Sydney, Australia, March 8, 2018
—For the fourth consecutive year, IFC and stock exchanges around the world will “Ring the Bell for Gender Equality” to celebrate International Women’s Day 2018—a partnership that highlights how the private sector can spur women’s participation in the global economy and promote sustainable development.
“We must drive economic development through gender equality,” said Stephanie von Friedeburg, IFC Chief Operating Officer. “With over $18 trillion in purchasing power, women have the power to transform the global economy.”
Studies show that female talent is among the least utilized economic and business resources around the world. Making even small inroads in closing the global gender gap could quickly yield strong results, with the potential to increase global gross domestic product by $5.3 trillion over the next seven years, according to a 2017 report from the World Economic Forum. For listed companies, failure to capitalize on these resources—for example, by adding more women to their boards and ranks of senior leadership—represents a substantial opportunity cost.
Ring the Bell
events involve over 60 stock exchanges, including at the South Pacific Stock Exchange (SPSE) in Suva, Fiji, and the Australian Securities Exchange in Sydney, Australia. Participating organizations are encouraged to take a public stand to signal their commitment to gender equality, such as signing onto the
Women’s Empowerment Principles
, guidelines on empowering women in the workplace, marketplace and community.
Exchanges also are encouraged to prioritize diversity in their own corporate structures—by implementing gender-friendly workplace policies; developing female-oriented investment products; reporting to shareholders on diversity objectives, policies, and practices; and increasing the number of women holding board and senior leadership positions.
IFC welcomes the unified voice that stock exchanges add in advocating for equal gender representation on companies’ boards and senior management. Studies such as the Catalyst analysis of the U.S. Fortune 500 have found that firms with gender-diverse boards outperform those with male-only boards by as much as 53 percent as measured by returns on equity.
Ring the Bell
participants are acknowledging what the evidence demonstrates: that shattering corporate glass ceilings is a smart business strategy.
“Women – as consumers, employees, business leaders and entrepreneurs – are fundamental to transforming economies, supporting job creation, raising incomes while promoting sustainable development,” said Thomas Jacobs, IFC’s Manager for the Pacific region. “Yet progress has been far too slow in closing the gap between men and women.”
After the Ring the Bell for Gender Equality event in Suva, Fiji, the new Pacific Corporate Governance Institute will hold a special session on board gender diversity to mark International Women’s Day.
“There is much to be done. There are less than 10 women out of more than 100 board positions on companies listed on the South Pacific Stock Exchange, “Jacobs said. “And global research tells us companies with more than two women on boards outperform others in terms of stock price performance and operating results.”
IFC’s support for gender-smart business solutions includes working with companies in developing countries to generate opportunities for women that also contribute to bottom-line benefits. The institution leverages its relationship with over 1,000 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 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.
IFC—a sister organization of the World Bank and member of the World Bank Group—is the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in emerging markets. We work with more than 2,000 businesses worldwide, using our capital, expertise, and influence to create markets and opportunities in the toughest areas of the world. In FY17, we delivered a record $19.3 billion in long-term financing for developing countries, leveraging the power of the private sector to help end poverty and boost shared prosperity. For more information, visit