For the first time, two women from the Philippines were included in US magazine Forbes’ rankings of the world’s billionaires. Filipino tycoons on the annual lists have always been predominantly male.
The two women that were on the latest rankings are Teresita Sy-Coson and Elizabeth Sy, daughters of SM Group founder Henry Sy Sr. They both made the list following their father’s death in January 2019, along with their four brothers. They are also the 12th and 13th richest people in the country, respectively.
The only other Filipino woman ever included in the prestigious list was Susan Co, director and vice-chairman of supermarket chain Puregold Price Club. She made the list in 2013, 2015 and 2016, but she was mentioned alongside her husband as “Lucio and Susan Co.”
More than being heirs of the Philippines’ former richest man, Sy and Sy-Coson are also at the helm of the respective businesses they handle under the family conglomerate.
Also fondly called Tessie by close friends and colleagues, Sy-Coson is the eldest of six.
She serves as the co-chairman of SM Investments Corporation, the family’s holding firm for the SM Group. It is involved in the family's retail, property, and banking businesses. In 2017, SM Investments posted profits of P51.5 billion from revenues of P396.1 billion—an eight-percent increase from the previous year.
Sy-Coson also chairs BDO Unibank, Inc., the country’s largest bank by assets.
Globally, Sy-Coson ranks 1,057th with an estimated net worth of $2.2 billion. She’s along the ranks of Lottie Tham, daughter of Erling Persson, the late founder of fashion retailer brand H&M.
According to Forbes, Sy started her corporate career as an assistant at the Manila Royal Hotel, her father’s first hotel business.
Today, Sy, who’s also fondly called by friends and colleagues as Betty, serves as the president and chairperson of SM Hotels and Conventions. It is the family’s business unit for its tourism, leisure, and hospitality engagements.
Some of the hotels that she manages are Taal Vista Hotel in Tagaytay, Radisson Blu Hotel in Cebu, Pico Sands Hotel in Hamilo Coast, Park Inn by Radisson in Davao, Park Inn by Radisson in Clark, Pampanga, and the deluxe 5-star hotel Conrad Manila in the Mall of Asia Complex in Pasay. (In the latest Star Award Winners, Forbes also included Conrad Manila among its “recommended” hotels)
Sy ranks 1,227th globally with estimated net worth of $1.9 billion.
Globally, more women were on this year’s list, too. Forbes listed a total of 243 women billionaires in 2019—almost triple the 91 women in 2010. In nine years, the number of women that made theÂexclusive list grew by 167 percent.
Francoise Bettencourt Meyers is the richest woman in the world, with a net worth of $50.6 billion. She is the granddaughter of the founder of giant cosmetics brand L'Oreal.
Despite the steady rise of women billionaires, they still are the minority. Women only comprise 11.3 percent of the total billionaire population of 2,153. This suggests that for inclusivity to truly manifest, there’s still a long way to go.
This story originally appeared on Esquiremag.ph.
* Minor edits have been made by the Entrepreneur.com.ph editors.