Honiara, Solomon Islands, November 5, 2019
– More than 6,500 employees working for the biggest companies in Solomon
Islands are now benefiting from more equal, supportive and respectful workplaces,
with a marked rise in the numbers who feel safe at work, in the wake of
a two-year initiative on gender equality.
These findings are contained in a report
assessing the Waka Mere Commitment to Action, which showed the number of
employees who did not feel comfortable or safe at work fell from 25 percent
two years ago to just 10 percent. It is a huge shift in a nation where
64 percent of women experience violence in their lifetimes and its effects
often spill into the workplace. Research by IFC, a member of the World
Bank Group, has found 80 percent of employees who experienced violence
were impacted at work; with 20 percent of them in the same workplace as
Jointly led by IFC and the Solomon Islands
Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SICCI), and with support from the Australian
and New Zealand governments, the Waka Mere initiative catalyzed companies
to adopt new policies and practices to close the gaps between men and women,
improve corporate culture, invest in future female leaders, and offer women
skills training and jobs in roles traditionally held by men. Business outcomes
also improved, with increased productivity and innovation, decreased absenteeism
and reduced employee turnover.
“We are proud of Solomon Islands companies
that are taking the lead in this important area. It is exciting to see
talented new leaders emerging and ready to serve the community in so many
different ways. I commend you all for your efforts and achievements in
this important initiative,” said Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh
Under Waka Mere, which means She Works in
pidgin, many women who took part in leadership training, with 80
percent of the first set of trainees receiving a promotion or new responsibilities.
In a nation where women seldom drive, seven companies trained women drivers.
participating companies saw a jump in loyalty, with more employees comfortable
to recommend their employer to male and female friends.
“Waka Mere demonstrates businesses can bring
cultural changes on gender issues, even in traditionally male dominated
spaces,” said Atenasi Ata, SICCI Chief Executive Officer. “The
benefits of this program have been felt across our companies and beyond
the 15 participating companies to our larger membership.”
“Investing in women is a great opportunity
for business, with the potential for so many benefits, such as improved
productivity, staff retention, and enhanced profits. It’s great to see
these companies take the initiative to empower women, making for better
business, happier workplaces and contributing to a stronger economy,”
said IFC’s Country Manager for the Pacific, Thomas Jacobs.
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
where they are needed most. In fiscal year 2019, we delivered more than
$19 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.
Solomon Islands Partnership
IFC’s work in Solomon Islands is guided by the Pacific Partnership. Australia,
New Zealand and IFC are working together through the Partnership to stimulate
private sector investment and reduce poverty in the Pacific.