In the photo (L-R): Patricia Poco-Palacios (Global Dominion president & COO), Riza Mantaring (Sun Life Financial Philippines former CEO & country head), and Stephanie Chung (eCompareMo CEO)
The Philippines is generally doing fine when it comes to gender equality --- females are more likely to enter college and be in higher-paying positions in companies, and women occupying high government positions is not an unusual scene. Compared to other nations, women in the country have high levels of access to economic opportunities (David et al., 2017 & 2018). This is far from its historical gender equality stature when there were much fewer women than men enter colleges and only a handful become professionals (Sobritchea, 1989).
Specific to finance, studies support the benefits of allowing women to take due leadership roles in firms. Having female executive officers is positively related to having good financial performance (Shrader et al., 1997; Smith et al., 2006; Francoeur et al., 2008; and Strom et al., 2014).
However, the count of female leaders in senior management roles dipped from 48 percent in 2021 to 39 percent in 2022 according to a report from P&A Grant Thornton.
The challenge is in cultivating a culture and promoting an environment that’s more supportive of career growth for women. Three finance industry leaders share their insights.
“I have found that often, when females do not assume senior leadership roles, it is because they don’t want to,” said the former CEO and country head of Sun Life Financial Philippines, Riza Mantaring. “Many women still feel that they are primarily responsible for the home and for caring for their children. This makes them hesitate to take on more responsibility for fear that it could impact their ability to care for their families,” she added. To these, Mantaring suggested some actions such as providing child-care facilities for emergency situations and holding training sessions during working hours rather than after hours.
Aside from being a result of personal choices, what society has to say as a whole seems to be driving the inequality, as well. “The cooperation of society in consciously accepting that women are marginalized and need support in order to thrive,” is critical in addressing the issue according to eCompareMo CEO leaders was described by Chung as, “more robust” and that in firms more opinions will be heard, more discussions will be opened.
“More than just having women in leadership roles for the sake of it, the more important issue that must be addressed is equitable representation of all genders in the workplace,” said Global Dominion President & COO Patricia Poco-Palacios. “This allows for a more connected and psychologically safe environment, cognizant of the needs and issues of the workforce,” she added. More than half of the officers in Global Dominion are females and the company has been led by two women out of a total of three presidents in its 20 years in the industry.
“We have to remember, too, that gender-inclusiveness doesn’t just mean women, but providing a welcoming and nurturing environment for LGBTQA+ too.” - Riza Mantaring
“The industry will be all the better for it since men and women both can contribute equally but differently.” - Stephanie Chung
“As leaders we want to make sure that as many perspectives are heard, and we can support each other in the best way we can. This makes it easier for collaboration and productivity, especially when we are pushing for ambitious goals together.” - Patricia Poco-Palacios.