Gender equality is a human right and a critical component of the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It is also a driver of economic growth and enterprise development: progress towards gender equality is a core contributor to more economically prosperous and socially cohesive societies. The purpose of this guidance is to provide exchanges with a set of best practice examples and tools they can use to play their part in promoting gender equality in their markets and within their own operations. Exchanges play a central role in the economies in which they operate.
Globally, exchanges list over 50,000 companies with a market capitalisation of over $90 trillion. In many jurisdictions, the exchange defines, directly and indirectly, what is expected from the companies listed on its markets and the entities transacting through its markets. Policy makers, regulators, investors and civil society are increasingly demanding greater action on gender equality. Exchanges are well-placed to meet this demand with an influence and a voice across the capital markets ecosystem. Exchange action on gender equality falls into three broad categories detailed in the Gender Equality Action Plan for exchanges below.
Two of these categories are market-focused and one is focused on what exchanges can do internally. While mobilising finance and improving women’s access to financial markets, through the provision of products and services, can help to address gender inequality, other interventions that strengthen market performance are at least as, if not more, relevant. This guidance explores why gender equality is an issue that exchanges should be concerned with (Section 1), and the state of gender equality and the types of interventions most relevant for exchanges (Section 2). Based on real world examples from exchanges around the globe, the guidance sets out an action plan for exchanges (see figure below and Section 3). The guidance concludes by looking forward, setting out how the UN Sustainable Stock Exchanges (SSE) initiative will work with partners to support exchanges in these efforts in the future (Section 4). Additional resources and guidance are provided in the Annexes