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at home (I grew up in a family of five girls) all the girls and the mother are in the kitchen. Then

Time:2019-06-03 18:28Underwear site information Click:

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 at home (I grew up in a family of five girls) all the girls and the mother are in the kitchen. Then my father always says we give all these chances for women and they dont come up. And my mother says we did things but you dont recognise it. I wanted to study why these two nice efforts dont meet eye to eye. This made me do my masters in women leadership. That is when I saw the real reasons for the barriers for women leadership and barriers for normative structures so I decided its high time to actually come out and try to change structures because that matters. Imal: My wife is more educated than I am. I decided to give up expat life and come back home because I didnt feel it was right for my wife to follow me from country to country when I get transferred. I was hoping she could pursue her career too

CEO panel session (from left): IFC Sri Lanka Women in Work Program Manager Carmen Niethammer (moderator), Jetwing Hotels Chairman Shiromal Cooray, SDB Bank Chairperson Samadanie Kiriwandeniya, Fairway Holdings Group CEO Imal Fonseka, John Keells Group President HR and Legal Dilani Alagaratnam and MAS Intimates CEO Suren Fernando

By Fathima Riznaz Hafi

Marking its first anniversary, the IFC-led SheWorks Sri Lanka partnership, supported by the Women in Work program, launched its year-one progress report titled ‘Making Progress: Sri Lankan Businesses Advance Gender Equality at the Workplace’ recently in Colombo. Business heads from leading companies gathered to join the celebration, which was followed by a CEO panel discussion.

The SheWorks Sri Lanka partnership is a collaboration of 18 leading employers across different industries, which include banking, finance, apparel, and tourism, who are committed to boost female participation in the private sector, by executing gender-smart solutions. This partnership facilitates sharing of experiences and good practices between member-companies, ultimately benefitting businesses, employees and communities. 

“The private sector remains the single most important engine exploring growth and raising living standards for all people – men and women, and creating more and better jobs for women is not only good for women, it’s good for business and it drives economic growth across the globe,” said Australian Deputy High Commissioner Victoria Coakley, speaking at the launch. 

“Here in Sri Lanka, stats show that once women are married and particularly when they have children, there’s quite a dramatic drop in their labour force participation. Sri Lanka, according to the IMF, can raise its Gross Domestic Product by as much as 20% in the long run, if it’s able to close the gender gap, which remains stubbornly low at 36% in the workforce. And I know that a lot of you here today are working hard to remedy that. 

“Platforms such as the SheWorks partnership create the space for businesses to share their experiences and good practices, to learn off one another and to implement changes within the organisations and to advocate for gender equality more broadly.

“The SheWorks Sri Lanka partnership goes beyond the 18 participating companies here today because it acts as an exemplar for companies across the island looking to improve their businesses via the introduction of fair, inclusive and diverse policies,” she added. 

99 commitments in 6 focus areas

IFC Sri Lanka Women in Work Employment Lead Aarthy Arunasalam shared that as a prerequisite to join the SheWorks Sri Lanka partnership, the companies were requested to make a minimum of three gender-smart commitments each, based on six focus areas:


Increase women’s business leadership

Ensure recruitment and retention of female talent in the workplace

Explore employer-supported childcare

Promote effective anti-sexual harassment mechanisms

Support women in the value chain as employees and entrepreneurs

Foster the company’s leadership and commitment to women’s employment as a smart business strategy 


However, several companies went beyond that requirement. “They made additional commitments, and now after a year, 99 commitments are in place, out of which 72% has been achieved or is in progress with expected completion by mid-2020,” she said. 

CEO panel discussion 

The CEO panel discussion that followed, centred on the six focus areas in the SheWorks program. The session titled ‘Putting the business case for workplace gender equality into practice’, was moderated by IFC Sri Lanka Women in Work Program Manager Carmen Niethammer, and featured a panel of business leaders: Jetwing Hotels Chairman Shiromal Cooray, SDB Bank Chairperson Samadanie Kiriwandeniya, Fairway Holdings Group CEO Imal Fonseka, John Keells Group President HR and Legal Dilani Alagaratnam and MAS Intimates CEO Suren Fernando, who were invited to share their insights and experiences as company heads dedicated to identifying and supporting gender-smart solutions in the workplace. 

Increase women’s business leadership

Q: Are you convinced of the business case on women’s leadership and where could you see that it makes a difference?

Shiromal: Women have two qualities that are very important for hospitality. I’m in the service sector, and empathy is one of the main things that is needed to service – women are naturally very emphatic, so that helps. Also, women have a higher emotional IQ so that too helps in those two sectors, particularly in hospitality. 

Samadanie: It brings a different perspective and experience to the table so the financial products can be tweaked to the realities of the lives of the women. Some of the timings of the meetings and the structuring of the product offers can take the women’s experience into consideration when you have more women on-board. I’m not saying that men don’t know this but men do not have some of those real hands-on experiences of how a certain product may or may not reach a specific segment, then we isolate 50% of the customer segment. 

Imal: Purely speaking from experience, I find that women tend to keep us very focussed particularly when we are at various discussions that can usually digress to talking about big matches, etc. 

Dilani: When we focus on the blue-collar worker especially in the context of more male-dominated businesses, at the factory level, we find that having women in that set up actually brings a lot of discipline to the organisation. They mind their p’s and q’s, for example, and there’s a lot of respect and that really adds to the organisation. 

Suren: We are an organisation that employs about 19,000 people, both locally and internationally; and almost 75% is female so we have a very strong business case. If you look at the products that we make the majority of them cater to lingerie and women’s sportswear; so in terms of product and customer we have a strong affinity to the female gender. 

And some of the newer innovative solutions that we are working on, again focus predominantly on providing solutions for women; so I think there is a very strong business case from a product and employee point of view. If you look at the organisation itself, at a leadership level we find having women in senior leadership positions will make better qualitative decisions and there is more diversity in opinion; so for us having women in leadership is not a nice thing that we want to do but we believe it is the right thing to do. 

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