DDB Philippines gears up on kindness at the workplace


In this third part of the interview, she told Chief of Staff Asia that one remarkable programme her company continues to pursue is to address the rise of HIV cases among Filipino teens with free testing.

“We’re a country with the fastest growing number of HIV cases among the youth. It was taboo, especially when attempting to discuss it with parents and ask them to get their children tested. So in 2019, we rolled out this programme in partnership with the Rotary Club of Makati, and Red Whistle.

“What people don’t know is that the government gives free tests and treatment,” she explains.

The Group Culture Officer revealed that the age category with the most HIV infection is between 15 and 20. She appeals to universities to join their CSR programme (called DDB Cares) for students, the future workers of the country.

“It’s a practical way to help these children. The stigma needs to go away,” Chua-Norbert emphasises.

Be kind

It was perfect timing that our conversation with Chua-Norbert coincided with World Kindness Week. She emphasised kindness in her acceptance speech at this year’s Women Leadership Award in Singapore, which recognised her as one of Asia’s Woman Leaders.

She believes choosing kindness is crucial in how a leader affects a team and others. “There’s room for kindness all the time. If you’re going to choose to be right or to be kind, choose the latter. There’s a lack of it in this day and age. There is true gain from being kind.

“In our business where HR is the bloodline, this industry is known to have bosses that shout, a toxic environment, or cases of sexual harassment. There is no excuse for bad behaviour just because you’re brilliant or award-winning. Life is hard. Work is stressful. But you can always choose your attitude,” Chua-Norbert points out.

Is there anything else Chua-Norbert wants to achieve?

She only wants her ideas applied and replicated elsewhere. “We rank high when it comes to women leaders, and I truly hope that this continues, that the other DDB locations in the world would also adopt the idea of looking after their people, and treating them with kindness.

“What we’re trying to do is to make that change and perform our moral obligation to the people, not because we pay them,” she stresses.

Other seasoned industry players questioned her seemingly idealistic views, saying she was “living in a bubble”.

Chua-Norbert comments, “Your reality is what you focus on. If you choose the status quo, where will the growth come from? Challenge the norm. Don’t accept the status quo.”

The best legacy she would like to leave is the concept she began at their workplace, which is Holistic Culture, especially in the Culture of Health.

“The more healthy Filipinos there are, the better the generation will be. Taking care of children’s health is important because they are our future leaders and our future employees. It will bring a wave of positive change, looking and moving forward,” she says of their CSR aspirations.

This feature was extracted from Chief of Staff Asia’s exclusive interview with Anna Chua-Norbert, Group Culture Officer of DDB Philippines. For further coverage please see the below links:

Meet Anna Chua-Norbert, the ad industry’s diversity champion

DDB Philippines combats attrition

Getting to know: Advertising DEI champion Anna Chua-Norbert

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Chief of Staff Asia