Mar 09, Colombo: Sri Lanka's Colombo Stock Exchange recently joined the Sri Lanka Institute of Directors (SLID), International Finance Corporation (IFC) - a member of the World Bank Group, UN Global Compact, UN Women, the World Federation of Exchanges, Women in ETFs and the Sustainable Stock Exchanges (SSE) Initiative to ring the opening bell for gender equality.
These bell‐ringing events are taking place in exchanges around the world to highlight the pivotal role of the private sector in empowering women in the workplace, marketplace and community.
Vajira Kulatilaka, Chairman of CSE speaking at the event stated that CSE strongly believes that gender equality is essential for a high‐performing and talent‐led organization.
"We believe that enabling the potential of women is central to ensuring sustainable and inclusive development, both in business and the community," the Chairman said.
"Through the CSE's policies, practices and initiatives, we remain committed to creating an environment for women to rise to their potential, both in the workplace and community. We would therefore like to pledge our continued support to ensure gender equality and the full participation of women at all levels of society," he added.
Chairperson of the Sri Lanka Institute of Directors Ms. Shiromal Cooray thanked IFC and CSE for partnering SLID in what is a symbolic bell‐ringing commemoration and stated "Throughout the year, we will be conducting a series of programs focused on empowerment for women in the workplace with special focus given to Women on Boards. Paving the way for women to embrace leadership roles in the corporate world and discussing the issues faced by women in leadership are key objectives of these programs."
Speaking on the initiative, Senior Operations Officer of IFC Graeme A. Harris said that International Women's Day for 2016 will be themed on "Pledging for Parity", marking a commitment by both men and women to take action to accelerate gender parity.
He said the idea for the symbolism of bell‐ringing is an initiative based on the 7 principles for women's empowerment established by UN Global Compact and UN Women. "The principles emphasize the business case for corporate action to promote gender parity and women's empowerment. Globally, CEOs of companies have been invited to sign statements of support to the seven principles."
Country Director for Sri Lanka and Maldives at the World Bank Mrs. Françoise Clottes, said that the initiative is not only a call for equality but a call for business efficiency, given the effective contribution made by women to the corporate sector around the world.
She also pointed out the importance of more effective policy making in a bid to promote gender diversity in the boardroom and at leadership roles in the corporate sector.
Ms. Ramani Muttettuwegama, Senior Partner at Tiruchelvam Associates pointed out the lack of female representation in leadership roles in the corporate sector and urged corporates to empower and recognize women for their contribution.
"In a country where over the last few years women have begun to be appointed to our Supreme Court, where our public service is being dominated by women and the academia is almost all‐over Sri Lanka completely dominated by women, it should be a matter of great concern that the corporate sector lags so far behind - given that as Madam Clottes said, there is absolutely no block to women participating in this sector and moving upwards."