JSE joins 43 stock exchanges to ring the bell for gender equality on international women’s day
The Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) played its part in the global movement of “Ringing the bell for gender equality” which marks International Women’s Day and raises awareness of the vital role that organisations need to play in advancing gender equality.
The Ring the Bell for Gender Equality event at the JSE is part of a collaboration between the United Nation Global Compact South Africa Network, the Sustainable Stock Exchanges Initiative (SSE), the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (known as UN Women), the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the World Federation of Exchanges (WFE) and Women in Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs).
The market open was hosted by JSE CEO Nicky Newton-King, and WIPHOLD founder and WIP CAPITAL CEO Gloria Serobe, who delivered the keynote address. Serobe established the Women's Investment Portfolio Holdings Limited (WIPHOLD), an investment and operating company owned and managed entirely by black women, almost 25 years ago.
The event kicked off with the JSE’s signature, uniquely South African market open celebration and was followed by a gender equality panel discussion where panelists shared their insights on the importance of gender inclusion in the workplace, based on their experience in developing, driving and implementing strategies that actively promote gender equality.
Bonang Mohale, Vice President Upstream and Chairman of Shell Downstream South Africa opened up the panel discussion and looked at topics such as: whether numerous organisations have a transformation, or even a gender equality policy and the possible deterrents in the private sector in implementing these policies.
Zeona Jacobs, Marketing and Corporate Affairs Director says, “At the JSE, we believe that having women at all levels should become the norm and that organisations should create the right platforms to provide female employees the same opportunity to grow in organisations as their male counterparts, and a conducive environment for them to prosper.”
Jacobs pointed out that South Africa is ranked fifteen out of 144 countries in terms of gender equality, according to the 2016 Global Gender Gap Report produced by the World Economic Forum.
The JSE remains committed to diversity in the workplace and being a part of this global initiative creates the opportunity for the JSE to have robust debate on some of the challenges and strides made in gender equality. At the JSE, 42% of its board members are female, 54% of its executives are female and 51% of the employees are women. In addition, the JSE’s chairman, Nonkululeko Nyembezi-Heita is female.
As part of its contribution to the female agenda, in 2015 the JSE introduced listing requirements requiring listed companies to have a policy for the promotion of gender diversity at board level and disclose their performance against it. The requirements were effective from January 2017 and the JSE looks forward to being able to report on the progress that our listed companies make in this regard.
Jacobs concludes, “The JSE supports the transformation of the SA economy to better reflect the society in which it operates. We are proud to offer a world-class platform where global and local investors can participate to enhance the prospects of growth in our economy.”