Güler Sabancı Delivers Keynote Address At UN Women’s “Gender Equality For Sustainable Business” Conference

06.03.2012
  • GÜLER SABANCI DELIVERS KEYNOTE ADDRESS AT UN WOMEN'S "GENDER EQUALITY FOR SUSTAINABLE BUSINESS" CONFERENCE
  • SABANCI: "GENDER EQUALITY IS NOT A BURDEN; IT'S A BLESSING"
  • "SABANCI HAS ALWAYS BEEN AT THE FOREFRONT OF THE GENDER EQUALITY MOVEMENT IN TURKEY"
  • "BY SIGNING THE WOMEN'S EMPOWERMENT PRINCIPLES, WE HAVE SHOWED OUR TRUE COMMITMENT TO THE CAUSE OF GENDER EQUALITY IN THE WORK PLACE"

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Chairman and Managing Director of Sabancı Holding, Güler Sabancı, delivered the keynote address at United Nations' "Gender Equality For Sustainable Business" Conference in New York.  Also in attendance were UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon; Executive Director of the Global Compact, George Kell; UN Women Executive Director Michelle Bachelet, as well as a large number of dignitaries from around the world.  During her speech, Ms Sabancı said:

 "All my life, I have been addressing the issue of gender equity. I was raised in a male dominant yet progressive family.  I was lucky. Throughout my education, and then my professional life, I had my family's full support.

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That is why Sabancı Holding has always been ahead of its time when it came to gender equity. And this encouraged me throughout my career.  However, I have always been fully aware that this did not reflect the reality of the general environment in my country, Turkey.  I have always felt an extra level of responsibility because of this, and have been an advocate of the advancement of women in all walks of life.

This is why Sabancı has been at the forefront of the gender equality movement in Turkey.  We have championed the cause not just for our own sake, but for the sake of our country. Since 2006, we have increased the amount of women executives from 23% to 28% in 2011. 34% of all our employees are women. In our insurance firm AvivaSA this number is 64%. In Akbank, one of Turkey's largest banking institutions, 51% of our employees are women. 

These are significantly above the national average of women's labor force participation in Turkey. As in other countries, female employment has always been comparatively higher in the services sector. However, I also observe serious improvements in Sabancı Holding's more traditional industries such as cement or automobile manufacturing.

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Of course, this is a journey, which requires continuous effort. That is why when we signed the Women's Empowerment Principles, we, as Sabancı, showed our true commitment to the cause of gender equality in the work place.  These principles lay the foundation for empowering women. And in order to create an enabling environment in our companies, it is critical that we engage our leadership teams and secure their ownership.

I personally emphasize the principles of women's empowerment in each opportunity I am given.

In fact, at our last meeting, I asked my leadership team to identify specific actions to promote the Women's Empowerment Principles in their organizations. They welcomed this opportunity and are fully committed to the initiative.

Once they are ready, we will come together in a meeting with the full attendance of our top leadership. I am looking forward to this convening in which each leader will present their plans to put these principles into action."

-"WOMEN POSSESS CRITICAL LEADERSHIP SKILLS"

Sabancı continued:  "It just makes good business sense to have more women in the workplace.  Women represent half of the talent pool and studies have shown that they bring in critical leadership skills.  Providing equal opportunities based on merit to women and men can enable companies to tap into the widest possible pool of talent. Greater diversity in organisations leads to higher performing teams and better business results.

Diversity, in turn, fuels innovation-led growth.  And sustainability in business can only be achieved through innovation. So, gender equality is not a burden: it is a blessing.  Fostering an equal opportunity workplace is to the business leadership's own benefit."

-SABANCI GROUP'S DEDICATION TO GENDER EQUALITY-

120306_3_orjinal.jpgGüler Sabancı reiterated Sabancı Group's dedication to gender equality, and continued:  "Since 2006, we have had a "Joint Program to Promote and Protect Human Rights of Women and Girls," which involves all of the United Nations agencies, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Sabancı Foundation and the Sabancı University.  The Joint Program offers a platform where UN organizations, local governments, public institutions, non-governmental organizations and private sector institutions can work together towards long-lasting results for gender equality and women's empowerment. 

This program was the first of its kind in Turkey. The greatest challenge was working with many different stakeholders from the public, private and non profit sectors. Yet this was also the program's greatest asset.

I truly believe that working in partnership with all stakeholders is the key to generating social impact in our efforts for gender equality.

As such, the Sabancı Foundation will continue supporting a Joint Program for women's empowerment in partnership with UNDP, UN Women, the Ministry of Family and Social Policy, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Sabancı University.

We all know that the issue of gender equity remains a challenge across the world, in every aspect of society. Yet with ownership and commitment of business leaders, and by working in partnership with all stakeholders, I am sure we can make a difference."

The Conference can be viewed on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kn0jYvBcZUI&feature=player_embedded