SEC urges Sri Lankan firms to identify potential women for board positions

ECONOMYNEXT – Listed Sri Lankan companies and professional organizations should set eligibility criteria and build data bases of potential women candidates to become board
directors, the head of the capital markets watchdog said.
Boards should now come of age and think “beyond their traditional or conventional comfort zones” to ensure better gender balance in corporate leadership, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) chairman , RanelWijesinha said.

While many corporates, large medium or small, have attracted and worked with a number of both men and women who are clearly worthy of holding board positions, there yet are many corporates and enterprises, who are reluctant to invite independent professionals on to boards, he said.

“This may lead to the perpetuation of mediocrity in enterprise performance and board room and corporate governance by attracting only friends and relatives, or those who they believe will not ‘rock the boat’,” an SEC statement quoted Wijesinha as saying.

Wijesinha has already taken initiatives to encourage gender diversity in within the SEC, after establishing a Gender Diversity Initiative task force.

He urged other boards of directors to set “progressive measures, incorporating eligibility and qualifying criteria, fit and proper tests and other methods to develop a rich resource of potential women candidates”.

The 2019 budget calls for corporate boards to have 30 percent women voluntarily by 2020 and at least 30 percent minimum by 2024.

Wijesinha disagrees with the quota policy, saying; “I do not encourage ensuring compliance with a percentage or quota for women representation on boards, in a static sense, but rather in a dynamic sense”.

“Aware and progressive corporates should not simply invite women to boards alone, to be passively compliant, but rather should be proactive perhaps via ‘Talent Sourcing, Evaluation and Nominations Committees’ to identify potential candidates for boards.”

Professional associations, business chambers and bodies such as the Sri Lanka Institute of Directors should build databases of eligible people from among members to be candidates for board positions.

Wijesinha said the SEC was committed to help implement budget proposals to encourage more women on corporate boards.





Company human resource or talent management policies and strategies should be designed and implemented and regularly upgraded to attract “potential executive women directors” as employees in the first instance.
(COLOMBO, March 26, 2019)

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