Colombo, Sri Lanka, March 7, 2019—Marking
International Women’s Day, IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, partnered
with the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) for the fourth consecutive year to
ring the opening bell for trading. This annual global initiative is aimed
at promoting women’s participation in the global economy to catalyze sustainable
and inclusive private sector growth.
While the private sector is increasingly
recognizing that advancing gender equality means better talent, higher
productivity, more customers, and a stronger bottom line, progress remains
calculations show that Sri Lanka’s GDP could be 20 percent higher if female
workers had the opportunity to participate and contribute to the country’s
productivity. This exemplifies a case for business and markets to accelerate
the pace of reforms towards gender parity.
“Women are progressively at the helm of
some of the world’s most prominent corporates. Female participation in
business, political, executive leadership and on corporate boards should
be strongly encouraged,” said
Ray Abeywardena, Chairman, Colombo Stock
Empowering women in the workplace can also
generate financial returns in the private sector, as IFC’s latest research
reviewing the top 30 companies on the CSE highlights. Global research shows
that companies with at least one female director have better share price
performance and return on equity, and companies with more than one woman
on the board return 3.7 percent a year over those that have none.
In Sri Lanka, a recent research by IFC and
CSE indicates that about 8.5 percent of listed company board directors
are women – a marginal increase
from that of 8.14 percent last year.
“As business leaders, entrepreneurs, employees
and consumers, women are fundamental to inclusive growth,” said Amena
Arif, IFC Country Manager for Sri Lanka and Maldives. “We view the latest
statistics on Women on Boards in Sri Lanka as an important catalyst for
fresh commitments to diversity at the top and revitalized conversations
about harnessing the economic potential of more gender-balanced boards
in the country.”
This year’s Ring the Bell event in Colombo
marked the release of the aforementioned report “The Case for Gender
Diversity Among Sri Lanka’s Business Leadership”, as well as the
second edition of the Women on Boards Directory, a crucial repository of
136 women directors on the boards of CSE-listed companies in 2018.
The ‘Women on Boards’ program is part of
IFC’s broader efforts to increase women’s private sector participation
and leadership by promoting the adoption of corporate governance best practices
among Sri Lankan companies. IFC’s work in this area is supported by the
Australian government under an IFC-DFAT Women in Work partnership.
“Achieving gender equality does not just
benefit women; it benefits everyone. Australia has chosen to focus on women’s
economic empowerment in the private sector because this is where we see
greatest potential for impact,” said Jon Philp, Acting Australian High
Commissioner to Sri Lanka and the Maldives. “Our Women in Work partnership
will create more and better private sector employment and business opportunities
The “Ring the Bell for Gender Equality”
event is a partnership of IFC, Sustainable
Stock Exchanges (SSE) Initiative,
in ETFs, and the World
Federation of Exchanges.
This year, the event will be held in over
70 stock exchanges around the globe.
IFC—a sister organization of the World
Bank and member of the World Bank Group—is the largest global development
institution focused on the private sector in emerging markets. We work
with more than 2,000 businesses worldwide, using our capital, expertise,
and influence to create markets and opportunities in the toughest areas
of the world. In the fiscal year 2018, we delivered more than $23 billion
in long-term financing for developing countries, leveraging the power of
the private sector to end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity.
For more information, visit www.ifc.org