The call was made as the SET began the trading session by "ringing the bell for gender equality", followed by a panel discussion and business practice sharing on improving the inclusion of women in value chains. The event, co-organized with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Thailand (SEC), Australian Embassy in Thailand and UN Women, was part of a campaign to celebrate International Women's Day.
"As a member of the World Federation of Stock Exchanges, the Stock Exchange of Thailand is delighted to have participated, for the 9th consecutive year, in the Ring the Bell for Gender Equality initiative in collaboration with partners in Thailand. SET is committed to increasing women's participation in the capital market, particularly among listed companies, by collaborating with agencies that focus on corporate governance assessment. We provide guidelines on increasing the proportion of women on boards and issuing anti-discrimination policies. This is in line with SET's vision "To Make the Capital Market 'Work' for Everyone", which aims to drive sustainable growth across all sectors by promoting the importance of freedom and equality." remarked Rinjai Chakornpipat, SET senior executive vice president and head of market division.
Implementing gender-inclusive business practices is a crucial part of environmental, social and governance (ESG) principles that companies should follow to remain accountable to their shareholders and investors. These practices not only affect listed companies' strategic management, but also enable companies to better address their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
As a capital market regulator and policymaker, the SEC has been promoting gender equality, diversity, women's participation in board roles and the Women's Empowerment Principles (WEPs).
At the event, the participants recognized the WEPs, a joint initiative between the UN Global Compact and UN Women. The WEPs consist of seven guidelines on how businesses can promote gender equality and women's empowerment in the workplace, marketplace and community.
Jomkwan Kongsakul, Deputy Secretary-General of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Thailand (SEC), stated "our strategic priority is to build a conducive environment to support listed companies in their ESG integration. The social aspect, in particular, includes human rights and gender equality. This is in line with the 20-Year National Strategy and contributes to the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, especially SDG 5 Gender Equality.
The SEC has been collaborating with UN Women on the promotion of the WEPs. The initiative is an important instrument for advancing gender equality in listed companies and their value chains. We are pleased to see that each year, more listed companies sign up to the principles, and many of them are recognised as WEPs awardees for their outstanding efforts and performance".
In addition to Thailand's strengths in promoting inclusive leadership and gender-friendly workplace policies, listed companies in Thailand are being encouraged to be more innovative and enhance their accountability to their shareholders by considering the impact of gender equality and women's empowerment when selecting services and goods. Encouraging more innovation and making procurement process more accessible for everyone is a transformative step, as it enables enterprises of all sizes to benefit from greater range of market opportunities through a more diverse range of suppliers.
This innovative approach has gained the endorsement of the Australian Government as a means of supporting South-East Asia's economy and aiding in its recovery from the pandemic. This initiative is in line with the Mekong-Australia Partnership's vision for an open, inclusive, secure and prosperous Mekong subregion. "Promoting gender equality is central to Australia's diplomatic, economic, development and regional security efforts." noted Angela Macdonald, the Australian ambassador to Thailand.
To enhance Thailand's marketplace, UN Women's WE RISE Together programme aims to disrupt public and private procurement system and provide necessary support to ensure women-owned businesses and enterprises owned by traditionally underrepresented have a fair share in the procurement system.
"I strongly believe that through initiatives like 'ring the bell', our work with private sector organisations will help raise awareness about WEPs, and I would like to take this opportunity to invite all of you to co-create more equal playing field for women in the business world. The actions you can take would include developing supplier diversity policies or providing fair opportunities for women-owned businesses to participate in procurement market." said Sarah Knibbs, Regional Director a.i., UN Women Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific.
For more information on the "Ring the Bell for Gender Equality" campaign in Thailand, watch the full recording of the event at https://www.facebook.com/events/1249624395923568