In a year dominated by continuing challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, San Miguel Corporation (SMC) emerged as Top Employer of the Year at the 2021 Asia CEO Awards—besting other major Philippine conglomerates across several criteria, including outstanding leadership, improving employees’ professional careers, providing recognition, talent development, social commitment, and promoting work-life balance.

In a video address for the event, SMC president Ramon S. Ang emphasized the importance of instilling a deeper sense of purpose among employees, and the role of a strong values system, in helping SMC weather challenges and even thrive, amid the difficult business environment.

Ang said that throughout the pandemic, SMC remained resilient and was able to contribute substantially to COVID-19 response, as well as continue its major strategic projects, in large part because of these factors.

“This crisis gave us the opportunity to redefine normal. We focus on the things that matter most, and we are single-minded about getting things done the right way… As one of the largest companies in the Philippines, we know we have a responsibility to use our resources to help rebuild lives and our economy, better. Despite the uncertainties, we keep pushing to help our country recover,” he said

After the program, Ang further expressed gratitude for the award, saying he dedicated it to employees of SMC and its various subsidiaries, who have been working hard despite the continued threat of COVID-19.

He also cited the company’s nationwide effort to reach and vaccinate all SMC employees and extended workforce throughout the archipelago, as among its most significant achievements this year.

SMC’s Ligtas Lahat vaccination task force has since vaccinated 90% of SMC’s nationwide network, with full completion of the program expected by November.

Last year, SMC also became perhaps the first private company to put up its own RT-PCR testing laboratory to regularly test employees and ensure their safety in the workplace, and the safety of those they do business with.

According to the Asia CEO Awards, the Top Employer of the Year award is given to any Philippines-based organization that has “achieved important employer success while overseeing a business enterprise either within Philippines or outside of it.”

Criteria are management achievement, workplace enhancement, recognition, talent development, social commitment, and work-life balance.

“San Miguel has gone through many challenges throughout its 131-year history and I think, this pandemic is one of the biggest challenges the company has ever encountered. But we remain steadfast in our commitment to help in the country’s recovery from the pandemic and we pay tribute to our employees for helping us achieve our goals,” said Ang.

Last year, Ang received the Asia CEO Awards’ Lifetime Contributor Award.

Before taking delivery of its company-procured vaccines, SMC launched its nationwide vaccination program by hiring over a hundred medical workers and deployed them to various local governments to augment understaffed public vaccination sites.

With the near-completion of its vaccination goals, SMC has said it will turn its focus on helping underserved and underprivileged sectors. Recently, it deployed its mobile vaccination unit, the SMC Bakuna Bus to prison facilities to help vaccinate inmates and persons deprived of liberty.

  “With the full vaccination of our employees completed before the year ends, we are confident that we can contribute more to the country’s recovery. This a crucial time in our country’s history and knowing this, we are pursuing job-generating projects and expansion programs,”Ang said. SMC rolled out one of largest private sector responses to the crisis since the pandemic hit the country in March 2020. SMC spent over P14 billion to help the country—especially medical front-liners and the poorest communities.