Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Board diversity: is gender the missing link?

Board diversity: is gender the missing link?
Discussion forum by ACCA Pakistan

ACCA Pakistan organised discussion forums board diversity: is gender the missing link? in Lahore and Islamabad.  The panellists of the forum included Mr Arif Masud Mirza, Head of ACCA Pakistan, Mr Khawar Saeed Ansari, Pakistan Corporate Governance Project Manager, IFC Pakistan, Ms Sarwat Aftab, Director International Affairs & Coordination, Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan, Ms Shazia Syed, Executive Director, Unilever Pakistan, Mr Azhar Ali Syed, Managing Director, Tetra Pak Pakistan Limited, Ms Rahat Hassan, Chairperson, Competition Commission of Pakistan, Monis Rehman ,CEO, Naseeb Networks and Ms Shazreh Bano, Gender specialist. The discussions were moderated by Dr Afra Sajjad, Head of Education and Policy Development, ACCA Pakistan.

'As policy makers and business leaders are internationally considering a trend for more board diversity (including gender diversity), the examination of the business case for board gender diversity in the context of Pakistan merits consideration' explained Dr Afra Sajjad, Head of Education and Policy Development of ACCA Pakistan.

Mr Mirza, Head of ACCA Pakistan commented, 'Women constitute 43% of ACCA global membership and ACCA was the first accountancy body to admit women to its membership, in 1909. These discussions by presenting a business case for gender diversity based on the premises of fair access and routes to progression, endorses ACCA's core values of opportunity and diversity'.

The key recommendations emanating from the forums included aligned to international best practices introduction of achievable realistic measurable targets for ensuring professional competent women reach boards, making the corporate pipeline deliver by having an enabling organisational and board culture, executive search firms having codes that would compel them to actively search for women nominees for board positions, by having women networks, mentoring women and developing case studies around successful women role models. Cultural and social barriers could be overcome by education and awareness of the business case for women having an equal opportunity for career progression. The revised code of corporate governance by encouraging listed companies to have at least one woman independent director could be the enabling factor for having women on boards.
The participants of the forum were key personals from public practice, corporate and public sector.