The John Keells Group awarded in recognition of its long-term initiatives in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

On 17th June 2023, John Keells Holdings PLC was the recipient of the award ‘Organisation promoting equity/equality and diversity of the year’ at the “Top50 Professional & Career Women Global Awards – Thirteenth Edition” 2023.

Women in Management (WIM) in collaboration with Women in Work, a partnership between the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the Government of Australia, annually recognise extraordinary leaders & corporates who have demonstrated track records of accomplishment and impact in the workplace and society.

John Keells Group (JKH) is recognised for being progressive in its approach towards valuing diversity in the workforce, the continued efforts to be a place of inclusion, and where everyone can be their true selves and where respect and trust are fundamental. The Group values its people from every ethnicity, race, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, and ability, and continues to work towards reinforcing it and celebrating this respect and trust. The company has a clear focus and understanding of the business case for diversity, in that it allows for rich debate and discussion, especially at decision-making levels.

The Group’s Chairperson Krishan Balendra speaking on the occasion said “We, as a Group, know that our strength is our people. Being an inclusive organisation, we are home to a multitude of different minds and value the diversity, innovation, and creativity that is brought in by each person to every aspect of our business, which continues to aid us in our growth. We are honoured that our efforts to create an inclusive and equitable culture are being recognised and celebrated, and hope that platforms such as these encourage more organisations to prioritise Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion.”

In 2015, JKH was the first Sri Lankan corporate to be inclusive of the LGBTIQ+ community through policy and awareness and continues to be a supportive ally.

In 2020, the Group launched its DE&I brand ONE JKH, working in the 3 pillars of increasing female participation in the workforce and value chains, inclusivity of the LGBTIQ+ community, and increasing career opportunities for Persons with Disabilities.

In 2021, the Group set a 5-year goal to increase female participation in the workforce to 40% (from 30% at the time of setting the goal) and has been working on a myriad of initiatives to reach this goal. This includes the launch of 100-days of equal parental leave (a groundbreaking initiative aimed at  eliminating the discrimination associated with recruiting women, due to potential concerns on maternity leave, and aid the workforce outside of John Keells by assisting  their partners to return to their respective workplaces or join the workforce following their maternity leave), employer- supported childcare facilities, women-centric training, mentoring and sponsoring of female talent, initiatives to increase women in leadership and non-traditional roles. Further, one of the latest initiatives include the offering of free sanitary napkins to female employees along with awareness sessions, across the Group, on menstrual health, aimed at breaking the societal stigma around menstruation.

While the Group currently does provide employment to Persons With Disabilities (PWD), the organisation launched its the PWD policy, in January 2023, a phased-out roadmap that includes the appointment of Supported Employment Officers, identification of job roles in all our sectors which can be fulfilled by those within the diverse disability categories with reasonable accommodation, and making the necessary infrastructure changes required, to make our physical and digital spaces accessible to PDW.

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