New corporate governance code discussed at annual Ring the Bell event in Georgia

Date: Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Over 60 representatives of the private sector, the Government, civil society and the international community gathered to discuss the new quota for women’s representation on the supervisory boards of commercial banks in Georgia.

George Paresishvili, CEO of the Georgian Stock Exchange; Jan van Bilsen, IFC Regional Manager for the South Caucasus; Vegard Stensrud, Deputy Head of Mission of the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Baku; and Tamar Sabedashvili, UN Women Deputy Country Representative opened the event by jointly “ringing the bell”
George Paresishvili, CEO of the Georgian Stock Exchange, Jan van Bilsen, IFC Regional Manager for the South Caucasus, Vegard Stensrud, Deputy Head of Mission of the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Baku and Tamar Sabedashvili, UN Women Deputy Country Representative opened the event by jointly "ringing the bell"; Photo: UN Women/Tako Robakidze

On 12 March 2019, the Georgian Stock Exchange, UN Women and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) held the annual Ring the Bell for Gender Equality event for the second time in Georgia.

As the host of the event, George Paresishvili, CEO of the Georgian Stock Exchange, underlined: “At the nexus of company and investor interaction, a stock exchange is uniquely positioned to influence capital markets to progress in closing the gender gap.”

The event’s panel discussions focused on the 2018 corporate governance for commercial banks, which requires that at least 20 per cent of supervisory board members are women. Teona Kontridze, Head of the Corporate Governance and Regulatory Policy Unit at the National Bank of Georgia (NBG), explained the NBG’s rationale for adopting the new code, and IFC discussed how it relates to board quotas in other countries, specifically in Europe.

“Increasing the participation of women as entrepreneurs, employees and business leaders is not only a moral imperative but a smart business strategy,” said Jan van Bilsen, IFC Regional Manager for the South Caucasus. “Research has highlighted that correcting gender imbalances could lead to important economic gains.”

Ms. Nino Suknidze, General Counsel of the Bank of Georgia shared her perspective in the event’s second panel discussion
Ms. Nino Suknidze, General Counsel of the Bank of Georgia shared her perspective in the event's second panel discussion; Photo: UN Women/Tako Robakidze

The event was supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Norway, which was one of the first countries to introduce a quota law requiring the boards of listed companies to comprise at least 40 per cent women. Reflecting on Norway’s 15-year experience with quotas, Vegard Stensrud, Deputy Head of Mission of the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Baku, stated that “it should not even be contested that women are just as capable of running a company as men are.”

The participants agreed that gender quotas are a positive step forward but far from a sufficient measure for achieving gender equality in company management teams and the workforce overall. Tamar Sabedashvili, UN Women Deputy Country Representative, highlighted that “increasingly more companies around the world are going beyond legislative or quota requirements to make women’s empowerment a reality.”

The Ring the Bell for Gender Equality event is a global partnership of IFC, the Sustainable Stock Exchanges Initiative, the UN Global Compact, UN Women, Women in ETFs and the World Federation of Exchanges.