IFC, SECM, and Myanmar Stock Exchange ring the bell for gender equality
Yangon, Myanmar, March 9, 2018—IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, the Securities and Exchange Commission of Myanmar (SECM) and the Yangon Stock Exchange (YSX), are joining stock exchanges around the world to ‘Ring the Bell for Gender Equality” to celebrate International Women’s Day 2018. The initiative highlights how the private sector can spur women’s participation in the global economy and promote sustainable development.
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.
“This is the second time that the event — ‘Ring the Bell for Gender Equality’ — is being held on the Yangon Stock Exchange trading floor and we are honored to host this bell ringing ceremony,” said Daw Tin May Oo, Commission Member of the Securities and Exchange Commission of Myanmar. “We hope that this initiative can help further the advocacy for gender equality in companies in Myanmar.”
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.
In Myanmar, several prominent institutions — including the Business Coalition for Gender Equality, Myanmar Institute of Directors (MIoD), Professional Women Network (PWN) and WomenCorporateDirectors (WCD), Myanmar Chapter — joined IFC, SECM, and YSX for the event.
“Research shows that empowering women is not only the right thing to do, but also the smart thing to do. It can lead to increases in GDP, productivity, return on investment, and also ensure organizational effectiveness,” said Vikram Kumar, IFC Country Manager for Myanmar. “IFC welcomes the unified voice that stock exchanges add in advocating for gender equality through to the very top of corporate organizational charts.”
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.
Now in its fourth edition, 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.