John Keells Group; committed to Women Empowerment, Equality and Diversity.

2017 International Women’s Day comes with a clarion call for #BeBoldForChange to help forge a more gender inclusive world in line with the United Nations Global Goals. It is clearly apparent that the world’s increasing globalization requires more interaction among people from diverse backgrounds.  For this reason, maximizing and capitalizing on workplace diversity has become an important focus for management.

The John Keells Group (JKH) believes that female representation in all businesses and functions, and not simply in roles which are traditionally female-dominated and female orientated, as an integral part of this diversity. The Group has found that their corporate culture of non-discrimination improves performance of their workforce and improves their social interactions at all levels whether at work or otherwise.

Ms. Dilani Alagaratnam a member of the JKH Group Executive Committee and President  Legal, Human Resources, CSR and Enterprise Risk Management Functions of JKH said that “as a Group we are committed to recruiting, developing and promoting individuals who best meet the requirements of available positions and possess the required competencies, experience and qualifications, irrespective of gender, race, religion, age, nationality, social origin, disability, sexual orientation and gender identity, political affiliation or opinion. Our Equal opportunity and non-discrimination policies have been embedded in the way we do business and in the employee life cycle.  Firm grounding of these policies has ensured that these policies are in fact practiced as evident from our workforce-demographics numbers. We also believe that increasing the strength of qualified and experienced female leadership at the helm of the organisation are vital as role models and thereby facilitate recruitment and retention of our female staff. As at 31 December 2016 26% of the Executive cadre are women; we believe that women in senior leadership roles translate to operational results in that the quality of debate and the decision making gets better with different perspectives being brought to the table”.

Further, in line with the emphasis JKH places on corporate citizenry, the Group has initiatives which focus on women empowerment through long term CSR projects. Project WAVE (Working Against Violence through Education), is one such ongoing long-term initiative on preventing gender-based violence and child abuse through education and awareness.  Since the launch of the project in November 2014, awareness sessions have been conducted in all sectors of John Keells Group businesses and more than 10,222 employees have directly benefitted. External sessions were also conducted for 4,366  persons including members of the Sri Lanka Bar Association, Police officers in Kalutara and Colombo, School children, University students, and Police officers at the Women’s and Child’s desk team in Puthukkudiyiruppu, Mullaitivu. In total, more than 14,500 persons have been sensitized as at end February 2017.

Further through the Group’s community and livelihood development projects – with many of the company adopted villages comprising female-headed households JKH has identified the need to promote and equip women with basic facilities, knowledge and skills to be socially and economically independent. In each of these villages, a women’s organization has been established as a platform for women to collectively work together towards promoting the social, economic, cultural and political wellbeing of their community and themselves, forge partnerships for commercial enterprises and discuss and resolve community issues towards achieving peace and justice. JKH has in these instances acted as an enabling partner by supporting the women’s organizations in raising seed capital, facilitating basic needs such as access to water and electricity, enhancing awareness on critical aspects such as health and nutrition, saving and book-keeping and building capacity through initiatives such as sewing, rug-making, fabric painting, home-gardening and mushroom cultivation.

JKH is known for its bold approach in everything it undertakes and enabling and empowering women, at its own workplaces or in the community to contribute and enhance their potential is close to its heart and the milestones it has achieved to date stand testimony to this commitment.


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