Principles for Responsible Investment
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PRI: Stock exchanges among the leaders in addressing gender equality
Many stock exchanges worldwide have established gender equality policies and are helping to raise the bar on gender rights, according to a new report published by the Sustainable Stock Exchanges (SSE) Initiative—in partnership with the Emerging Market Sustainability Dialogues of GIZ. The report frames the state of gender equality globally and provides case studies across exchanges in 13 markets: Australia, Brazil, Egypt, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Italy, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States. The report is in line with the global ‘Ring the Bell for Gender Equality’ event series on 6-10 March.
The report finds exchanges are advancing gender equality through listing requirements, voluntary guidance documents, investment products, internal policies, awareness raising efforts and more.
Practices taken by various exchanges include:
- Gender diversity reporting recommendations developed in 2010 by the ASX in Australia, making the ASX one of the first exchanges to promote gender diversity, including setting targets for female representation across various levels of the work force.
- BM&FBOVESPA in Brazil offers training for women entrepreneurs on the value of going public.
- In Germany, Deutsche Börse’s Female Executive Mentoring Program has helped increase the number of women who head a department from 5% to 27% since 2007.
- HKEX, the exchange in Hong Kong, released an ESG reporting guide in 2015 that recommends disclosure by gender of turnover rate, training and presentation across the entire organization.
- In Jordan, the Amman Stock Exchange’s (ASE) has achieved near equal representation in its employee base due to recruitment policies based upon fair and equitable competition, ensuring appointment of candidates without discrimination.
- In South Africa, the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) introduced a rule requiring issuers to have a policy for the promotion of gender diversity at the board level and disclose their performance against, which went into effect in January 2017.
The SSE report concluded that exchanges can continue to raise the bar on gender equality through initiatives such as requiring or encouraging listed companies to report on diversity objectives and how they are achieved; taking action to enforce gender requirements across the supply chain or by engaging the market securities regulator to require or encourage listed companies to report on diversity metrics.
Further advancing women is the right thing to do, but also the smart thing to do, as research shows it leads to increases in GDP, higher productivity, return on investments, and enhanced talent retention.
Despite the overwhelming evidence of positive business impacts, the state of the market is still not where it should be. Women take home 1/10 of global income, while accounting for 2/3 of global working hours; according to a survey of nearly 1,000 companies globally, less than 5% have a female CEO; and at the current rate of progress, pay parity by gender will not be achieved globally until well over 100 years.
While stock exchanges can leverage the power of capital markets to close the gender gap, investors and companies each have a valuable role to play in addressing gender equality. The report includes case studies on Pax World and Bloomberg to highlight investor and corporate best practice respectively.
“It’s encouraging to see the progress that exchanges are making on gender equality, especially compared to other players in financial services,” said James Zhan, Director of Investment and Enterprise at UNCTAD.
“But we now need investors and companies to take on board many of the successful gender policies that exchanges have enacted in order for real progress to be made.”
“Gender equality is an issue that impacts everyone,” said Fiona Reynolds.
“From diversity in boardrooms to equal opportunities for education, we have come far, but we have so much further to go. The PRI welcomes the leadership taken by the exchanges and we call on all investors and companies to take their own steps toward gender equality”.
About the Sustainable Stock Exchanges (SSE) 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