The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka (CA Sri Lanka) has launched a directory of female members with qualifications and experience to be corporate directors to promote gender diversity in join company boardrooms.

Professional services firms have progressed faster than corporate in achieving gender diversity, said Aruni Rajakarier, chairperson of the CA Sri Lanka Women Empowerment and Leadership Development Committee. 

“Many men say that there is no talent pool among women, but this directory shows that there is actually a talent pool and this talent pool could be greater if we accept that there are gender differences and help women stay in,” she said. 

The directory is an important initiative aimed at supporting the country’s vision to have 30% women on boards by 2020, a statement said. 

CA Sri Lanka said it is trying to break gender barriers in boardrooms with its ‘Board Ready Female Members Directory’ which promotes more female representation across boards in corporate Sri Lanka.  

Harsha Basnayake, Ernst & Young Asia Pacific Transaction Advisory Managing Partner, said educated and smart women have been waiting in the sideline due to social and power biases which many have been conditioned to practice. 

“As leaders we have a significant capacity to change all of this and the efforts to go beyond billboards and social media proclamations. You and I have a real challenge in this regard to be the advocates and leaders who break the barriers,” he said at the launch of the directory.

Basnayake said that the failure to engage and develop talented women within an organization leaves half of the company’s potential behind. 

More than half of university entrants in Sri Lanka are women which means there is a large talent pool of women who can greatly add to the workforce not in terms of gender but in the range of experience and competencies which they can bring to an organization, he said. 

Quoting a study conducted by Peterson institute in collaboration with Ernst & Young, Basnayake said 30 percent of women representation on boards could add up to 16 percentage points to its net margin. 

“We have validated this at Ernst & Young by experimenting with our teams and quantified profitability of projects we carried out between diverse teams and homogeneous teams which is all male, and we recorded an 8 percent advantage with the team which is mixed and diverse,” he said. 

“Diverse boards and corporate leadership teams are less prone to group thinking and more prone to embracing new approaches to meet future threats and opportunities.” 

He said that studies have shown that greater level of gender diversity can have a positive impact on corporate performance and economic growth. 

Jagath Perera, CA Sri Lanka President, said although women are highly involved in economic related activities across the globe, their presence in leadership positions is relatively low.

Source: ECONOMY NEXT

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