Banks with heart: Women at BSP lead the way in gender equality

Jessica Fenol, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 02 2018 12:10 PM | Updated as of Apr 02 2018 12:11 PM

Bangko Sentral Deputy Governor Chuchi Fonacier. BSP photo

MANILA - Women should be given more representation in bank boards so that the industry can capitalize on their strengths while helping close the gender gap, Bangko Sentral Deputy Governor Chuchi Fonacier said.

Two of the three deputies of BSP Gov Nestor Espenilla are women -- Fonacier, who is in charge of supervising banks, and Cyd Amador, who is in charge of the resource management sector.

In the boards of big banks, however, women occupy only a fifth of available positions, according to BSP data.

While they may not be able to strike deals over bottles of beer or a game of golf, women can address issues "in a way that is not offensive," she said.

Women are also more intuitive, more patient and pay more attention to details, traits that are useful in decision making.

"Given that gender equality concerns and efforts are at the forefront, I am positive that the disparity of men’s and women’s representation in top positions will be on a decreasing trend," Fonacier told ABS-CBN News.

The BSP advocates diversity "because women bring in a different perspective in, among others, decision making process and in the way personnel are being engaged," she said.

Several laws, including the Magna Carta of Women, the Women in Development and Nation Building Act and the Act Giving Representations to Women in the Social Security Commission, are in place to ensure women's participation, she said.

GENDER GAP

The Philippines leads Asia in terms of gender equality. However, the country's world ranking in the World Economic Forum's Gender Gap Report slipped 3 notches to 10th place last year.

Fonacier, who started as a bank examiner in 1984, said her appointment as deputy governor was a surprise.

"I have never thought career-wise that I would someday become the Head of the SES (Supervision and Examination Sector). What I did was to focus on my work and consciously to deliver what is expected of me," Fonacier told ABS CBN News.

Fonacier said she avoided falling into the "trap" of a "pwede na (it will do)" mindset.

"You can have fulfillment for as long as your personal standards are met and you will not feel frustrated even if you are not being recognized in your work."

The first female to head the government's economic think-tank PIDS or the Philippine Institute for Development Studies, likewise called for increased opportunities for women.

PIDS president Celia Reyes also made reference to the World Economic Forum report.

"This is something we need to focus on not because we have retrogressed but because other countries are also doing a lot more in terms of making sure they have gender equality," she said in a statement.