To foster a beneficial and comfortable working environment for Pakistani women, the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) has asked listed companies to formulate and implement gender diversity policies to attract and retain talented women.
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.
The SECP has always been a strong advocate for gender equality, internally and in its regulated sectors, and firmly believes that gender diversity in decision making has a proven correlation with the enhanced financial performance of the corporate sector and the overall growth of the economy.
Promoting gender diversity has 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.
In a circular issued on Monday, the Boards of Directors of listed companies have been advised to oversee the implementation of gender diversity policies in their companies.
Boards have also been asked to conduct gender pay gap analysis within the organization and formulate policies for the development of skills of their women employees.
The measures for a conducive work environment include, but are not limited to, provision of daycare facilities, better maternity leaves, robust anti-harassment, and speak-up policies. Boards are also required to form diverse committees overseeing the complaints of harassment etc.
Companies are expected to comply with the above provisions within six months of the date of this circular and accordingly place it on the company’s website.
In case of any practical difficulties, the necessary reasons may be provided in the statement of compliance under the code of corporate governance.