ISLAMABAD: In order 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 low in the Global Gender Gap report index, prepared by the World Economic Forum. There is a strong need to encourage women’s participation in the workforce, develop in-demand skills, and create 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 corporate sector’s enhanced financial performance and the economy’s overall growth. Promoting gender diversity have 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 here on Monday, the Board 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 a gender pay gap analysis within the organisation and formulate policies for developing their women employees’ skills.

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 pertaining to harassment etc.   

Companies are expected to comply with the above provisions within six months of this circular’s date and accordingly place it on the company’s website. In the case of practical difficulties, the necessary reasons may be provided in the statement of compliance under the code of corporate governance.

Hamza Habib is a senior journalist who has previously worked for leading newspapers and TV networks of the country. He mainly writes on the economy and political issues.

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