OICCI organizes session on ‘Creating a Gender Equal World’ to celebrate International Women’s Day

Lahore (Muhammad Yasir) The Overseas Investors Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OICCI), organized a session titled ‘Creating a Gender Equal World’ to once again highlight the importance of inclusion of women in all aspects of life, including the Corporate sector for which OICCI is playing a leading role. The session coincided with ongoing celebrations of the ‘International Women’s Day’. On this occasion OICCI President Shazad Dada, sharing his views in the session said “Advancing women’s equality is bound to deliver a high growth dividend for Pakistan. Besides being a social and moral imperative, we need to enable full potential of women for Pakistan’s prosperity”

He said that the International Women’s Day has significant importance for OICCI member companies, who are the leading foreign investors in country, and they are at the forefront in leading initiatives on Women Empowerment and Gender Equality at workplaces.

‘OICCI Women’ is a flagship initiative of the chamber to bring gender equality of international standards in Pakistan’s corporate sector. OICCI has also recommended that the government should set a target of 20% women in management positions by 2022 which should be followed across the board.

Nearly 80% of the OICCI member companies are involved in activities related to women empowerment and creating gender equality which testifies to the significance of women’s role in economy. According to a recent survey done amongst OICCI members, women employees’ form 13% of the total workforce, 12% women are holding top leadership positions, 15% middle level executive positions while 36% junior executive positions are held by women. Some members within OICCI have 30-40%, women in leadership positions, and women from within OICCI member companies have been posted on senior overseas assignment as well. Many OICCI members are role models for championing the cause of gender balance in their respective sectors.

A good number of CEOs and HR practitioners attended the session that aimed to impart knowledge of the best practices and case studies of women empowerment and gender equality that support the idea of “An equal world is an enabled world” as per International Women’s Day theme this year.

Sadia Khan, President/CEO of PICG highlighted the importance of ‘Women on Boards’ in the light of Companies Act 2017, which requires all listed companies to have at least one women in their Board of Directors. Vice President Procter & Gamble, Sami Ahmed, shared his views on ‘Women Empowerment and its role in economic growth’ while CEO Circle Women, Sadaffe Abid, emphasized on ‘Preparing Women Leaders for tomorrow.’

There was also a panel discussion with HR heads of Meezan Bank, K-Electric, Philip Morris Pakistan and Telenor Pakistan to emphasize that ‘Equality is not a women’s issue, it’s a business issue.’ Standard Chartered Bank Pakistan and Nestlé Pakistan also shared their best practices for gender equality. The session was moderated by the Executive Director Pharma Bureau, Ayesha Tammy Haq.

The session was highly interactive and based on the extensive interaction among top brass of HR experts, it has been recommended that all private and public sector organizations need to create positive environment for increasing women inclusion in Pakistan’s economy by introducing, among other initiatives, agile working environment, assessing women employees without biases, adopting equal opportunities for growth and development, mentoring women employees and preparing them for future leadership.

The participants found the session highly productive and inspiring and they hoped the culture of equality would prevail at the workplaces in particular and in the country at large.