In line with International Women’s Day, the Sustainable Stock Exchanges Initiative (SSE) released its latest report on ‘How stock exchanges can advance gender equality’. This report has been supported by Emerging Markets Dialogue on Finance (EMDF), part of the Emerging Market Sustainability Dialogues (EMSD), a programme commissioned by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and implemented by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH.
Launched in 2009 by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the Sustainable Stock Exchange initiative is a learning platform for stock exchanges, companies, investors and policy makers to support sustainable development in capital markets.
Studies repeatedly find that addressing gender equality will unlock trillions of dollars of currently unrealised investment value.
“As stock exchanges have the capacity to impact and direct the flow of money within capital markets, they possess great potential to exert significant influence over a broad range of sustainability-related aspects, among them clearly gender equality”, explains Nina Roth, Senior Advisor Sustainable Finance, EMDF.
The report examines the contribution exchanges can specifically make towards achieving Sustainable Development Goal 5.5: Ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic, and public life.
“Gender equality is an issue that impacts everyone, from diversity in leadership, to family leave policies, to equal opportunities for education,“ said Fiona Reynolds, managing director of the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI). “Investors have an important role to play in closing the gender gap by engaging with not only companies, but also stock exchanges and policymakers.“
A number of recommendations to enhance the positive impact of stock exchanges on gender equality were developed. Among them:
- Transparency: Require reporting on gender metrics, i.e. related policies and objectives of companies listed
- Product offerings: Introduce gender equality standards into exchange-offered investment products
- Policies, training and education: Develop policies for topics such as female representation, pay parity, etc. in line with international best practice
- Advocacy and Partnerships: Encourage listed companies to implement the Women’s Empowerment Principles, a holistic framework to advance gender equality in the workplace, marketplace and community.
Natascha Beinker, Deputy Head of Division Cooperation with the Private Sector / Sustainable Economic Policy of BMZ underlines that “this report demonstrates the breadth of actions available for stock exchanges to make a positive impact, and provides compelling evidence of the business case for gender-inclusion.”
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