New IFC Survey Highlights Business Case for Gender Equality in the Workforce in Pakistan.
Many private companies in Pakistan are still struggling to reach gender diversity targets, while fewer than one in 20 women make it to senior management roles, according to a new survey by the International Finance Corporation and the Pakistan Business Council that highlights the challenges and opportunities around women’s employment in the private sector.
More than half of the 86 companies across a range of sectors that responded to the Gender Diversity and Disclosure in Pakistan survey had less than 15 percent of women working for them, despite clear goals to reach the 15 percent target. Sixty-three percent had less than five percent of women in senior leadership roles, while 60 percent had either none or only one female member on their boards of directors.
Lack of awareness and transparency around gender diversity is also a problem. Nearly 70 percent of the companies surveyed were not collecting data on the gender pay gap, and the majority of the companies had never publicly disclosed their gender-specific targets.
The CEO of the Pakistan Business Council, Ehsan Malik, said, “The study shows that Pakistan’s private sector still has a way to go to reduce the gender gap in its workforce, and this includes improving awareness of the business case for employing more women. Investing in women isn’t just a moral imperative; it also broadens the talent pool and helps companies increase productivity”.
To address the issue, the survey includes five International Finance Corporation (IFC) Gender Equity Principles that private sector companies can adopt. They focus on promoting leadership and accountability, improving gender diversity, reducing the gender pay gap, creating an optimal workplace culture, and coaching and mentoring female employees.
Shabana Khawar, the IFC Regional Head of Operations for Afghanistan and Pakistan, remarked, “As the survey shows, Pakistan’s private sector can play a vital role in increasing gender diversity, from collecting data and encouraging transparency, to adopting gender-specific policies and offering flexible work options”.
“We hope these findings will help create more inclusive and flexible workplaces that empower women to participate,” she added.
While the participation of the female labor force in Pakistan has increased in recent years, it remains one of the lowest globally at around 22 percent and just 10 percent in cities. Entrenched social norms, mobility issues, a large and persistent gender wage gap, and structural barriers such as discrimination or the lack of awareness of employment laws have all contributed to this low rate.
The IFC had partnered with the Pakistan Business Council in 2019 to lead a peer-learning collaboration called ‘Tackling Childcare Pakistan: Creating Family-Friendly Workplaces’, with 13 Pakistani companies and Pakistan-based multinationals to promote better work-life integration and implement policies such as paid paternity leave, breastfeeding support, and childcare facilities.
Source: Pro Pakistani