Gender equality crucial for sustainable growth and development

Only 17 per cent of respondents in discussions at the Vietnam Corporate Forum, themed “Sustainable Development in Relation to Gender Equality Strategies” and held in Hanoi on July 13 said they believe a gender equality policy creates a positive corporate culture.

Gender equality crucial for sustainable growth and development

The forum was held by Vietnam Economic Times in cooperation with the Vietnam Business Coalition for Women’s Empowerment (VBCWE), the Australian Embassy in Vietnam, and Investing in Women - an initiative of the Australian Government.

Addressing the forum, Ambassador Nguyen Phu Binh, Deputy Editor-in-Chief of Vietnam Economic Times, said that gender equality is a foundation measure and a key condition for sustainable growth and development. “The business sector is at the center of development goals and part of solutions to implement and boost equality values in general and gender equality values at the workplace,” he said. “Gender equality brings a sustainable economy and boosts society.”

Deputy Minister of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs Le Quan said that improving the economic power of women, including female business owners, is o­ne of the government’s priorities and notable achievements have been made.

Women laborers account for 73 per cent of the total in Vietnam, and 31.3 per cent of registered businesses are owned by women, according to the Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs, conducted in 57 markets in March.

The country is among the Top 10 best countries in implementing the goal of gender equality in the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the UN, according to Mr. Quan. It also ranked 69th among 144 countries measured in four key areas - health, education, economics, and politics - by the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report, released last November.

“Sustainable development being attached to gender values plays an important role in boosting and ensuring equality and fairness and in enterprises achieving their goals and the economy developing,” he said.

There remain major barriers, however, in achieving gender equality goals in Vietnam. In the two discussion panels at the forum, speakers, including policymakers and local and foreign enterprises, discussed creating equal values at the workplace, sharing experience in international and local policies, and implementing relevant policies at the workplace.

Speakers at the first discussion panel

Representatives from Garment 10, PNJ, Maritime Bank, and Unilever shared their experience in and corporate policies for creating an equal workplace environment that allows women employees to develop their careers. “Our management principles are to pay attention to talent and create a balance in the workplace that helps all employees develop to their capacity and contribute to the bank’s development,” said Mr. Huynh Buu Quang, CEO of Maritime Bank.

Ms. Ha Thu Thanh, Chairwoman and CEO of Deloitte Vietnam, said that awareness about gender equality is improving in Vietnam but needs to be accompanied by implementation to create brand value and a corporate culture. As Chairwoman of the VBCWE - established in February - she and large groups such as Maritime Bank, EVN, Traphaco, PNJ, Unilever, Garment 10 and Sasco will pursue their goals to boost gender equality and influence other companies to actively reach the goal of gender equality.

“The VBCWE’s goal is to narrow the gap in wages between women and men, increase the number of women in leadership positions, encourage the participation of women at the workplace, and facilitate a friendly environment for women employees,” she said. “Company management can also boost gender equality.”