Ms. Sammar Essmat, Gender and Private Sector Specialist at IFC, visits the OICCI

Ms. Sammar Essmat, Gender and Private Sector Specialist for Europe, Central Asia, Middle East and North Africa at the International Finance Corporation (IFC) – which is part of the World Bank Group, visited the chamber on January 30, 2018. She was accompanied by Mr. Fuad Hashimi, Executive Director, Centre of Excellence in Responsible Business (CERB) of the Pakistan Business Council (PBC).

Ms. Essmat informed that the IFC recently started a partnership with the PBC to increase knowledge among PBC’s member companies on how to empower women in their respective workforce and to understand the business benefits associated with a gender diverse workforce. She further shared that IFC has a large global program on closing gender gaps in the private sector which covers advancing gender diversity in the workforce, in entrepreneurship, in the supply chain and all the way up to the board room and they work with the UN Women and other partners on several of these issues around the world. She said that their visit to OICCI was to learn about the recent OICCI Women Empowerment-Gender Equality initiative launched in November 2017, in collaboration with the UN Women.

After a brief introduction about the OICCI and activities of the chamber, we shared with the visitors findings of the Gender Balance Survey that was carried out in July 2017 amongst the members of the OICCI. We informed that the survey was conducted in order to know the ratio of women working in the OICCI member companies and the facilities offered to them. The results showed that the average ratio of women in OICCI member companies is 11% which is less than the industry average of 17%. Majority of the women employees are working at junior and non-management levels. Average career duration of women employees is 7 years in the OICCI member companies which is encouraging. Many respondents have workplace policies and facilities favorable for women employees, including a harassment policy, pick and drop facility, maternity leave, flexible working hours and work from home facility in special circumstances.

Ms. Essmat appreciated the survey results and mentioned that PBC has also conducted similar kind of survey amongst its members on the request of IFC and PBC survey has also more or less similar statistics which validates the results of both the surveys.

We also shared the OICCI Women Empowerment-Gender Equality Roadmap with the visitors that was developed by the OICCI CSR Subcommittee for member companies to give them a head-start in implementation of gender equality in their respective companies. We also shared highlights of the CSR event held in November 2017 under the title “OICCI Women: Empowering for a Brighter Tomorrow” where many member companies pledged to work for women empowerment and gender equality.

Mr. Fuad Hashimi gave a brief overview about the partnership between PBC and IFC to promote women employment in Pakistan. Ms. Essmat said that the IFC had been meeting with potential partners in Pakistan for promoting women employment in the country as IFC wants to raise awareness on the issue through seminars, webinars, one-to-one meetings, trainings, guidebook and case studies.

Ms. Essmat thanked OICCI for the presentation and latest statistics on gender balance in MNCs in Pakistan and requested that OICCI may also consider joining with IFC/PBC to promote women empowerment and gender equality in the country as the goals of both OICCI and IFC/PBC are the same and a consolidated approach would be much more beneficial.

© 2012 Overseas Investors Chambers of Commerce and Industry
The Overseas Investors Chamber of Commerce & Industry (OICCI) serves as the national point of reference for foreign investors in Pakistan. Established in 1860 as the Karachi Chamber of Commerce, it is the oldest of the existing chambers.