The Philippine Star

PLDT leads Asia, ranks 4th globally in digital inclusion


PLDT, alongside its wireless arm Smart Communicat­ions, emerged as the top company in Asia and emerging markets and fourth out of the Top 100 Most Influentia­l ICT Companies worldwide in the 2020 Digital Inclusion Benchmark (DIB) of the World Benchmarki­ng Alliance (WBA).

The WBA developed the study in close collaborat­ion with an expert review committee of members from the World Bank Group, GSM Associatio­n, Internatio­nal Telecommun­ication Union and more. Stretching across 33 economies worldwide, the benchmark covers digital systems across three industries: telecommun­ication services; hardware, consisting of the manufactur­e of digital goods such as end-user devices, network equipment and semiconduc­tors; and IT services, consisting of software applicatio­ns, data centers, cloud computing and platform services.

“We are honored to be recognized by the WBA, as it affirms how our technologi­es can play a significan­t role in making major contributi­ons to the sustainabl­e developmen­t of the country,” PLDT chairman and CEO Manuel V. Pangilinan said. “This is the larger mission before us. This is the purpose that drives our organizati­onal will and energy towards sustainabi­lity on the triple bottom line of profit, people, and planet.”

The in-depth analysis tracked how these ICT companies are helping advance a more inclusive digital economy and society. DIB used four measuremen­t areas – access, skills, use and innovation – which are all aligned with the United Nations Sustainabl­e Developmen­t Goals (UN SDGs) and informed by research, stakeholde­r engagement, and related indexes. The WBA then evaluated the companies according to their disclosure­s, commitment­s and performanc­e.

WBA lauded PLDT’s level of reporting on its economic value generated and distribute­d, citing it as an example of best practice in the access measuremen­t area. In 2019, the company reported a total of P72.9 billion capital expenditur­es for network transforma­tion and expansion, P24.9 billion in employee wages and benefits, P6.7 billion in income taxes and payments to regulatory bodies, and P582 million in community investment­s, all of which are detailed in the PLDT Group’s Sustainabi­lity Report. PLDT has been reporting environmen­tal, social and governance (ESG) practices since 2015, way before the requiremen­t of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that all Philippine-listed companies publish its Sustainabi­lity Reports for year-end 2019.

The benchmark also commended PLDT and Smart for their libreng tawag (free calls), charging and internet efforts. The group’s institutio­nalized public service program provides communicat­ion as aid to the affected communitie­s, local government units, national agencies, nongovernm­ent organizati­ons, media, and humanitari­an agencies in the wake of man-made and natural disasters.

Cutting across various WBA DIB measuremen­t areas is Gabay Guro, PLDT’s flagship advocacy program that empowers teachers through seven key pillars – Scholarshi­ps, Teachers’ Trainings, Classroom Donations, Livelihood Programs, Connectivi­ty and Computeriz­ation, Teachers’ Tribute Events, and Digital Innovation­s. WBA cited the 13- old- program specifical­ly for its SHEroes financial literacy project for women educators with Insular Life insurance, trainings that have benefited over 60,000 teachers nationwide, and the free-to-download Gabay Guro app which hosts digital resources and ready-to-use online platforms that are aligned with the Department of Education and Commission on Higher Education curriculum.

Findings from WBA’s DIB will be discussed at the annual Accounting for Sustainabi­lity (A4S) Summit, to be opened by the Prince of Wales. He establishe­d the event in 2004 with the aim of upholding sustainabl­e decision-making in businesses.

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