Moving the Needle on Turkiye’s Female Board Presence

In Turkiye, less than one of every eight firms (11.7 percent) has at least one woman on its board. Compare this to an Eastern Europe average of 18.7 percent and a developed world average of 17.3 percent.

That's why IFC has joined the fight and begun to boost awareness on advancing Turkiye’s board diversity agenda.

“It takes working on several fronts to move the needle,” explains Aisha Williams, IFC Country Manager for Turkiye. “We support research and awareness, and as an investor, we explore with our business partners opportunities to strengthen gender diversity of their boards."

Turkiye is far from the 23-23 target of Sabanci University’s International Women Directors (IWD) project, which aims to double Turkiye’s female board presence in the next seven years - placing women on 23 percent of the country’s corporate boards by 2023.

IFC recently partnered with IWD to support their annual report and conference, which took place in February and brought together some 200 representatives from Turkiye’s business community. The assembled engaged in discussions on gender diversity and honored Turkish companies with the most ‘women-empowered’ boards.

IFC moderated a panel which focused on the business benefits of gender diverse boards. The panel featured Ebru Koksal, a recent board appointee to IFC’s equity investee MNT, an IFC client since 2012. MNT is a leading Turkish provider of molecular imaging and oncology services.

“Most of my corporate career has been in male-dominated arenas such as professional football,” said Koksal. “I found that combining different male and female perspectives produced more rounded analysis and smarter decisions. Businesses benefit when they break up the mono culture that exists on all-male company boards.”

When executives at MNT realized that expanding their board and achieving greater diversity would boost their regional presence, IFC stepped in to help, tapping into a pool of board-ready female candidates provided by IWD. Koksal turned out to be the best fit.

She's one of two women IFC has placed on boards of equity clients in Turkiye this year. IFC also brought Graca Dominguez to the board of UNIT Investment NV, a Turkish investor in power plants and renewable energy.

“Gender board diversity is not just about getting more women on boards,” said Williams, speaking at the recent Ring the Bell for Gender Equality event in Istanbul. “Rather, it’s about promoting board diversity as a powerful means to improve company dynamics and performance.”

It’s also about enabling Turkiye to realize its full economic potential.

 

IFC promotes board diversity through its Corporate Governance Program, by building capacity and supporting training for senior women executives and women for management and leadership positions; raising awareness and expanding the discussion about gender diversity; and increasing the number of women IFC-nominated director positions, now at 28 percent compared to 15 percent in 2011. With the New Directorship policies, IFC will endeavor to have equal representation of men and women on boards. For more information, visit our women on boards page.

 

March 2016