Güler Sabancı Made The Opening Speech for The Meeting of “Women Leading The Growth in Turkey”, which is Held by Turkcell for The Third Time

05.03.2014

  • SABANCI: “THE RESEARCH, DATA AND GOOD EXAMPLES SUPPORT US. THERE IS AN ENVIRONMENT ENCOURAGUING WOMEN. NOW, WE NEED TO RUN FASTER”
  • "THE THREE STRONGEST TRENDS IN OUR DAY AND OUR WORLD ARE: CLIMATE CHANGE, URBANIZATION AND THE WOMEN'S PARTICIPATION IN THE WORK LIFE.
  • "IN COMPANIES THAT ALLOW WOMEN TO BE EFFICIENTLY ACTIVE IN THE SENIOR MANAGEMENT, A POSITIVE CHANGE CAN BE SEEN IN CORPORATE AND FINANCIAL PERFORMANCE, THE QUALITY OF CRITICAL DECISIONS, CREATIVITY, INNOVATION AND ETHICAL BEHAVIOUR.
  • "SUCCESS ORIENTED ORGANIZATIONS AND WOMEN / MEN MANAGERS MUST TAKE THIS ELEMENT INTO CONSIDERATION IN THEIR DECISIONS."
  • "THE WIND IS ON OUR SIDE. WE MUST DETERMINE OUR TARGET WELL. THE TARGET IS EQUALITY.”

Güler Sabancı made the opening speech for the third "Women Leading the Growth in Turkey" held by Turkcell. In her speech, Sabancı talked about the participation of women to the work life in Turkey and in the world. At the end of her speech, during which she addressed more than 700 business women, she was strongly applauded by the participants including the film actress Filiz Akın.

Sabancı mentioned the following in her speech:

“One of the most important trends that will influence the world is the women's participation in the workforce... You might have watched, in the interview I gave to CNN International I said: "This will be the women's century!" I believe this with all my heart.

Just like climate change and urbanization, the participation of the women in the work life and their rise is an inevitable trend but also a process that has certain pains associated with it, just like other big changes. However, those who harmonize themselves with this process and those who can get past these pains successfully will get ahead in the competition.

We have made a good progress; you are the best proof of that. However, this is not enough. We have a lot of work to do!

When we look at Google, it can be understood that the words woman and business first got associated in the 1900's. In 1910, March 8 is declared as the World Women's Day. However a real awakening of women takes place in the 1960's. It's only then that the women's rightful requests for joining the workforce starts to create the effect it is supposed to create in the society.

1980/90's are the years they begin to understand/realize their potential. It is found out that women's participation in the workforce supports economic growth. The awareness concerning the importance of sexual equality increased. In parallel to this, governmental policies are being developed.

That's when my awakening took place. First you enjoy being the first and only woman. It feels like a privilege. Then you realize there's something "wrong" or "incomplete" about this. You believe this shouldn't be so and start working.

In terms of the role of the women, we can define the last 10 - 20 years as the utilization of this realized and acknowledged potential. The Gender Gap Report prepared by the World Economic Forum was first published in 2006. The United Nations founded its office working on Women issues, UN Women, in 2010. These examples give us clues about the change.

According to the research held by the USA Worker Statistics Institution, the participation of women in the workforce was under 40% in 1960 while in 2012 this rate was increased up to 57%. This means the statistics increased from 40% to 57% in 52 years.

Why am I speaking about the USA? The USA is an exemplary country in terms of equality, democracy, protection of women's rights and the women's participation in the economy.

According to FED's reports, in the USA, 51.3% of the assets are controlled by women. (And as you know, finally FED has a woman president.) It is stipulated that women who own 51% of the assets currently shall own 2/3 of the assets in 2020. The reason for this increase is seen as women being able to give long term and more profitable decisions!

During the opening of the “Women of the World" conference I attended last year in New York, I had an opportunity to listen to the former minister of foreign affairs Hillary Clinton. In the USA, where women can be such a big part of the economic force and is an exemplary country in terms of rights and equalities, Hillary Clinton said, referring to the participation of women in economy: "we have an unfinished business”!

Even in a developed country like the USA, that has the highest standards in terms of superiority of law and democracy and equality is a life style, Hillary Clinton, being such an influential within the last 10 years, makes such a remark. This is because that country also has problems and difficulties of its own.

The research and estimates display that in 2020, in the USA; there won't be an increase in the women's participation in the workforce, but instead, a 3% decrease is expected. Yes, in the USA most of the assets are controlled by women. 10 years ago, eight of the Fortune 500 companies' CEO's were women. Now this number is 23.

Last year, I performed the opening of an energy conference at MIT. One of the matters discussed there was the insufficiency of the number of women with engineering degrees and how this problem would be overcome…

This means that while we put our efforts into ensuring that our girls study at least until 18 years old and do not get married until then, they are working to increase the number of women engineers. They have already come a long way but say "we have an unfinished business". They have progress to make…

On the other hand, we are just starting on many matters. There is an empty and a full part of the glass. It is important which part you're looking at. I am of the kind that likes to be motivated by looking at the full part of the glass.

Therefore, I take courage from what has been done until now. I also look at what has been accomplished in the USA. If they can make it, so can we, I say.

I say, let's determine our target, our peak first. We must protect our courage and work efficiently towards the goals.

However, the climate that the world's in gives us conditions that support our journey. The wind is on our side. We can have our sails filled with air and move faster. Yet for those who don't know where they're going, no wind is the right wind.

We want equality!

Equal rights, Equal opportunities, Equal support!

We want to deserve this equality.

We don't want a privilege! We want our rights!

We know that it is not enough for just the law to be on equality's side. Applications, mind-set, and the society's point of view are also definitive elements... We all have a part to play in this.

The conditions we are currently in improve each day but it is not enough.

- Turkey, according to 2012 numbers, is 68th in the United Nations societal sexual inequality.

-According to the Gender Gap Report prepared by the World Economic Forum in 2013, we are 120th in 136 countries.

-The participation of the women in the workforce as of 2012 in Turkey is 30%.

The participation of our women in economy is actually truly mandatory for Turkey's future.

Today, the participation of the women in the workforce is 30%. The participation of men in the workforce is 70%. However, this may increase up to 75%.

Therefore, if Turkey is going to make a make a move for the 2023 targets, we must increase the participation rate of the women in the workforce. For this, we need to educate our women and prepare them to participate. We must plan the participation of our women eloquently and direct it in a manner that will support economic development.

Let me be clearer, if more economic participation from women is not ensured, it is not possible for Turkey to fulfill its 2023 targets under these conditions.

In our country, we see that, as in the business world, in the area that we most need them, politics, the participation of women is also limited.

According to the United Nations Women's Participation in Politics Report, we are 90th among 96 countries.

According to the same report, while representation in the Assembly is 20% in the world average,

In our country this rate is 14%. In Scandinavian countries this rate is 42% while in the USA it is 22.6%.

As the local elections are approaching, the candidate lists of political parties are being declared. The number of women candidates among 4 thousand 155 candidates is only 246. These numbers are of course insufficient. But let's not give up. Let's accept it as a beginning and support it. I hope there will be more women candidates in the 2015 general elections.

Even though the number of women participating in politics is small, I wish for them to be successful and to "create a difference" so as to lead the way for the new generations. WE must also target to be above the world average as well.

We cannot fulfill a self assured, democratic, free and just Turkey without the women. Let us not forget that we are one of the first women to gain the right to elected and to be elected, one of the most prominent gains of the republic. Let us claim this right to the end.

It was last mentioned at Davos. Especially in developing countries like ours, for the democracy to develop healthily, it is important for women to be situated and participate equally in every area. The developing countries who can manage this will make a difference in the 10-20 years to come, get ahead in the competition.

In our country, as in many countries, many valuable works are being performed on sexual inequality. Assessing this situation, making comparisons with other countries is undoubtedly the beginning of an improvement. I always say: We cannot improve what we cannot measure. This research will open the way. Now, we don't need to lose time to convince anybody. We can run faster without losing time.

This, of course, also requires for our women to increase their sufficiency.

If we are to look at the full part of the glass, according to the work performed by the UN Commission in OECD and BRIC countries, while the rate of women CEO's is under 5% in the concerning countries, Finland, Norway and Turkey are the three countries with the highest rate of women CEO's with 12% or more. We watch the developments with gladness.

As I mentioned previously, I started to focus on this subject matter in the 80's and the beginning of 90's. I received the offer to make a speech to motivate the women employees as a role model in the beginning of the 90's from Dupont. In my 30's, I was the general manager of Kordsa and later assigned as the group chairman. They invited me to USA, Delaware, meaning they wanted me to share my experience abroad before Turkey. My authorities and responsibilities back then was interesting for even USA companies. Today, Dupont is managed by a woman CEO, Ellen Kullman, who entered the company as an engineer and made her way to the top... In Dupont, established in 1802, the first time a women CEO is assigned is 2009. Another indicator of the trend I've been mentioning... This speech has been a beginning. Later on, in Turkey and abroad, I participated in many such meetings and shared my experiences.

Because the most important thing is to get "self-confidence". Believing that you will make it, seeing those who made it and knowing those who made it increases this self-confidence.

Research results display that women make a positive contribution to the work life. In companies that allow women to efficiently be a part of senior management, positive changes in both corporate and financial performance, quality of critical decisions, creativity, innovation and ethical behavior are observed.

Therefore, in work life, the existence and efficiency of the women is an important element in terms of the success of the business. Success oriented organizations must take this element into consideration in women / men manager decisions.

Another reality in the work life is that while the total gain of the world women is 13 trillion, their spending capacity is 20 trillion. In other words, we ladies like to spend. And we are effective decision makers in spending.

Therefore, as consumers, women have a serious potential in terms of decision making and managing the consumer economy. In the USA, 85% of all purchasing decisions are made by women. This shows us once more how the women have an indispensible role in the work life.

The age we are in is called the mobile age and women, who have a high multi-tasking ability undoubtedly, benefit more easily from this age and it will continue to be so.

United Nations Strengthening the Women Principles were signed by more than 700 CEO's worldwide. It is our happiness that we were the first to sign in Turkey. I know that Turkcell also signed. The Quality in the Workplace platform established within the scope of the WEF gender task force has almost 200 signatories. These signatures must not remain on paper but be carried into effect; In order to ensure participation you must follow the employments, promotions, the pipeline.

I would like to share our numbers with you.

In the Sabancı Group, we increased the rate of our women managers from 23% to 38% in the time period from 2006 to 2013. While our women employee rate is around 38% when we look at the general condition, the rate of women employed in the group since the beginning of the year reached 40%. In 2013, the rate of women working in positions as manager and higher reached 30%. This matter continues to be a priority in our agenda.

The research performed in our country displays that there are regional differences. We focus on this area with the Sabancı Foundation, of which we are celebrating the 40th anniversary. Our foundation, which was founded 40 years ago with my grandmother Sadıka Sabancı donating all its properties, in other words under the pioneership and will of a woman, works in our day to contribute to women so as to provide better conditions for them. Our foundation has always rallied girls going to school. We built our first girls' dormitory in Ankara so as to allow girls to come and stay in Ankara in 1984 (it is one of the tallest buildings of its era).

In 2005, we performed a new strategy work for the Sabancı Foundation. One of the developments of our new strategy has been the grant program. We work to lead the way for and develop civil society organizations.

In this program, we also give a priority to cso's performing works for women. We share our knowledge and also provide monetary support.

Again, as the Sabancı Foundation, we carry out the "United Nations Associate for Developing the Women's Human Rights" since 2006.

Societal improvement and development only takes place with the public, private sector and civil society working together and effectively. This is called the success triangle in the world.

For this reason, we carry out the Associate Program together with the United Nations, Ministry of Internal Affairs, Ministry of Family and Social Policies and concerning civil society organizations. We completed the program in 6 provinces, continuing it in 11 provinces.

The works we performed made the subject of women more visible on the local and national level and yielded successful results. The authorities declared new regulations protecting women's rights.

In the new era of the associate program, our focal point will be to ensure that societal sexual equality in taken into consideration and the institutionalizing of such.

Sabancı Foundation, together with other civil society organizations and its focused projects, reaches successful results tenaciously albeit with difficulty.

** for example girls who were ensured to go back to their schools..

** mothers who look into the future with hope and extend to everything with great effort.

** our women attending computer courses..

We also see CSO's and successful examples that work like CSO's on their own. We share these in the "Those That Make a Difference" program.

As the Sabancı Group, we believe that these works and other should become widespread in Turkey.

There are many successful works and voluntary organizations such as Turkcell's Snowdrops. The works performed by the companies with a social responsibility approach and the development of civil society organizations give us hope. The number of CSO's increase each day. Big and effective projects are being carried out.

There is research, proof and beautiful examples. Now there is an environment that encourages us all. We must benefit from this and not lose time. We must run faster.

Our target is the Himalayas. We must target the peak. Yet remember that Himalayas consist of small hills. Therefore we must also target each small hill, prepare accordingly and climb those hills.

All research and data show that we need women and their participation for a better world, a better democracy and a better future.

A better world will not come into existence without the women's participation increasing We know that for sure.

This change will return to all of us as a higher quality democracy and

a higher quality life in a growing world!

I would like to end my speech by sharing the 3 rules that were highly valuable to me for reaching for success.

First: Don't give up. Never! Business life is hard, for women it is even more difficult. Accept it as it is. Don't whine about it. Work and show patience. Persevere. Hold your position tight. Have your feet on the ground.

Second: Reach out for people. As for help. Ask for a piece of mind. No shame in that. Ask questions. Don't abstain from this because what matters is reaching the right result. What matters is accomplishing the right thing.

Third: Even if you are under great difficulty under the most difficult conditions, clench your teeth and smile!