Bangladesh tops South Asia for female leadership in listed companies: study

Women’s leadership in listed companies increased by 1% despite Covid

IFC, DSE, UN Women and the UN Global Compact hosted an event called “Ring the Bell for Gender Equality” on International Women’s Day. Photo: Collected


IFC, DSE, UN Women and the UN Global Compact hosted an event called “Ring the Bell for Gender Equality” on International Women’s Day. Photo: Collected

Bangladesh still leads the South Asian region in terms of female leadership in listed companies, according to a new study by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the Dhaka Stock Exchange (DSE).

The new figures show there has been an increase in the percentage of female independent directors at listed companies from 5% in 2020 to 6%, despite the impact of Covid-19, which has disproportionately affected women, a the IFC said in a press release. out today.

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“A 2020 IFC-DSE study showed at the time that approximately 18% of directors of listed companies were women, which remained the same. In terms of women on the boards of listed companies, the Bangladesh still tops the South Asia region,” he said. .

The results were revealed at an event marking International Women’s Day. IFC, DSE, UN Women and the UN Global Compact organized the program.

IFC partnered with DSE, UN Women and the UN Global Compact for the seventh consecutive year to “ring the bell for gender equality”.

While emphasizing the role of women in building a more equal future, the annual event also highlights how greater participation of women in the economy can drive sustainable and inclusive growth.

Speaking at the event, Nathalie Chuard, Swiss Ambassador to Bangladesh, said: “As Bangladesh begins its graduation from LDC status, ensuring gender equality is all the more essential for a transition that leaves no one behind”.

“As a committed and long-standing bilateral partner, Switzerland attaches particular importance to gender equality and social inclusion in all its engagements in Bangladesh,” Chuard said.

Tarique Amin Bhuiyan, Managing Director of DSE, said that DSE remains fully committed to closing the gender gap and promoting the role of women in leadership, especially in listed companies.

“Promoting the role of women in business will not only create a more diverse management team, but will also help private sector companies create value, bring in new ideas, enhance transparency and promote inclusive growth. “, did he declare.

Meanwhile, in a new joint report titled “How Stock Exchanges Can Advance Gender Equality: Updated Guidance and Best Practices,” the United Nations Sustainable Stock Exchanges (SSE) initiative and the IFC identify three major areas where scholarships can play a role in promoting gender equality, the press release said.

These include promoting gender-focused and/or gender-sensitive products and services, strengthening market performance on gender equality and leading by example.

“Investing in women’s economic empowerment is both the right thing to do and the smart thing to do, as it paves the direct path to gender equality, poverty eradication and inclusive economic growth” said Gitanjali Singh, head of UN Women Bangladesh office. .

The report offers advice on implementing gender-responsive action plans, such as supporting the list of gender-focused financial instruments, removing barriers to gender equality on boards of management and senior management, promoting increased transparency on gender performance through environmental, social and governance (ESG) expansion and setting gender targets for listed companies.

IFC’s commitment to Ring the Bell is part of its strong focus on gender equality, which includes leveraging relationships with financial institutions to expand access to finance for women entrepreneurs and increase the number of women in leadership positions.

“IFC has a long history of engagement in capital markets efforts to support women as economic actors,” said Martin Holtmann, IFC country director for Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal.

“We are well aware that having more women in leadership positions makes economic sense for businesses and is also linked to better environmental, social and corporate governance standards and practices.”

“That’s why IFC works with multiple stakeholders in Bangladesh, including the stock exchange, regulators and businesses,” Holtmann said.

The Women’s Day event included a panel discussion on the business case for gender diversity on boards, according to the press release.

Participants included Zareen Mahmud Hosein; Snehasish Mahmud; Melita Mehjabeen, Associate Professor at IBA University of Dhaka, and Shamarukh Fakhruddin, Director of Urmi Group.

The discussion was moderated by Shahamin Zaman, Executive Director of Global Compact Network Bangladesh (GCNB) and Md Eunusur Rahman, Chairman of Dhaka Stock Exchange Limited, delivered closing remarks.

The global partnership with Sustainable Stock Exchange, IFC, UN Women and “UN Global Compact” began in 2015 to ring the bell for gender equality and this year more than 120 stock exchanges participated in events around the world to raise awareness of gender equality. equality.

Mara R. Wilmoth