Mme Fazila Jeewa-Daureeawoo a prononcé un discours lors de la cérémonie d’ouverture de l”Initiative for Gender Diversity in Leadership” par le MIoD.
A very good morning to all of you!!
• I am indeed delighted to be associated with this particularly timely Conference.
• It resonates well with the International Women’s Day Celebrations including. It is also well aligned to the UN theme “Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50-50 by 2030” as well as that retained by my Ministry “Working Towards a Gender Inclusive Society”.
• I wish to congratulate the Mauritius Institute Of Directors for choosing the very pertinent topic “Gender Diversity in the Boardroom for this Conference.
• We are witnessing a historic moment where World Leaders pledged in 2015 at the UN to create a world with gender equality.
• In fact, the quest for gender equality became more prominent on the international agenda at the Fourth World conference in Beijing and has since been gaining momentum.
• One of the twelve critical areas of concern that was flagged out at Beijing was the representation of women in decision making. The onus was on the need to have more women leaders, executives and managers in strategic positions.
• Over the last decades, women around the world have gradually gained more opportunity to participate in and contribute to the development of society.
• However, the gaps in the corporate sphere remain quite significant.
• This reminds me of one of the most quoted reference of Hillary Clinton’s speech at the Beijing Conference. I quote “If there is one message that echoes from this Conference, let it be that human rights are women’s rights; once and for all. Let us not forget among those rights are the rights to speak freely and the right to be heard” (unquote)
• So, this Conference is also about our right to speak in the boardroom; and our right to participate at par with men.
• The one common factor that became game-changing for us, over the years, is that today we have the courage to speak.
• Even though we still have a long way to go towards gender parity in the boardroom, at least the awareness is there.
• The topic is being raised at international; and regional fora and in the media. Most people agree that there are not enough women in corporate boardroom. But there is little consensus on how it increases inclusiveness and gender diversity.
Ladies and Gentlemen
• The pace of change must accelerate. And the number of well-informed panelist who will intervene on the chosen topic of this Conference is surely going to unpack some key issues.
• As corporate governance issues will rise on the national agenda, gender inequality in our boardrooms will get more scrutiny from all concerned.
• I would like, at this juncture, to applaud those Companies that have already developed diverse boards. Because they have understood that gender diversity is not just the right thing but it is the smart thing.
• They have understood that an increased representation of women in the boardrooms entails both an economic and a business perspective.
• Today, thanks to the abundance of literature, studies and evidences, many companies are more sensitive to the discourse of diversity in the boardrooms.
• Companies are fully conscious of the micro and macro economic perspectives of having more women in leadership positions. They now think in terms of higher, sustainable rates of economic growth.
• The debate is now moving to performance and how decisions are made within companies. This concern is well captured in Joseph Keefe- the President and CEO of PAX World Funds who said (I quote)
“When women are at the table, the discussion is richer;
The decision making process is better;
Management is more innovative and collaborative; and
The organisation is stronger
Because Companies that advance and empower women are, in our view, better long-term investments.
We are encouraging Companies in our portfolios to enhance their performance in gender issues” (unquote)
Ladies and Gentlemen
• It is within this backdrop that I guess that each one of you will share her thoughts and prevailing best practices. I also note that the different panels will address specific issues that speak to “Gender Diversity” in the boardrooms.
And I must congratulate you for the pertinence and relevance of each of these topics. For instance, the thematics to be addressed during Panels 2 and 3 are indeed, recomforting.
• We all know that companies which are not gender and family friendly make it difficult for women to juggle work and home. Moreover, the setting up of Working Groups that would drive effective change, will by all means, bring value-addition to the work of MIOD. This is, in fact, the challenge ahead. And this challenge can only be addressed when there is the widest spectrum of views, opinions, expertise, and exchanges, that would emerge today.
• Also allow me to congratulate the two companies which have set up day care centres facilities in their premises. I will encourage more companies to do so.
• I also wish to remind you that on the 08 March 2016, the Prime Minister, had during the International Women’s Day Celebrations launched the Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Award Competition.
• Hence companies which are having gender sensitive policies, schemes and other facilities are invited to participate in the competition.
• I guess, what is often at play, within companies is the “unconscious bias” among directors. Male directors are, mostly, surrounded by their personal networks- the “Boys Club”; whereby they remain influenced by their own attitudes, behaviours and values.
• One of the greatest barriers to getting more women into senior positions and in the boardrooms is lack of networks. Improved access to networks and conversations can contribute significantly for women to move up the ladder.
• I would, therefore, encourage you to maximise on your networks. These will enable you to sustain the laudable work you have started today.
• More women in the boardrooms will result in inclusiveness. It will also improve corporate governance practices.
• We now need concerted efforts for gender diversity; with more commitment from the private sector; and gender sensitive policies and programmes.
• Our ultimate aim should be geared towards creating an inclusive culture in which gender diversity is recognized and valued.
• Let us pledge for diversity and inclusion at the highest level of decision making instances.
• The pace for change must accelerate. We need to break the glass ceiling- often invisible.
• With these words, I wish you fruitful deliberations.
Thank you for your Attention.