FineChem Wins CEO Gender Award for Working with India's Chemical Industry to Create Job Opportunities for Women (March 2012)
March 12, 2012-- FineChem, an IFC project, won this year's IFC CEO Gender Award for its pioneering work in opening up India's chemical sector to women employees. IFC EVP and CEO Lars Thunell presented the award to this Environment, Social, and Governance project at a ceremony held at Headquarters on March 8, on the occasion of International Women’s Day.
The Hon. Rosie Rios, Treasurer of the United States, was the keynote speaker at the ceremony, which was observed by a packed auditorium at Headquarters and 19 country offices via videoconferencing. Representatives from governments and women’s organizations also attended.
Echoing IFC's vision for gender equality, Rios said, "It is so key to make sure we create opportunities for women where they are needed most."
She also stressed the importance of "recognition, connection, and inspiration" in promoting women in business -- specifically, the significance of "recognizing the role women are playing, connecting the public and private sectors, and thinking about the next generation and planting seeds for leadership."
In 2008, IFC invested in the FineChem plant – one of four plants of Meghmani Organics Ltd. (MOL), an Indian chemical company. IFC worked with MOL to identify policies and measures necessary to allow recruiting women into their workforce. As a result, MOL adopted flexible hours to meet local legal requirements, installed female restrooms and other women-only facilities, and established policies that fostered a friendly work environment for women employees.
At the end of June 2011, FineChem had hired 45 female employees – the very first women among the 630 employees of the FinChem plant and the 2,000 workers across all MOL plants. Following the success of this project, other IFC chemical clients in India have also started adopting similar employment practices which better address women’s needs.
Thunell said that even though the number of working women in the developed world is now exceeding the number of men, women often continue to earn less than their male counterparts and certain professions are still considered inappropriate for women.
"Changing stereotypes and attitudes towards women is one of the most difficult but far-reaching things we can set out to do," he said. The projects nominated for this award reflect the progress IFC has made in bringing the inclusion of women into its investment and advisory work, Thunell added.
Rachel Robbins, IFC Vice President and General Counsel, and Karin Finkelston, IFC Vice President for Asia, also participated in the award ceremony. Finkelston participated via video link from Bangkok where the East Asia Pacific Women Focus Group celebrated International Women's Day with women leaders from the international business community.
Both VPs recognized the leadership of Thunell, who launched the Gender Award in 2008 and under whose tenure IFC has expanded its focus on increasing access to finance for women entrepreneurs, reducing gender-based barriers in the investment climate, and improving the sustainability of IFC investment projects. They also thanked Thunell for his leadership in improving IFC's internal gender diversity.
The IFC CEO Gender Award process is managed by the Women in Business team, which is housed in the Sustainable Business Advisory department. This year’s awards were chosen from 27 nominations from across all of IFC’s regional offices. The Financial Markets team was the first runner-up for promoting women’s access to finance in Romania and Turkey. The Bangladesh Special Economic Zones team was the second runner-up for its work with women in Bangladesh.
2012 IFC CEO Gender Award Winners and Runners-Up Winner: CES FineChem Team
Lakhdeep Babra, William Bulmer, Anil Chandramani, Larry Jiang, Kelly H. Johnson, Shuhrat Kuziev, John Middleton, Patricia Miller, Ramesh Ramanathan, Robin Sandenburgh, Alok Kumar Singh, and Saffie Wurie.
First Runner-Up: Financial Markets Romania and Turkey Project
Vikram Agrawal, Kudret Akgun, Mehmet Akgunay, Wolfram Fischer, Mert Garan, Olena Guven, Mouayed Makhlouf, Patience Marime-Ball, Zina Nabulsi, Andreia Radu, Sadia Sajjad, Ed Strawderman, and Yasam Talu,
Second Runner-up: SEZ Bangladesh Project
Gokhan Akinci, Paramita Dasgulta, Narissa Haider, and Martin Norman.