatever comes their way. As the company has proven in the past two years, finding your “why” can go a long way in instilling a sense of innovation and stability even at a time when much of the future remains uncertain.