Bells Ring around the world to signal that Gender Equality is fundamental to business

(New York, 6 March 2017) – Today, UN Sustainable Stock Exchanges initiative launched a new report with GIZ, which highlights how exchanges can and are advancing UN Sustainable Development Goal 5 on gender equality. It cites a number of imperative challenges:

Click here to download the new guide

  • Women take home 1/10 of global income while accounting for 2/3 of global working hours;
  • Girls and women have equal access to education in only 25 countries;
  • 1/3 experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetimes;
  • According to a 2016 review of 1,000 listed companies by Bloomberg LP, the average representation of women in the leadership was 23% in senior management; 21% on boards; 4% have a female chairperson; and 3% have a female CEO.

However, there is evidence of a business case:

  • Female representation in leadership has shown to improve performance metrics such as ROA, ROE, and EPS while reducing volatility;
  • Family leave can boost employee morale, reducing turnover and making it easier for businesses to retain skilled workers
  • If better served, women-owned small businesses could add around $285 billion to the global economy
  • The global economy could be up to $28 trillion larger in 2025 if gender gaps were eliminated.

Gender equality is a top priority of the international sustainability agenda. Businesses are also improving their practices, developing public-private partnerships, and investing resources to achieve gender equality and long-term financial value. While it is increasingly recognizing that advancing gender equality through business operations and value chains means better talent, higher productivity, more customers, and a stronger bottom line, progress remains slow.  To achieve the UN SDGs, the private sector needs to continue to advance at a fast pace.

It is facts like these that brought together a global movement.

Now in its third iteration, a global collaboration across 43 stock exchanges around the world will “Ring the Bell for Gender Equality” in line with International Women’s Day 2017. These events are organized as a partnership by the Sustainable Stock Exchanges Initiative, together with the UN Global Compact, UN Women, the IFC, Women in ETFs and the World Federation of Exchanges to raise awareness about the opportunities for the private sector to advance gender equality and sustainable development. The key message being that gender equality is central to driving the global economy and the private sector has an important role to play.

The Ring the Bell event series, themed Women at Work, will serve to highlight the role of and opportunity for business. This will involve encouraging stakeholders to remove legal, social, and economic barriers that are restricting women’s economic empowerment.  The event series is a partnership of the Sustainable Stock Exchanges Initiative, together with the UN Global CompactUN WomenIFCWomen in ETFs and the World Federation of Stock Exchanges.

As part of the events, participants are encouraged to make commitments to improve gender equality in their markets, such as signing the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs), improving diversity in senior management and on the board, developing more gender-friendly policies, developing a gender-themed investment product, or improving transparency on gender policies and practices. For a more extensive list of actions stock exchanges can take to advance gender equality, please download the SSE and GIZ report here, and the quick reference guide here.


About the Partner Organizations

IFC

As a member of the World Bank Group, IFC is the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in emerging markets. Working with 2,000 businesses worldwide, we use our six decades of experience to create opportunity where it’s needed most. In FY16, our long-term investments in developing countries rose to nearly $19 billion, leveraging our capital, expertise and influence to help the private sector end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity. For more information, visit www.ifc.org.

Sustainable Stock Exchanges Initiative

The SSE is a peer-to-peer learning platform for exploring how exchanges—in collaboration with investors, regulators, and companies—can encourage sustainable investment and enhance corporate transparency, and ultimately performance, on ESG (environmental, social and corporate governance) issues. The SSE is convened by the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the UN Global Compact, the UN Environment Program Finance Initiative (UNEP FI), and the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI).  For more information on specific exchanges’ sustainability efforts, how to become a Partner Stock Exchange, and further opportunities to advance the integration of sustainability within capital markets, visit www.sseinitiative.org. Follow us on Twitter: @sseinitiative

UN Global Compact

The United Nations Global Compact is a call to companies everywhere to align their operations and strategies with ten universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption, and to take action in support of UN goals and issues embodied in the Sustainable Development Goals. The UN Global Compact is a leadership platform for the development, implementation and disclosure of responsible corporate practices. Launched in 2000, it is the largest corporate sustainability initiative in the world, with more than 8,000 companies and 4,000 non-business signatories based in over 170 countries, and more than 85 Local Networks. For more information, visit www.unglobalcompact.org. Follow us on Twitter: @globalcompact

UN Women

UN Women is the UN organization dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women. A global champion for women and girls, UN Women was established to accelerate progress on meeting their needs worldwide. UN Women supports UN Member States as they set global standards for achieving gender equality, and works with governments and civil society to design laws, policies, programmes and services needed to implement these standards. UN Women also coordinates and promotes the UN system’s work in advancing gender equality. For more information, visit www.unwomen.org

Women in ETFs

Women in ETFs is the first women’s group for the ETF industry. Founded in January 2014, WE is a non-profit organization that brings together over 2,500 members, including women and men, in chapters in major financial centers across the United States, Canada, EMEA and Asia Pacific to further the careers of women by leveraging our collective skill and ambition.

Women in ETFs brings together women and men in the ETF industry in the United States, Canada, EMEA and Asia Pacific to: 1. CONNECT: Create opportunities for professional advancement of women by expanding connections among women and men in the ETF industry, 2. SUPPORT: Offer guidance for the current and next generation of women in ETFs and 3. INSPIRE: Provide forums for education and idea sharing across the industry and beyond. For more information, visit: www. womeninetfs.com  Follow us on Twitter: @WomeninETFs. Follow us on Linkedin: Women in ETFs

World Federation of Exchanges (WFE):

Established in 1961, the WFE is the global industry association for exchanges and clearing houses. The WFE is the definitive source for exchange-traded statistics and publishes over 350 market data indicators. WFE exchanges are home to nearly 45,000 listed companies. The WFE promotes the development of fair, efficient and transparent markets. It works with policy makers, regulators and standard-setters around the world to support the development of effective rules and standards for exchanges and market participants. For more information, please visit: https://www.world-exchanges.org

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