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E Q U A L CH A N CE S : E MP L O Y I N G T H E

HE ARING IMPAI RED


10:16 PM

Today, in our class, one of the cases discussed was about the CSR in Lamoiyan corporation. Honestly,
I have no idea with who Lamoiyan is, it was only in the class where I found out that they are the
manufacturer of Hapee toothpaste. I am familiar with Hapee; I see it on groceries and sari-sari stores
everywhere in the Philippines. Their endorsers are quite big as well. However, I still prefer other brand
to use, because my family sticks to that brand ever since the toothpaste world has begun.

Anyway, one of the notable things about Lamoiyan is employing deaf people in their company. As we
all know, it’s hard to get a job when one of your senses is impaired, especially in our economy when
there’s a lot of normal people looking for a job. Now, with this kind of initiative, opportunities are
given out to hearing impaired people and of course, this is really a good initiative. As stated in UN
under article 1 of human rights, “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights”, which
should implies that as long as we are qualified regardless of whether we are impaired or not, we should
have equal rights for job opportunities. And this is what Lamoiyan promotes, the equality between
normal and impaired people.

As I said, I’m not really familiar with Lamoiyan Corporation, which makes me believe that the
company is relatively small as compared to other toothpaste manufacturers. Now, my reflection is this:
If small companies can do initiatives like that, then bigger companies have no excuse not to take part
in hiring these impaired people. Obviously, Hapee is not the number one toothpaste brand in our
country, but the company was still able to sustain this initiative. Although they have other products
like Dazz dishwashing liquid, Licealiz shampoo…etc. Among all those product Hapee is the most
popular one, which does not even make it to number one or two in terms of competitiveness.

I think that if all companies will be hiring impaired people, depending on the nature of job, our labor
force will be more diverse, opening opportunities to different people with different abilities. It’s like
giving equal chances among all. According to Lamoiyan owner, Dr. Cecilio Kwok Pedro which is a
graduate of De La Salle University, deaf employees are actually the best. In an interview in ABS-CBN
news, he said, "If it’s just manual (referring to the job), if it’s just using the hands or the eyes, they’re
as good as you and me—in fact, they’re more focused because of their handicap.”

I remember when I was working in JP Morgan Chase in Taguig, one of our colleague is lame, suffering
from Polio. Having a polio does not hinder him from doing a job well done, since the job only requires
computer operational tasks and walking or running is not really a requirement. I believe hiring impaired
people does not really make any disadvantages to the companies as long as they are fitted to work on
the nature of the job.

Recently, I've read an article about Southstar Drugstore who's hiring PWDs as employees. These
employees who are initially hired under probationary will have a chance to become permanent
employees once they passed the evaluation process. Majority of these PWDs are distributed along
different branches of the drugstore in Manila, while others are in the main office. According to the
drugstore, this is not for a charity cause, they are really open to hiring PWDs, and said that these
employees will be treated just like other employees.

For me, the initiative of Southstar Drugstore is really helpful for the disabled. They are actually hiring
people with autism which is usually viewed by the society as mentally disabled making them appear
as if they are not capable of doing any job. Of course, now that a company is accepting them, it just
proves that they are capable of having a job, just like an ordinary person. Furthermore, this initiative
indeed promote equality between PWDs and normal person.

Another benefit of hiring PWDs in the company is that they stay in the company. On an HR
perspective, employee retention is one of the top goals since hiring new workers is costly for the
company. Millennials nowadays are labeled as job hoppers since they tend to switch jobs from time to
time (and I am a bit guilty with it). But for the impaired people, since only few companies are looking
for them, there is a greater probability that they will stay long in the company.

In terms of employment costs for the impaired, companies spend money for charity programs such as
donating to the poor, hosting charity events, sponsorship, etc... Instead of giving them assistance
through this charity programs, which is also costly, why not give them a stable job? This is a more
permanent solution in terms of supporting their daily needs. Feeding programs will definitely feed the
handicaps for a day, but providing those jobs will definitely feed them for years, making them more
stable and independent. And I believe that this is really the true meaning of CSR. It’s the ability to
include social responsibility in the daily operation of the company, making it a truly sustainable CSR
program, dedicated to make contributions for the betterment of the society.
Group Case: Lamoiyan Corporation – Pedro's Commitment to
the hearing impaired
Dr. Cecilio Kwok Pedro is the CEO and President of Lamoiyan Corporation, the company famous for its
toothpaste brand “Hapee”.

In 1978, he opened Aluminum Container Inc., a business that relied on orders for aluminum tubes for
multinational companies such Colgate – Palmolive and Unilever. For 10 years, Dr. Pedro’s business
boomed. However, in early 1986, Dr. Pedro closed ACI when his clients shifted from using aluminum tubes
for its packaging, to laminated plastic tubes for packing of its toothpastes. Despite the adversity, Dr. Pedro
launched his own toothpaste company, named Lamoiyan Corporation, and the brand Hapee was born.

Dr. Pedro’s belief that corporations should not only focus on making profits but also on having positive
impact to society. He prioritized the PWDs and hired hearing impaired individuals and re-hired his previous
employees from ACI including the hearing impaired. In its factory, the hearing impaired employees are
assigned to labor intensive positions as either line assist employees, machine assist employees, or machine
operators, which maximize their technical skills and capabilities; and received the same treatment,
trainings/seminars and benefits.

Currently, Lamoiyan Corporation has a number of CSR programs which include Dental Outreach and taking
care of the environment. The company launched a series of activities in support of DEAF, Inc. They also
produced a video featuring several celebrities expressing their support to the advocacy project.

Image Credit: https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CTCjTVeUsAAUn27.jpg

With this case, it’s good to know that there’s still company who value the PWDs and hearing impaired and
they are aiming to hire more as the company expand. PWDs are loyal to the company and they can work
in almost every field. Hiring PWDs demonstrates the company’s commitment to a diverse workplace. It
send a positive message about the firm and its value to customers, investors, and staff members.
The most important that our group learned in this case, are the relevance of human rights to companies
and the role of business in sustainable development. Respecting human rights is the right thing to do. It is
in line with core business values such as integrity, respect for people and equal opportunity. Sustainable
development requires meeting the basic needs of all and extending to all the opportunity to satisfy their
aspirations for a better life.

CSR to care for the PWDs

- Rey Gamboa (The Philippine Star) - August 3, 2013 - 12:00am


Our deaf and mute community has a lot to be thankful for. This is a community (PWD or Persons
with Disabilities) that has been sadly marginalized for their physical disability, though many of them
have bravely risen over their disability to become assets in the companies that have just as bravely
taken the bold step of integrating them into their workforce. Many other companies still choose to
take the easy, convenient route of hiring “normal” applicants because, let’s face it, there
are less adjustments, communication is not a problem, etc.

If I may cite a personal experience, I have had a deaf-mute in my employ for over two decades now.
Aside from his physical disability, he is also almost illiterate, barely able to read and write. But there
is always a place for someone like this in most organizations – you don’t really need a high
school diploma to clean the office every morning, feed the fishes in the aquarium, throw the trash,
make coffee, even be a part of the crew of our TV coverage and tapings, etc. I also found that many
of those with disabilities like this can have attitude problems, but making them toe the line is a
challenge that goes with the sense of social responsibility that we have decided to embrace in the
company. As a plus, everyone in the office has learned his language, and it is always a curious sight
to see him mingling with everyone else in group banters and story-telling.

I read that a Filipino company, Lamoiyan Corporation, has taken up the cudgels for this disabled
community. The company’s chief executive Cecilio Pedro, has, in fact, put up three schools for
the country’s deaf-mutes. These are now operating in Cavinti, Laguna, in Cabolan, Palawan and
in San Isidro, Nueva Ecija. These deaf-mute boys and girls can finish their high school education in
these schools which have been accredited by the Department of Education. In Cavinti, the school
there trains deaf people to become teachers to deaf students. They actually have 14 centers, nine
of them in Palawan where Lamoiyan Corporation sends teachers and provide classrooms to different
towns and municipalities in Coron, Puerto Princesa and Narra. Two of these centers are in Nueva
Ecija, three are in Paete, Laguna, and all these centers teach basic sign language education as part
of the ministry of the company.
CEO Cecilio Pedro is an elder of the United Evangelical Church of the Philippines and he has made
it his mission to reach out to the marginalized sectors to bring the gospel of Jesus Christ, especially
to the deaf, most of who are not given the opportunity to get an education. He said that according to
government estimates, there are five million Filipinos with disabilities, and of this number, 24 percent
comes from the deaf community. By conservative estimates, therefore, we have about a million deaf
Filipinos, and only about 40,000 – 50,000 of them have been given the chance to get an
education. The rest get some form of limited education at home.

Realizing this, his company has partnered with the government – they provide the teachers’
pay while the corporation provides the classrooms and gathers the students for the program.

Did you know that 30 percent of the firm’s work force is comprised of people with disabilities?
They are also deep into Operation Smile as part of the company’s medical mission – they
operate on children with cleft palates. From Mr. Pedro himself, we learned that 23,000 Filipino
babies are born every year with cleft palates.

To inject some humor into this discourse, the CEO, whose flagship product is Hapee
Toothpaste said that they also have mobile dental clinics as part of their outreach
program. “We want them to preserve their teeth—it is important for our toothpaste
business!―

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They have taken their CSR programs to another level. In their school in Cavinti, Laguna they have
100 hectares of land, about 60-70 hectares of which are agricultural lands, some of which are
planted to rice. Mr. Cecilio Pedro admits to being intrigued by technology of hybrid rice and seems
sold on the very idea. Hybrid rice, he says, is the key to self-sustenance in rice for the Philippines,
taking the cue from other Asian countries that have embraced the technology successfully. China,
for one, is a model for this. He is offering their 100-hectare property for rice field trial and testing to
SL Agritech Corporation, the leading hybrid rice producer in the country.

SL Agritech is engaged in research, development and production of superior hybrid rice seeds. At
home, we enjoy their Dona Maria Jasponica variety of rice, and we have not changed brands since
we first tasted it. It is fluffy, soft, and perfect with any viand.

Together in this venture, they will plant several varieties of SL AGritech’s hybrid seeds, first on a
trial basis using just one hectare of land. The deaf and mute students in the Cavinti community will
learn the technology from SL Agritech. Through this, Mr. Pedro said, they will be able to supplement
the food consumption of the student community in the area while earning the chance to learn
farming as a livelihood using an exceptional modern technology.

By next cropping, they will increase this to two hectares which should provide enough rice to feed
the entire community. They are also planning to include rice farming as a regular activity for the
students in their 14 centers for the deaf and mute.

Lamoiyan also has a 24-hectare property in Puerto Princesa, and this, he said, will likewise be
planted to hybrid rice. SL Agritech will provide four varieties of the high-yielding hybrid rice seeds to
Lamoiyan at five kilos of each kind for planting. SL Agritech is committed to providing the technical
assistance to this Lamoiyan project to ensure the highest yield.
Lamoiyan has no immediate plans of going into commercial production of hybrid rice, even with their
extensive land holdings. Suffice it to say that the CEO is interested to pursue the direction of going
into hybrid rice until we become self-sufficient in rice as a nation, until “It becomes more beautiful
to be in the Philippines,― he added.

Mabuhay!!! Be proud to be a Filipino.

Silent Initiative: Pedro’s Commitment


to the Hearing Impaired

The Equal Employment Program of Lamoiyan Corporation is a good example of a


sustainable corporate social responsibility initiative of a company. With the trend
nowadays of companies to be socially responsible, it is easy to get caught in the “CSR”
bandwagon where companies give dole-outs or conduct outreach programs to the poor
or marginalized sector of society. Some do this only to window-dress or not to be left out
in the CSR fever. We see a lot of these activities during special occasions like
Christmas to make it appear that the company is doing business not only for the money.
However to the keen eye, it is easy to detect which are true CSR programs and which
are not. Those which have real value have one common characteristic:
sustainability. Companies which only do these CSR programs for show will surely not
able to sustain these activities as these do not form the core principles of the company.
For Mr. Cecilio Pedro and the Lamoiyan family, however, it is evident that the equal
employment program is not for show but is part of their core company values. It is part
of how they do business. And this what makes their program sustainable.

It is not difficult to understand why Mr. Pedro considers the equal employment program
part of the core values of the company. As a struggling young entrepreneur, he knew
the hardships of starting a business and finding a job. He started from the bottom and
built his way up to becoming one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the
Philippines. His temporary setback in the aluminum tube business only made him more
resilient as he decided to be a manufacturer of his own brand of toothpaste himself-
Hapee toothpaste. His success even threatened the market share of the big names in
the toothpaste business. Despite his success, Mr. Pedro did not forget his mission to
help the marginalized sector which started his business when it was still small. He had a
special heart for the deaf and he employed them in his business. For many years, he
continued to help the deaf despite the challenges of outsourcing and contractualization.
Mr. Pedro could have just employed regular employees to be more competitive, but his
passion to help the deaf remained strong. Indeed, the equal employment program
thrived because it had support from the top management.

I have observed that companies with a sustainable CSR program include CSR as part
of their company core values. Unless it is explicitly stated and made known to all
employees and management and programs and activities organized around it, the
activity will only be piece-meal and intermittent and will not be sustainable in the long
run. In the case of Lamoiyan, giving employment to the deaf has become a part of the
company culture. Despite the temptation to outsource and contract services, Mr. Pedro
stood firm in continuing with the program no matter the cost. To my mind, it has to start
from the top to be sustainable and that the program must be done with genuine motives
and not for show alone. All of these are seen in the case of Lamoiyan and I am sure that
with the right leadership, passion and motivation, the equal employment program shall
continue to help the deaf in need for a long time. This shows that to be truly successful,
businesses should be motivated not only by profit but with the higher end of giving back
to society. Mr. Pedro’s legacy will surely be about not only how he transformed a small
business to one of the biggest in the country, but on how he used these resources to
give employment to the deaf.

Lamoiyan Corporation and Its


CSR Success
For this week, our group presented the case of Cecilio Kwok Pedro, the CEO and president
of Lamoiyan Corporation. I want to give emphasis on this case because it is very different
from our previous cases. While the cases we have tackled were about companies that
committed ethical misconduct, I believe that this case is a perfect example of corporate
social responsibility (CSR). If we will examine the company’s CSR, I can say that it
reached the last rightmost side of the continuum. Lamoiyan was able to balance profit and
its social objectives.

Silent Initiative: Pedro’s Commitment to the Hearing Impaired


Born in a Filipino Chinese family in 1953, Cecilio was able to develop necessary leadership
and entrepreneurial skills that made him succeed in business. In 1978, he established his
first company – the Aluminum Container, Inc. (ACI). It was the supplier of aluminum tubes
of multinational companies (MNCs) such as Colgate-Palmolive and Uniliver. However,
after 10 years of flourishing, the industry shifted to plastic tubes for the toothpaste
packaging. This sudden turn of events brought about the demise of its company.
Realizing that he can use his existing resources, Cecilio decided to establish his own
toothpaste company called Lamoiyan Corporation. While MNCs relied on their global
brand, Lamoiyan used its price as a competitive weapon. It was known for its same to for
less strategy. With quality products on par with MNCs but was sold 30 percent cheaper,
the company’s brand “Hapee” immediately rose as the number three toothpaste brand in
the country in 2006. After capturing 20 percent of the local industry’s market share, the
company planned to penetrate the Southeast Asian market.

But aside from successfully establishing a local toothpaste brand, the company is known
for employing hearing impaired through its Equal Employment Program. This is the
personal mission of its CEO and President. Thus, he rehired his previous employees,
including the hearing impaired, to Lamoiyan after the shutdown of ACI.

As a staunch supporter of the idea of providing equal opportunities to people with


disabilities, Pedro promoted same treatment for all his employees. For instance, the hearing
impaired received the same training seminars and benefits. They were minimum wagers
even if the law provided that they can be paid a mere 75 percent of the minimum wage.
Pedro believed that there are several benefits of hiring the hearing impaired. They were
presumed to be skilled in manual labor. In addition, they did not find repetitive work as
monotonous. Therefore, in the factory, they were assigned to labor intensive positions such
as machine assists, line assists and machine operators. They also had the ability to focus
since they did not have many interests that distracted them. Since they are handicapped,
they think that it would be difficult for them to find other jobs. Thus, they valued their work
and strived hard.

However, hiring the hearing impaired required hearing employees to adjust to their culture.
Therefore, Lamoiyan promoted the “culture of tolerance”. Since the former are slow
learners, the company encouraged supervisors and co-workers to be patient when
interacting with them. It also built a culture that was open to the hearing impaired. This
made them become more loyal, more hardworking and punctual. To lessen the gap between
the hearing and non-hearing employees, the company provided sign language training to
all interested employees.

Despite these adjustments and additional cost, Pedro felt that there was a return on his
investment on the hearing impaired. In giving speeches regarding their unique employment
program, Pedro was approached by people saying that they were encouraged to use Hapee
toothpaste because of this social message.

Therefore, Pedro continued to employ hearing impaired. In 2007, Lamoiyan had 14 regular
non-hearing employees and five contractual hearing impaired ones. This was a win-win
situation for both parties – the “most underprivileged”, as Cecilio regarded them, had their
source of income while the manufacturing company, which is a labor intensive one, had
benefitted from their skills in manual labor. However, this mission was put to risk as the
competition in the global market became stiffer.

Competition from China, India and Thailand had caused companies to outsource some of
their services such as accounting, marketing and even production operations to decrease
production cost.

This situation had threatened Pedro’s personal mission to communicate the need to hire
hearing impaired. As said earlier, non-hearing individuals were slow learners. However, in
order for them to compete and join in the pool of contractual employees, they have to be
very, very fast and learn very, very quickly.

But aside from his personal mission, this situation had also put his business at risk. Known
for its affordability, other companies can now aggressively compete as reduced production
cost will enable them to decrease their product prices.

Despite this increased competition, our group believed that Pedro needs to continue his
personal mission of helping the hearing impaired. Although they are handicapped, we
believed that they have the right to employment. In fact, their disability was not hindering
their capacity to perform their job effectively. It was even stated in the case that they
worked faster than the hearing employees.

Therefore, we thought of a course of action that will not only address the current problem
in the case, but will also ensure the sustainability of Pedro’s commitment. With that, we
believe that the best solution is for Lamoiyan to export its products and hire additional
hearing impaired to support the increase in production. In addition to providing job
opportunities for more hearing impaired, this action will also support the company’s vision
of becoming the “Colgate of Asia”.

To date, I found out that Lamoiyan supports Operation Smile, an international organization
that performs corrective surgery on children with cleft palate. It also has a dental outreach
program. In addition, the company supports the “Clean Water Act of the Philippines” by
using treated and disinfected waste water for non-commercial purposes. At present, the
company employs 30 deaf-mute staff.

With this, I want to say kudos to Lamoiyan! Kudos to Cecilio Kwok Pedro!