Leading Kazakh restaurant chain serves more than food for thought

There’s no place for prejudice or discrimination at Kazakhstan’s AB Restaurants chain, the first company in Central Asia to sign on to the Women’s Empowerment Principles, which place gender equality at the heart of good business practices.

Date: Thursday, December 1, 2016

Photo: AB Restaurant
Askar Baitassov, CEO of AB Restaurants (left) with Elaine M. Conkievich, UN Women Representative to Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Photo:ABRestaurant

The CEO of the largest restaurant chain in Kazakhstan, AB Restaurants, became the first Central Asian signatory on 8 November to the Women’s Empowerment Principles. Launched by the UN Global Compact and UN Women, the Principles provide guidance to businesses on how to empower women in the workplace.

Throughout Central Asia, women face gender discrimination, persistent wage gaps and limited opportunities for career advancement. While just over 44 per cent of small and medium-sized businesses in the Republic of Kazakhstan are headed by women, only 4.2 per cent of large corporations have women at the helm. The gender wage gap is 33 per cent, and 70 per cent of wage workers in the health, education and social services are women.

At AB Restaurants, however, two of its three top managers are women. Askar Baitassov, CEO of AB Restaurants, which employs 850 people, 80 per cent of whom are women, says: "We are successful thanks to women. Managing a company is about managing talents, which can be implemented only if there is no place for prejudice and discrimination."

Photo: AB restaurant
The CEO of the largest restaurant chain in Kazakhstan, AB Restaurants, became the first Central Asian signatory. Photo: AB Restaurant

Elaine M. Conkievich, UN Women Representative to Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan says: “Gender equality is not just for NGOs, government and international organization. Companies too should also engage in promoting gender equality. We commend AB Restaurants’ commitment as a champion of gender equality among businesses in Central Asia.”

The Women’s Empowerment Principles, in brief, are:

  • Principle 1: Establish high-level corporate leadership for gender equality
  • Principle 2: Treat all women and men fairly at work - respect and support human rights and non-discrimination
  • Principle 3: Ensure the health, safety and well-being of all women and men workers
  • Principle 4: Promote education, training and professional development for women
  • Principle 5: Implement enterprise development, supply chain and marketing practices that empower women
  • Principle 6: Promote equality through community initiatives and advocacy
  • Principle 7: Measure and publicly report on progress to achieve gender equality

To support Principle 6 and promote equality, AB Restaurants joined UN Women’s HeForShe Campaign which will support prominent Kazakh bloggers, opinion leaders and journalists who speak up for gender equality. The campaign will also produce a public service announcement for screening in Kazakhstan cinemas. In addition, media partner Buro 24/7 will launch a month of gender and empowerment articles, interviews and opinion pieces. Brochures on gender-related data and information will be distributed at more than AB Restaurants.

Learn more about the WEPs here: www.weprinciples.org