Women Corporate Directors launches new chapter in Sri Lanka

14 January 2022 Consultancy.asia 3 min. read

The world’s leading advocacy group for female board representation – the Women Corporate Directors foundation – has established a new chapter in Sri Lanka.

Seeking to improve female board representation in the country, a new chapter of the international Women Corporate Directors foundation has been launched in Sri Lanka, with support from global professional services firm KPMG. Presently, less than one in ten board positions are held by women in Sri Lanka, despite the growing understanding that board diversity positively correlates with corporate performance.

With now more than 75 chapters spread across every continent, the Women Corporate Directors (WCD) foundation is the world’s largest membership organisation and community of female corporate board directors, its members serving on more than 8,500 company boards globally with a combined market cap exceeding $8 trillion. The aim is to continue promoting representation, through networking and training.

Women Corporate Directors launches new chapter in Sri Lanka

“KPMG recognises our responsibility to help build a better future for all,” said local KPMG partner Thamali Rodrigo, who will serve as the new chapter’s co-chair. “This includes empowering our people to become agents of positive change and to support the communities we serve. As the Global Lead Sponsor, we take pride in our continued support of WCD’s mission and the impact we are making on board diversity globally.”

The local WCD launch includes 16 founding members, and in addition to KPMG has been supported by the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the Sri Lanka Institute of Directors, and the Australian government, while the US has recently committed $150 million in financial support for local woman-led small and medium-sized enterprises as the nation works towards its UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

“We are thrilled to welcome 16 new members to WCD, all of whom have strong market reputations and substantial boardroom credibility,” said Susan Keating, the CEO of WCD. “We have an extensive process for establishing a new chapter and are confident that Sri Lanka will strengthen WCD’s presence across APAC, which currently includes chapters in Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Japan, Mongolia, Singapore and South Korea.”

Compared to the growing rates in Southeast Asia, the organisation says that Sri Lanka would need a further 500 female board-members among its listed companies to reach gender parity. “The number of women directors in the overall APAC region is on the rise,” said Sampath Bank director and local WCD co-chair Aroshi Nanayakkara. “This is a critical time to have diverse voices tackling the country’s most pressing issues.”

Alfonso Garcia Mora, IFC’s regional Vice President for the Asia-Pacific, concluded; “Having a local WCD chapter in Sri Lanka is a significant milestone. This organisation provides a gateway to share experiences and learn how to navigate the latest imperatives for corporate boards today. It also provides opportunities for Sri Lankan women board-members to share their industry expertise, both locally and globally, putting Sri Lanka on the world map for women on boards.”