Manila, 31 March 2021 - Quisumbing Torres (QT) celebrated International Women's Month in collaboration with the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Makati.

In line with this year's theme, Choose to Challenge, a virtual event featuring Lean In's digital program entitled 50 Ways to Fight Bias was held on 31 March 2021. Lean In is a global community dedicated to helping women achieve their ambitions. Guest speaker and current chair of the Women Inter-Industry Network Catherine "Kitkat" Mijares presented key points of the program, led interactive discussions with the participants, and provided recommendations on what can be done to fight this bias.

The webinar highlighted the common types of bias against women as the first step to understanding the importance of the campaign:

  • Likeability bias - Men are expected to be assertive. So when they lead, it feels natural. In contrast, women are expected to be kind and communal. So when they assert themselves, they are liked less.
  • Performance bias - Women's abilities are underestimated while men's abilities are overestimated.
  • Maternal bias - Motherhood triggers false assumptions that women are less committed to their careers — and even less competent.
  • Attribution bias - Women are seen as less competent than men. They are given less credit for their accomplishments and are blamed more for their mistakes.
  • Affinity bias - People gravitate toward those who are similar in appearance, beliefs, and background. Those viewed differently are disliked.
  • Intersectionality - Bias is not limited to gender. Women can also experience biases due to their race, sexual orientation, a disability, or other aspects of their identity.

"At QT, we are proud of our culture of diversity and inclusion (D&I)," emphasized Gil Zerrudo, who leads the firm's CSR and D&I initiatives, and is a member of the firm's management committee. "Choose to Challenge is a call to action not only for women but also all allies toward our common goal: to create an inclusive world. I believe the best D&I strategy is to ensure that inclusiveness precedes diversity."

He further explained, "Inclusion is more concerned with whether or not an individual feels respected, accepted, valued, and encouraged to fully participate in the workplace. This means that while companies can create a balanced management team and hire a diverse workforce, it is all meaningless unless the culture offers a safe place for these individuals to feel that their voices are being heard." Gil's challenge for men is to stand with women and other genders in their daily struggles and the eradication of patriarchal constructs so that they may have access to equal freedom, equal respect and equal opportunities. He also calls on women in leadership to use their influence, and to be catalysts and active promoters of inclusion and diversity.

"While I am glad to be part of a firm that is keen on providing equal opportunities for women in the workplace and celebrating our accomplishments and the value that we bring to the table, others may not be as fortunate," said Intellectual Property, Data and Technology partner Reena Mitra-Ventanilla. "Knowing that bias exists is not enough. We need to actively call out and address any bias that we see or encounter, and we need to challenge ourselves and those around us to do better," she added. Reena leads the firm's D&I Subcommittee on Women.

QT's D&I lead partner Alain Charles Veloso expressed, "A challenged world is an alert world, and from challenge comes change. We cannot fix a problem unless we acknowledge that the problem exists. Biases against women and other minorities in the workplace exist. We need to be mindful of these biases and address them at the outset so that we can build inclusive workplaces where women and other minorities can thrive." Charles is a partner in the firm's Corporate & Commercial/M&A practice group where almost 60% of lawyers are female.

QT as a firm has an inclusive and diverse workplace culture that celebrates equality across many dimensions such as gender, gender identity and expression, culture and ethnicity, religion and sexual orientation. Establishing and promoting the organization's D&I policies is not just the right thing to do, it is the smart thing to do.