IFC and Colombo Stock Exchange Partner to Ring the Bell for Gender Equality

Colombo, Sri Lanka, March 7, 2018— IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, has partnered with the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) for the third consecutive year to ring the opening bell for trading to celebrate International Women’s Day 2018—a partnership that 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.

Making the keynote speech at the ceremony, Professor Maithree Wickramasinghe said “Equality involves accepting commonality – considering the common rights of men and women. It involves ensuring equal employment, promotion and opportunities for men and women, equal access to credit, resources, concessions, markets and benefits, and so on.”

“At the Colombo Stock Exchange, we encourage companies to prioritize diversity in their own corporate structures by implementing gender-friendly workplace policies; developing female-oriented investment products; reporting on diversity objectives, policies, and practices; and increasing the number of women holding board and senior leadership positions,” Rajeeva Bandaranaike, CEO, Colombo Stock Exchange.

In Sri Lanka, latest research indicates that about 8 percent of listed company board directors are women. While this compares well with the rest of Asia, more can be done. To generate a conversation on women’s leadership, this year’s event in Sri Lanka debuted a film celebrating the diversity of female leadership amongst CSE-listed companies and a women-on-boards directory.

“Women across emerging markets like Sri Lanka are making vital contributions to private sector growth through strong corporate leadership,” said Amena Arif, IFC County Manager for Sri Lanka and Maldives. “We are excited to work with our partners though the DFAT-IFC Women in Work program to expand the discussion on board diversity and help more companies retain and attract senior women to serve on their boards.”

This year’s Ring the Bell events include 59 stock exchanges globally. IFC welcomes the unified voice that stock exchanges add in advocating for equal gender representation on companies’ boards and senior management. Studies such as the Catalyst analysis of the U.S. Fortune 500 have found that firms with gender-diverse boards outperform those with male-only boards by as much as 53 percent as measured by returns on equity. Ring the Bell participants are acknowledging what the evidence demonstrates: that shattering corporate glass ceilings is a smart business strategy.

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.

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.

About IFC

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 in the toughest areas of the world. In FY17, we delivered a record $19.3 billion in long-term financing for developing countries, leveraging the power of the private sector to help end poverty and boost shared prosperity. For more information, visit www.ifc.org

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About the Colombo Stock Exchange

The Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) is the nucleus of Sri Lanka’s capital market as the licensed operator of the stock market. The CSE is regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission of Sri Lanka (SEC) and was incorporated as a company limited by guarantee over 30 years ago. Alongside the wider community which interacts with us, our core stakeholder base constitutes of 31 Members and Trading Members, 298 issuers, 750,000 investors and other stakeholders.  The CSE acts as a conduit of both equity and debt capital and provides the necessary market infrastructure to buyers and sellers in order to transact. Our main trading infrastructure comprises the Automated Trading System (ATS), a multi-asset class, scalable and versatile platform supporting future growth efforts. Our post-trade services comprise central securities depository based clearing (CSD Clearing), settlement and safekeeping provided through a fully owned subsidiary, Central Depository Systems (Private) Limited (CDS).  For more information, visit www.cse.lk.

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, labor, 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 9,500 companies and 3,000 non-business signatories based in over 160 countries, and more than 70 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, programs 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 3,700 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: WE achieves this by organizing events at our chapters globally that support our goals of education, networking, philanthropy and idea sharing across the industry and beyond. For more information, visit: www. womeninetfs.com to learn more, join, or sponsor. Follow us on Twitter: @WomeninETFs and 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