SINGAPORE - Gender equality bonds might be a more recent type of product but they still have a major role in sustainability, which is becoming increasingly popular in general. Panelists from major institutions across the region discussed key developments with gender equality bonds, being generally optimistic about these bonds.
Gender equality bonds are usually issued to provide funding to companies that are trying to improve gender equality between men and women at work such as by increasing the amount of women employees or managers.
“Green financing is receiving growing interest, as are other sustainability issues. This year we have a total of five issues of gender equality bonds,” says Augusto King, managing director and head of capital markets group, Asia, MUFG Securities.
“The gender bond fits our mandate of ESG and aligns with the materiality of the SDG, especially in empowering women, creating an impact on inclusive growth,” says Poonsit Wongthawatchai, executive vice president, environmental, social and governance division, Bank of Ayudhya.
“Among SMEs, those that are more gender equal have a 3% NPL rate compared to a 9% NPL rate overall,” says Mehmet Mumcuogl, regional portfolio manager, financial institutions group – East Asia Pacific region, International Finance Corporation.
However, the newness of gender bonds means not all institutions have implemented them yet as there are still unknown factors and a lack of experience.
“There is a possibility to be added to the green and social bond framework of MUFG, though gender is not an element yet,” says Yoko Yanagida, head of sustainable business office, MUFG Bank.
“It is a bit difficult to quantify the time we need to do the due diligence as the gender bond is rather new,” says Mumcuogl.
On the broader issue of gender representation, Asia is doing relatively well in several areas.
“Globally, Asia has the most women CEOs,” says Jessica Espinoza, senior manager, corporate strategy & development policy, and global gender finance lead DEG - Deutsche Investitions- und Entwicklungsgesellschaft.
A recent study by Credit Suisse stated that Asia-Pacific led the world in terms of female CEOs while the number of women in management positions reached 19 percent.