(New York, 8 March 2016) Thirty-four stock exchanges worldwide are “Ringing the Bell for Gender Equality” from March 3-11. Many exchanges will be ringing their market opening or closing bells today, March 8, to coincide with International Women’s Day. Over the course of the week, bells will ring from Egypt to Australia, from Cote d’Ivoire to Peru, from the USA to the South Pacific.
These thirty-four exchanges join the Sustainable Stock Exchanges (SSE) Initiative, UN Global Compact, IFC,UN Women, Women in ETFs and the World Federation of Stock Exchanges to “Ring the Bell for Gender Equality,” and highlight the business case for women’s economic empowerment, as well as opportunities for the private sector to advance gender equality and sustainable development.
The first bell rang at the Nairobi Securities Exchange last Friday, 3 March, and the series will conclude on 11 March at Bursa Malaysia. Events range from stand-alone bell ringing ceremonies to half-day educational programs on topics such as gender diversity on boards and in management of listed companies, as well as implementation of the Women’s Empowerment Principles. At all events, exchanges have secured participation by female leaders in their local markets.
Fiona Reynolds, Managing Director of the PRI noted: “There have been numerous studies over the last several years, which show that companies with diversity in senior management and on boards perform better and deliver superior shareholder value. We have come a long way but many challenges remain. Investors can play a significant role in this debate by engaging companies on the benefits of gender diversity.” Fiona will speak at the London Stock Exchange’s opening bell ceremony this morning.
These events are in line with the SSE’s larger effort to contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In September 2015, the SSE published an SDG briefing document in advance of its SDG Leaders’ Luncheon at the New York Stock Exchange, which identified Goal 5, Gender Equality, as one of four SDGs stock exchanges are best positioned to support.
Below is an array of quotes from participating SSE Partner Exchanges commenting on the important awareness raising these events provide, and the critical role advancing gender equality could have on their markets.
“The Egyptian Exchange has a clear interest in supporting women’s empowerment and integrating the Women’s Empowerment Principles into the stock market. We are encouraging gender equality among listed companies and other financial market stakeholders as part of EGX’s commitment to promote sustainability in the Egyptian Financial Market.The private sector plays an essential and pivotal role in supporting women’s economic empowerment all around the world. You could act as a leading entity to change the wage gap, ensure equality in the workplace and to support women as leaders in the business community. I am proud to have a woman on the EGX board of directors and as the top advisor to the EGX chairman.” Dr. Mohammed Omran, Chairman of The Egyptian Exchange
“Bursa Malaysia is committed to raising awareness for Gender Equality as part of a global initiative under the auspices of the Sustainable Stock Exchanges Initiative. Advancing gender equality in the workplace makes good business sense and it must start with boards. Studies have shown that a gender neutral board and workforce delivers higher productivity, better organisational effectiveness and corporate value. To this end, Bursa Malaysia will look for ways to enhance and capitalise on the leadership skills of women in the capital market. The next generation of competition is putting greater emphasis on our role as an Exchange to ensure a more sustainable marketplace. Today’s event marks another step in our sustainability journey as we strive to be a model for emerging markets in the adoption of global sustainability practices and initiatives.” Datuk Seri Tajuddin Atan, CEO of Bursa Malaysia
“Gender diversity is a value that may and should be supported and promoted by stock exchanges, as they are opinion leaders in entrepreneurial, investors’ and even wider circles of civic societies. While it is important to speak and raise awareness about gender diversity and equality and their meaningfulness for sustainable growth, it is equally important to create instruments to preserve it and serve the deployment of that value in practice.” Ludwik Sobolewski, CEO of Bucharest Stock Exchange
“We are proud today to host such a wonderful event for International Women’s Day supporting and highlighting gender equality and women’s role in business life. The progress we have seen in women’s presence in paid employment during the last 20-30 years is very exciting. Being one of the most recent signatories to Women’s Empowerment Principles, Borsa İstanbul will continue to actively take part in any initiative aiming to improve gender equality and women’s leadership in business.” Tuncay Dinç, CEO of Borsa İstanbul
“This event brings much needed attention to the obstruction and ignorance that many women face, especially as they aspire to corporate positions of power and influence. A functional, sustainable economy requires diverse participation at all levels. Empowering women to succeed—as entrepreneurs, innovators, executives, and board members—is an essential focus for our exchange and many of our listed companies.” Evan Harvey, Director of Corporate Responsibility at Nasdaq
To view a full list of participating exchanges click here.
The “Ring the Bell for Gender Equality” events were organized collaboratively by the SSE initiative, the UN Global Compact, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), UN Women, Women in ETFs, and the World Federation of Exchanges (WFE).
The 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