I’m following the events leading to the APEC Summit. Among these are the ABAC (APEC Business Advisory Council) events. Today was the ABAC Women’s Luncheon at Fairmont Hotel where Chief Justice Sereno delivered a speech. I gave her a standing ovation. She has perfectly pinned down women’s unique abilities in the world of business.
Excerpts of her speech:
Do we need to restructure parts of our economy or business models to increase women leadership in business? And I strongly feel, yes, more flexibilities must be built in the way we do our economic models. Philippine Labor Laws, for example, are modeled on a very rigid manufacturing type, hierarchical system of management. Women, on the other hand, use relationships very intensely and want a team effort philosophy to govern the way businesses are run.
You could also push for more flexibilities by not requiring that when an interviewee who is applying for a high position is saying and disclosing in her interview that she had interruptions in her career because she had to take care of an ailing parent or a child or a sickness in the family that that is not taken against her, but that be recognized as her ability to sacrifice her own personal goals for a higher objective.
I also wish that when an interviewee says that maximizing my potential income is not my life goal but it is to be of service to others and to maintain a work-life balance. You will appreciate that as a prospect of having an applicant, leader or employee who can bring also a sense of balance to your own organization.
Now, am I talking about this simply by reading the literature on women, business, leadership and the rule of law? No, I’m not.
I come here because of my own personal story. I gave up a stellar career because I graduated at the top of my law school, so naturally I was the target of the headhunters in my field and I opted out of the law firm life because I gave birth in my first—in my second year in the law office, and then four months later, I became pregnant again. So I had to decide pretty quickly because I knew very well what the consequence would be to those two children of having a mother who would come home past midnight every day. So I opted out of that fast track to go into the academe, which would allow me to have more control of my time.
And I was given all the dire warnings that very, very ambitious people give talented individuals: ‘You are going to regret forever your decision. When your kids hit high school and you cannot afford to give them the best kind of education, you will come to regret it. You are afraid of success.’ All of those stereotypical analyses of why an individual should choose a different path even though a very fantastic career opening is already there just waiting to be grabbed, nurtured and developed.
I did not need to speak to those warnings because it was very clear to me that if I do not succeed as an individual in my basic core function, which is to be a mother who is able to care for her children, to allow the family to be centered on the correct set of values even while I am developing my intellectual side and my, of course, my need to also feel that I can contribute to the community, if I do not attend to that, I will forever not know myself anymore.
And so I opted out and by God’s grace, I got fantastic consultancies one after the other even while I was raising two children. Sometimes I would bring the two children to consultancy meetings. They would find it funny. When I got my graduate degree in Harvard, I brought two children along with me on the stage to accept my diploma.
So, what I thought I was saying is: I am comfortable with myself. And I will be as excellent I can be in whatever position has been opened to me. Now, those people who told me, ‘you will forever regret it’, cannot say that anymore because I’m Chief Justice.
In other words, people should not negate the validity of the unorthodox path.
We must recognize female characteristics as equipped for solving certain situations and duly reward the same.
The complete transcript at apec2015.ph