Women’s work values should be mainstreamed and incentivized in business, Philippine Chief Justice Lourdes Sereno told the APEC Business Advisory Council on Saturday.
Women’s emphasis on self-fulfillment, family and other relationships, and time flexibility, as well as their multi-faceted, consensual, and intuitive leadership styles should be incorporated in business practices.
These values and leadership style should be encouraged, and not taken against women.
“We as a group are for multi-faceted leadership that is also consensual, intuitive, community-based, engendering family-typed feelings. These should be recognized and amply rewarded,” Sereno said.
“The female style must be recognized by mainstream business literature on the restructuring of economies,” she added.
Non-economic goals beyond quality of life or human development indices can be achieved when the person’s feelings are considered. The legal structure, for its part, must do its part, the chief justice said.
“Substantive law must respond. We need to make the playing field fair, predictable, and transparent, with open information, simpler rules, and Internet-friendly,” Sereno said.
“There should be incentives to family-friendly employers… there should be incentives for networking that does not destroy family time,” she added.
In the Philippines, among those laws that may need to be updated are the Labor Code and the Tax Code, she said.
“For example, the Labor Code of 1974 and the tax regimes circa 1990s are the two major business frameworks for regulations that may need judicial review so that they would have predictability and fairness,” she said.
However, the chief justice refused to specify the provisions that need changes as legal questions might be raised before her court.
More women have joined the formal labor force, many doing in business process outsourcing working in night shifts.
The Labor Code prohibits, among others, night work for women, while the Tax Code provides for different tax exemptions for single and married people.
Responding to a question from an ABAC member from Hong Kong on how to include more men in child and home care, Sereno proposed the expansion of paternity and family leaves.
In her welcome remarks and introduction of Sereno, ABAC 2015 chair Doris Magsaysay Ho said Sereno, as the Philippines’ first female chief justice, was invited because ABAC’s work involves recommending policies to leaders to, among others, make workplaces more women-friendly.
At the same time, Ho said ABAC seeks to make economies more transparent and predictable. Sereno is able to marry these ideas of women, business, and rule of law.
“Many economies have opened trade and investment with laws, only to find major impediments around unfriendly laws or unfriendly interpretation of friendly laws or friendly interpretation of bad laws,” she said.