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SECP orders for formulation of gender diversity policies

The Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) on Monday issued a statement asking the listed companies for formulation and implementation of gender diversity policies for retention and development skills of their women employees.

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According to the circular number 7 of 2021 issued by the SECP Saturday, the gender diversity in decision making usually results in enhanced financial performance of the corporate sector and the overall growth of the economy of a country.

Pakistan figures fairly low in the Global Gender Gap report index, prepared by the World Economic Forum and there is a strong need to encourage women participation in the workforce, developing in-demand skills, and creating opportunities for women to advance into leadership roles within the corporate sector, it added.

Considering this, the commission has instructed the corporate boards of listed companies to formulate a gender diversity policy for recruitment, promotion along with gender pay gap analysis within the organization. SECP has also asked the companies to provide the women with a conducive work environment which includes but is not limited to the provision of day care facilities, better maternity leaves, robust anti-harassment and speak-up policies and diverse committees overseeing the complaints pertaining to harassment, etc.

Read More: SECP: Gender diversity induces better financial performance in Pakistan

Promoting gender diversity have also been addressed in the Companies Act, 2017, and the Listed Companies (Code of Corporate Governance) Regulations, 2019, which necessitates all listed companies to have at least one female director on their boards, said the circular issued by SECP.

The listed companies have also been directed to devise a gender diversity policy to maintain the gender disaggregated data with regard to female employment within the company as well as data regarding female customer base or supply base as may be relevant, and make it available to the Commission when required.

Just recently, Pakistan remarkably improved its score on entrepreneurship indicator of Women, Business and Law (WBL) index, from 50 to 75 points.

The rise is mainly attributed to reforms introduced by the SECP, enabling women to register a company effectively and promptly, stated a press release. WBL Report is World Bank’s publication that evaluates laws and regulations of 190 countries, in order to identify requirements that restrict women’s economic opportunities.

In 2021 WBL report, Pakistan has improved its score on two indicators; entrepreneurship and workplace, resulting in upgrading the overall score to 55.6, from 49.4 in 2020.

Pakistan has been included in 5 economies that have introduced reforms to improve entrepreneurship opportunities for women.

It is encouraging to note that from March 2020 to March 2021, SECP registered a total 21,168 companies, out of which 5,145 companies have at least one women director, which accounts for 24.3 percent of total incorporation during the period.

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