IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is partnering with the Ghana Stock Exchange and over 70 other stock exchanges around the world to “Ring the Bell for Gender Equality”—an initiative linked with International Women’s Day that promotes increased women’s participation in the global economy to catalyze sustainable and inclusive private sector growth.
Accelerating the pace of reforms to ensure gender equality could yield enormous benefits, with the potential to increase global gross domestic product by US$12 trillion in the next six years, according to a McKinsey Global Institute report.
“The business case is compelling and IFC research has recently highlighted that correcting gender imbalances could lead to important economic gains in developing countries,” said Ethiopis Tafara, IFC Vice President & General Counsel, Legal, Compliance Risk and Sustainability. “Failing to tap into all human capital represents a significant lost opportunity to boost growth,” he said.
Examples include increasing the flow of private equity and venture capital to women-owned businesses in emerging markets beyond the current 7 percent and accelerating the pace of women ascending to board and senior leadership positions.
The 2019 Ring the Bell for Gender Equality marks the fifth year of the partnership, which encourages participating stock exchanges to signal their commitment to gender equality by advocating for better gender balance and prioritizing diversity in their own corporate structures.
This can include implementing women-friendly workplace policies, developing female-oriented investment products, reporting to shareholders on diversity practices, encouraging or requiring listed companies to disclose gender metrics, and increasing the number of women on their boards and in senior leadership.
“Stock exchanges represent a powerful alliance to push for equitable economic opportunities and promote gender equality as part of a broader emphasis on environment, social and governance issues,” said Mary Porter Peschka, Director for ESG at IFC. “As business leaders, entrepreneurs, employees and consumers, women are fundamental to inclusive growth,” she said.
IFC’s support for gender-smart business solutions include working with companies in developing countries to generate opportunities for women that also contribute to the bottom-line. The institution leverages its relationship with over 2,000 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 over 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 by 2030.