Turkish business leaders say "Equality means business!"

A UN Women-supported event launches the Women's Empowerment Principles (WEPs) Implementation Guide, which seeks a more prosperous future for Turkey by engaging companies to promote gender equality.

Date: Thursday, January 26, 2017

Plaques presented to all WEPs signatories who said “Equality Means Business!”
Plaques presented to all WEPs signatories who said “Equality Means Business!”. Photo: Global Compact Turkey/Tolga Sezgin

On 25 January at SALT Galata, Istanbul, UN Women and the Global Compact Turkey introduced to high-level Turkish business leaders the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs) Implementation Guide, a step by step how-to for companies seeking to implement the WEPs and actively participate in achieving gender equality in the workplace. Following a panel discussion, current Turkish WEPs signatories were honoured and given plaques that said, “Equality means business!”

“To increase women’s economic empowerment, we need policies and practices that enable women to participate in the labour market on equal terms with men. Discrimination contributes to glass ceilings and gender wage gaps. The WEPs Implementation Guide will be an important tool for the private sector to eliminate gender-based discrimination in the workplace and contribute to gender equality in Turkey,” said Ms. Ingibjorg Gisladottir, UN Women Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia and Representative to Turkey.

(from left) SUTEKS Group CEO and Business Spokesperson of WEPs Nur Ger; Dr. Erdal Karamercan, CEO of Eczacıbaşı Holding; Ingibjorg Gisladottir, UN Women Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia and Representative for Turkey; Colman Deegan, CEO of Vodafone Turkey,  Karl Kulessa, UNFPA Representative for Turkey and Country Director for Azerbaijan and Georgia;  Mehtap Tatar, UN Women Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia; Mustafa Seçkin, the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Global Compact Turkey; Ebru Dildar Edin , Vice Executive President of Garanti Bank
A meeting held to launch the Guide brought together company CEOs and representatives of civil society organizations as well as United Nations agencies. Photo: Global Compact Turkey/Tolga Sezgin

Throughout Europe and Central Asia, women are disproportionately affected by poverty, gender discrimination, persistent wage gaps between women and men, exploitation and limited opportunities for career advancement. Investing in gender equality and women’s economic empowerment leads to greater equality, poverty reduction and economic growth for all, participants noted.

“Gender equality is such an important topic, like climate change, that no country can ignore today. Expanding the Women’s Empowerment Principles, which give the business community responsibility to sustain gender equality, will bring prosperity, growth and development to our country. In short, Equality means business!” said Ms. Nur Ger, SUTEKS Group Chair and WEPs Business Advocate.

“Women account for half of the world's potential talent pipeline; over time, a nation’s competitiveness deeply depends on whether and how it educates and utilizes this prospect,” said Colman Deegan, CEO of Vodafone Turkey.

Opening panel (from left) Mehmet Ali Çalışkan, who is the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Yaşama Dair Vakıf (YADA Foundation), UN Women Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia and Representative to Turkey Ingibjorg Gisladottir, UNFPA Representative to Turkey and Country Director for Azerbaijan and Georgia Karl Kulessa and Mustafa Seçkin, the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Global Compact Turkey. Photo: Global Compact Turkey/Tolga Sezgin

This Implementation Guide is developed under UN Women Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia’s leadership and management, by YADA Foundation, in close cooperation with UN Global Compact Turkey Working Group on Women’s Empowerment, which consists of representatives from private sector, civil society, and UN Agencies. At the launch event, Mehtap Tatar, Programme Specialist, UN Women Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia introduced the Implementation Guide to private sector representatives and underlined the importance of the need for concrete steps from private sector companies to turn their WEPs commitment into realities. 

“By signing the WEPs, companies have shown their commitment and intent to implement these principles in their workplaces and fields of activity. The Implementation Guide will lead the way to transform these commitments into concrete action,” said Mr. Mehmet Ali Çalışkan, Chair of YADA Foundation's Board of Trustees.

 “Increasing women’s employment in business is vital for social development and economic growth and for sustained business success,” said Dr. Erdal Karamercan, CEO of Eczacıbaşı Holding.

“Prejudices against women prevent them from finding jobs, [being involved] in decision making in the workplace and advancing in their careers. Thus, it is important to highlight the vital role of the private sector in combating discrimination against women,” said Mr. Karl Kulessa, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Representative to Turkey and Country Director for Azerbaijan and Georgia.

Opening panel (from left) Mehmet Ali Çalışkan, who is the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Yaşama Dair Vakıf (YADA Foundation), UN Women Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia and Representative to Turkey Ingibjorg Gisladottir, UNFPA Representative to Turkey and Country Director for Azerbaijan and Georgia Karl Kulessa and Mustafa Seçkin, the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Global Compact Turkey
Business Means Equality Panel (from left to right) SUTEKS Group CEO and Business Spokesperson of WEPs Nur Ger; Dr. Erdal Karamercan, CEO of Eczacıbaşı Holding; Ebru Dildar Edin, Vice Executive President of Garanti Bank Colman Deegan, CEO of Vodafone Turkey. Photo: Global Compact Turkey/Tolga Sezgin

Organized with the support of UN Women and Turkey’s Garanti Bank, the event included top CEOs and representatives from the UN, civil society and Turkey’s WEPs signatory companies. To date, more than 1,200 companies around the world have signed the WEPs. With 148 signatories, Turkey has the second largest total of WEPs signatories of any country.

“Being a signatory of the WEPs since 2014 enabled us to have a holistic approach in our efforts in women-related matters and make them more visible,” said Ebru Dildar Edin, Executive Vice President of Garanti Bank.

By signing the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs), a joint initiative of UN Women and the UN Global Compact, signatory companies commit to the seven WEPs principles to promote gender equality in the workplace and engage to implement them in every aspect of business, from the boardroom to the workplaces and from the supply chain to society. The WEPs seek to:

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

 “Women's empowerment is a must for a more prosperous society,” said Mr. Mustafa Seçkin, Chairman of Global Compact Turkey. “Leaders in politics, the public sector, business community and civil society have crucial responsibilities. Every sector must say, ‘Equality Means Business!’”