Monday September 25, 2023

Corporations awarded for improved women employment, workplace conditions

By Our Correspondent
June 08, 2022

The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) will ensure that there is a seven-per-cent rise in the women employment in the banking sector in Pakistan by the end of 2023.

SBP Deputy Governor Sima Kamil said this on Tuesday while speaking at the ‘Employer of Choice’ Gender Diversity Awards 2022. The award ceremony was hosted by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) in collaboration with the Pakistan Business Council (PBC).

Sima said the SBP was working on a banking equality policy in Pakistan and financial inclusion. Currently, there were 70 million male bank accounts holders in Pakistan and 14 million female account holders, she explained, adding that the SBP was looking forward to reducing this gap.

She remarked that there were 13 per cent women employment in the banking sector and the SBP had planned to enhance it to 20 per cent by the end of the next year. She, however, maintained that the SBP could not make it compulsory for the commercial banks to hire female staff. She said a few banks were reluctant to hire the female staff and some commercial banks were of the view that there was no role of women in the banking sector.

The awards were based on the results of the gender diversity and disclosure scorecard, a questionnaire developed jointly by the PBC and IFC focusing on how well firms had implemented and disclosed policies based on five principles — leadership and accountability, gender diversity, gender pay gaps, optimal workplace culture, and coaching and mentoring for female employees.

Since December last year as many as 43 leading companies in Pakistan from various sectors prepared their submissions based on the scorecard, using a web application developed specifically for this purpose.

Daraz, Pakistan’s biggest online marketplace, was announced as the winner of the Employer of Choice for Gender Diversity Awards. The awards, which were also supported by the UK Aid, celebrated private sector employers in the country committed to empowering women in the workplace.

“We believe companies can attract the best talent by implementing gender inclusive policies and disclosure practices,” said Ehsan Malik, the PBC chief executive officer. “These awards gave us a unique chance to work with some of Pakistan’s biggest companies to help improve the working environment and opportunities for women in the workplace. Congratulations to Daraz and the other winners for their commitment to gender equal workplaces.”

Women’s labour participation rate in Pakistan is just 21 per cent compared to 78 per cent for men. Women also face a number of barriers to succeed in the workplace, from societal biases to structural challenges, such as access to safe transport and child care. The country could increase its GDP by an estimated 30 per cent if women contributed equally economically, says an IMF study.

“Public information on gender-related policies is increasingly important for both investors, potential employees and other stakeholders when evaluating companies,” said Zeeshan Sheikh, IFC Country Manager for Pakistan and Afghanistan. “We have been working closely with the Pakistan Business Council to help firms implement gender diversity policies and targets and publicly disclose this information to affirm their commitment.”

IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, works to reduce gaps between men and women in the private sector, enabling companies and economies to improve their performance. In 2019, the IFC partnered with the PBC to lead a peer-learning collaboration with 13 Pakistani companies and Pakistan-based multinationals to promote better work-life integration and implement policies such as paid paternity leave, breastfeeding support, and childcare facilities.

The second and third place were awarded to K-Electric and Engro Fertilizers Ltd, respectively, while seven companies received honorable mention awards, including the Nestle Pakistan Ltd, Engro Vopak & Elengy Terminals, Engro Polymer & Chemicals, Pepsico, MG Apparel, Telenor Pakistan, and English Biscuit Manufacturers.