“Driving Change: Gender-Responsive Practices in Business”
Since 2002, the Women in Business panel has been a highlight of the Business Forum agenda of the EBRD Annual Meeting, attracting lively interest and participation.
The panel at this year’s EBRD Annual Meeting and Business Forum in Tbilisi, Driving Change: Gender-Responsive Practices in Business brought together distinguished leaders from business, politics and leading research institutes.
Mariam Valishvili, Deputy Minister of Energy, Georgia, Julia Dawson, Managing Director of Thematic Research, Credit Suisse Securities and Dana Denis-Smith, Founder and CEO, Obelisk Support, discussed the growing need for companies to innovate and embrace diversity within their organisation and their customer base to remain competitive in times of economic turbulence, both at home and internationally.
The interactive Q&A session moderated by the BBC’s Tanya Beckett, enabled a dynamic and fruitful exchange of knowledge. It also provided an opportunity to take away practical, important ideas about gender issues in business and the EBRD region.
Dawson pointed that in the United States 65 per cent of CEOs are above 60 and 90 per cent are men. In addition men gets five rounds of promotion versus three for women.
Driving change requires that organisations make full use of all available resources to help them keep pace with the competition. There are clear indications that companies which implement gender-responsive practices are able to better position themselves in the market and to be more effective and efficient. This in turn can have a significant impact on the wider economy.
According to McKinsey’s Women Matter report from 2013, corporate culture plays a critical role in advancing gender diversity at the senior levels of corporations. The survey reveals that corporate culture is as important as individual mind-set in determining whether women believe they can succeed.
Integrating women as employees and addressing women as entrepreneurs, consumers and business leaders is crucial if firms are to survive, grow and outpace the competition. Have companies successfully capitalised on this untapped potential? The panel sought to establish whether and how firms have adapted.
Since 2005, the discussion panel has been followed by an awards ceremony. The 2015 awards were presented by the EBRD Vice President, Betsy Nelson to three winners from the EBRD’s region who have proved to be the most advanced in applying gender diversity measures in their businesses.
The First Award for ‘Promoting Gender Diversity in a Financial Institution’ went to Shoira Sadykova, General Director of Micro Credit Deposit Organisation, Arvand, in Tajikistan.
The Second Award for ‘Promoting Gender Diversity in a Commercial Company’ went to Svetlana Siprova, CEO of Mark Formelle, in Belarus.
And the Third Award for ‘Promoting Gender Diversity as a Business Owner’ went to Narankhuu Odon, General Director of Teso Corporation, in Mongolia
This year the discussion panel and awards ceremony were complemented by a signing ceremony for the EBRD’s Women in Business programme in the Eastern Partnership countries. Local financial institutions signed a letter expressing their interest in participating in the programme, which combines finance and advice for women-led small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
The programme will be launched in Georgia in 2015 as part of a regional drive that will benefit more than 2,000 women entrepreneurs.