To help close the gender gap and promote greater work-life balance, particularly at a time of COVID-19 impacts, IFC and the Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry Sri Lanka (FCCISL) have launched a new online learning series to strengthen business commitment towards flexible work and family-friendly practices to help employees.
Over 40 Sri Lankan businesses participated in the first in a series of online learning sessions by the ‘Together We Can’ partnership – launched under the IFC-DFAT Women in Work program. The partnership is aimed at promoting gender-smart policies among Sri Lankan businesses, with a particular focus on helping mitigate COVID-19 impacts.
Globally, the pandemic has disproportionately affected women’s employment and unpaid care responsibilities. According to IFC research conducted among 15 leading Sri Lankan companies, female employees were twice as likely to report increased household or care responsibilities due to COVID-19.
“Never before has work and family life been so intertwined as we have seen over the past year. COVID-19 has shown us that family-friendly policies are not just ‘nice to haves’ but ‘must haves’,” said Victor Antonypillai, IFC’s Acting Country Manager for Sri Lanka and Maldives. “Greater flexibility in balancing personal and professional lives could yield positive impacts. Employers who put the needs of their employees first during this crisis are better set to achieve long-term business sustainability, productivity, and profitability.”
The ‘Together We Can’ learning sessions, which will be led by local and global industry experts over a year, will cover areas including diversity in leadership, building respectful workplaces as well as recruitment and promotion. It comes at a time when increasing numbers of employees are working from home.
“FCCISL is excited to join IFC in launching ‘Together We Can’ to revitalize the gender balance in the private sector workforce,” said Shirley Jayawardena, President of Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry Sri Lanka (FCCISL). “To deliver sustainable growth and achieve a strong pandemic recovery, we must engage the full force of our human capital. Both men and women need to be equal stakeholders in the workplace.”
Family-friendly policies such as paid leave, safe transportation, and flexible work arrangements significantly benefit businesses and all employees, but specifically, working parents and children.
“The Australian Government is proud to support this latest online learning series that offers important expertise Sri Lankan businesses can use to effectively navigate the impacts of COVID-19,” said Amanda Jewell, Australian Deputy High Commissioner to Sri Lanka. “This series will bring together women and men from a wide range of companies across Sri Lanka’s private sector, to become equal stakeholders in the post-pandemic business recovery journey, driving gains in productivity, competitiveness and innovation.”