WASHINGTON, KalderaNews.com – For the fourth consecutive year, IFC and stock exchanges around the world will “Ring the Bell for Gender Equality” to celebrate International Women’s Day 2018—a partnership that highlights how the private sector can spur women’s participation in the global economy and promote sustainable development.
“With over $18 trillion in purchasing power, women have the power to transform the global economy,” said Azam Khan, IFC Country Manager for Indonesia, Malaysia and Timor-Leste. “We must drive economic development through gender equality.”
Studies show that female talent is among the least utilized economic and business resources around the world. Making even small inroads in closing the global gender gap could quickly yield strong results, with the potential to increase global gross domestic product by $5.3 trillion over the next seven years, according to a 2017 report from the World Economic Forum. For listed companies, failure to capitalize on these resources—for example, by adding more women to their boards and ranks of senior leadership—represents a substantial opportunity cost.
This year’s Ring the Bell events include over 60 stock exchanges. Participating organizations are encouraged to take a public stand to signal their commitment to gender equality, such as signing onto the Women’s Empowerment Principles, guidelines on empowering women in the workplace, marketplace and community.
Participating exchanges also are encouraged to prioritize diversity in their own corporate structures—by implementing gender-friendly workplace policies; developing female-oriented investment products; reporting to shareholders on diversity objectives, policies, and practices; and increasing the number of women holding board and senior leadership positions.
IFC welcomes the unified voice that stock exchanges add in advocating for equal gender representation on companies’ boards and senior management. Studies such as the Catalyst analysis of the U.S. Fortune 500 have found that firms with gender-diverse boards outperform those with male-only boards by as much as 53 percent as measured by returns on equity. Ring the Bell participants are acknowledging what the evidence demonstrates: that shattering corporate glass ceilings is a smart business strategy.
“As business leaders, entrepreneurs, employees and consumers, women are fundamental to inclusive growth—creating business models that boost job growth, build capital markets and raise per-capita incomes while promoting sustainable development,” said IFC Jingdong Hua, IFC Vice President and Treasurer.
IFC’s support for gender-smart business solutions includes working with companies in developing countries to generate opportunities for women that also contribute to bottom-line benefits. The institution leverages its relationship with over 1,000 financial institutions and private equity funds to expand access to finance for female entrepreneurs. It also promotes good corporate-governance practices such as board diversity. IFC has 30 percent female representation among nominee directors on the boards of its own investee companies today, and aims to increase that rate to 50 percent
The “Ring the Bell for Gender Equality” event is a partnership of IFC, Sustainable Stock Exchanges (SSE) Initiative, the UN Global Compact, UN Women, Women in ETFs, and the World Federation of Stock Exchanges. (JS)