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How exchanges can advance gender equality – Updated guidance and best practice

March 8, 2022 International Women's Day. Today the UN SSE and IFC released new guidance on how exchanges can advance gender equality. This work was developed in strategic collaboration with UN Women and the SSE Gender Equality Advisory Group made up of experts around the world. 

This SSE-IFC guidance identifies three broad areas where exchanges can play a role in advancing gender equality: the promotion of gender-focused and/or gender-aware products and services; the strengthening of market performance on gender equality; and leading by example through internal exchange actions. Each of these broad areas has further detailed actions that the SSE-IFC gender equality action plan for exchanges.

“Gender equality is a key pillar of the Sustainable Stock Exchanges’ work so we’re proud today to launch our new guidance on gender equality, developed in collaboration with the IFC and built upon industry feedback from 71 experts across 34 countries,” said James Zhan, Director, Investment and Enterprise at UNCTAD and Chair of the UN SSE Governing Board. “The new SSE-IFC guidance provides practical examples from around the world of how exchanges can promote gender equality in their markets. We call on all exchanges to learn from their peers and accelerate action on gender equality as an essential element for achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals.” 

A Gender Equality Action Plan for Exchanges

“Our collaboration with SSE provides a significant platform to reach thousands of companies in encouraging increased female leadership in boardrooms and in senior management,” said Emmanuel Nyirinkindi, Vice President, Cross-Cutting Solutions, IFC. “We know that a higher proportion of women in business leadership not only makes sense for the bottom line, but also is linked to better ESG outcomes. The guidance launched today exemplifies the importance of sharing best practices to advance gender equality, spur job creation, and address urgent development challenges.”

“UN Women is pleased to partner with the Sustainable Stock Exchanges initiative and the International Finance Corporation to update the guidance note for exchanges to advance gender equality. Building on its pioneer precedent of 2017, this updated edition of the note provides an expanded range of lessons, examples, and benchmarks from across the globe — all of which have made corporations not just more equal but also more financially sustainable.” said Anita Bhatia, Deputy Executive Director, UN Women. 

“Exchanges, as central actors in the worlds of business and finance, have an important role to play in ensuring that women become equal participants in our economies and our societies,” said Dr. Marlene Street Forrest, Managing Director, Jamaica Stock Exchange and Chair of the SSE Gender Equality Advisory Group. “I therefore applaud the work of the SSE Advisory Group on Gender Equality in supporting the SSE and IFC in producing this guidance. With this new updated guidance on gender equality, the SSE continues in its tradition of providing exchanges with practical tools to make a difference in their market.”

The guidance is an updated and expanded version of the guidance the SSE originally published in 2017. Going forward, the SSE plans to build on this guidance with training programs for exchanges and their issuers. The SSE will also expand its database on gender equality to serve as a benchmark to measure progress. The SSE will continue to implement its work on gender equality in collaboration with IFC and UN Women and stock exchanges around the world.

About the Partner Organizations:

International Finance Corporation (IFC):

IFC—a member of the World Bank Group—is the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in emerging markets. We work in more than 100 countries, using our capital, expertise, and influence to create markets and opportunities in developing countries. In fiscal year 2021, IFC committed a record $31.5 billion to private companies and financial institutions in developing countries, leveraging the power of the private sector to end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity as economies grapple with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information, visit www.ifc.org.

United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (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, programmes and services needed to ensure that the standards are effectively implemented and truly benefit women and girls worldwide. It works globally to make the vision of the Sustainable Development Goals a reality for women and girls and stands behind women’s equal participation in all aspects of life. In collaboration with the UN Global Compact, UN Women engages the private sector through the Women’s Empowerment Principles – a global framework and engagement platform to advance gender equality and women’s empowerment in the workplace, marketplace, and community. In line with its Strategic Plan (2022-2025), UN Women focuses on four strategic priority areas: governance and participation in public life; women’s economic empowerment; ending violence against women and girls; and women, peace and security, humanitarian action and disaster risk reduction. UN Women also coordinates and promotes the UN system’s work in advancing gender equality. Learn more at: www.unwomen.org and www.weps.org