In 2015, the United Nations SSE Initiative, along with its partners, launched the annual “Ring the Bell for Gender Equality” event to mark the International Women’s Day. Julie Becker explains why the Luxembourg Stock Exchange got involved.
You recently held a “Ring the bell for gender equality” event. What is this about?
For the second year already, we are joining this global initiative together with other exchanges, Women in ETFs, UN Global Compact, UN Women, Empower Women, the Sustainable Stock Exchanges (SSE) Initiative, IFC and the World Federation of Stock Exchanges. It’s an initiative that advocates for gender equality in the financial sector. The event’s main objective is to raise awareness of the pivotal role the private sector can play in advancing gender equality to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 5. If any of our readers would like to join next year, they should check the details here.
Is your initiative exclusively for women?
Absolutely not. Gender equality is not only about women discussing current inequalities, but rather about men and women with a shared vision of gender equality working together as partners to bring improvements to society that will benefit everyone.
Is the situation as bad as they say?
According to the Global Gender Gap Report of the World Economic Forum, gender equality will definitely be achieved – but not before 2095. The organisation has studied figures from all over the world for nine years before stating that, at the current rate, it will take over 70 years to reach equality at the workplace.
What is your ambition?
Instead of waiting for 2095 to come, the Luxembourg Stock Exchange has already started working on gender equality. Earlier this year, we have signed the IMS diversity charter, a national commitment text which aims at helping companies to act for “social equity and cohesion” through concrete actions. We have additionally signed the #NoWomenNoPanel pledge, a campaign launched “to raise awareness on gender balance in panels and public events”, and committed not to take part in any panel discussions with no female representatives. And those are not just words; all our presentations during the Stock Exchange Day and the Luxembourg Sustainable Finance Forum were either held by women or by both men and women experts.
Why do you think it is important to support gender equality?
According to the World Bank, there are only six countries in the world where, from a legal standpoint, women are 100% equal to men. Yes, Luxembourg, Belgium and France are among them, but we know that in practice – in terms of opportunities and life choices – we’re far from this goal. Did you know that women hold 15% of board seats globally and only 4% of CEO and chair positions? This does not feel right to me. It’s time to act and change it. Equality means business.
Member of the Executive Committee
Julie Becker is a member of the Executive Committee of the Luxembourg Stock Exchange and sponsor of the SHE@LuxSE group that addresses the gender inequality issue in the financial sector.