Gender equality project for the suppliers in Anatolia

2 July 2019
- 5 min Read

With the support of TSKB and the AFD (the Agence Française de Développement) within the scope of women's employment loan program, Koton now aims to raise awareness of social gender equality in the supply chain with its project implemented in collaboration with Escarus. In the first phase of the Koton Stakeholders Social Gender Equality project, work on gender equality will be carried out together with 16 suppliers operating in various regions of Turkey such as Istanbul, Niğde, Bursa, Diyarbakır, Iğdır, Kastamonu, İzmir, Kırklareli, Batman. The project aims to touch the lives of nearly 3,000 employees.

Implementing a vast array of projects to change the social perception and provide equal opportunities for women in working life, the Industrial Development Bank of Turkey (TSKB) is now drawing a road map for companies on social gender equality through the TSKB Sustainability Consultancy – Escarus, following the successful implementations in the women's employment loan program which it started with the French Development Agency (AFD) three years ago. One of the latest examples of this is the “Koton Stakeholder Social Gender Equality” project, which aims to raise awareness of gender equality in 16 companies which Koton has identified in its supply chain, and to initiate a positive transformation. The puts the project in the position of being a first in Turkey.

Within the scope of the project, which will be conducted under the consultancy of Escarus, first of all visits will be conducted to the companies while an implementation tool and certain questions will measure the current status of the companies in the field of equal opportunity and action plans will be set out to support gender equality. At the end of the work, which will take approximately one year, the companies will be certified by Escarus. Thus, the certified companies will confirm that they are attentive to gender equality and women's empowerment through their activities, recruitment processes and communication activities to the national and international public. In the project, work will be carried out on gender equality with 16 suppliers operating in various regions of Turkey such as Istanbul, Niğde, Bursa, Diyarbakır, Iğdır, Kastamonu, İzmir, Kırklareli, Batman.

Within the scope of the project, companies will be evaluated on the following seven topics:

  • Top Management Commitment
  • Recruitment Criteria
  • Training and Personal Development
  • Career Development and Equality of Opportunity
  • Career Support for Employees with Children
  • Managing Harassment in the Workplace
  • Awareness and Communication

“We are implementing many projects in the field of women's employment both in terms of financial support and awareness.”

In his opening speech at the promotion meeting of the Project, the Deputy General Manager of TSKB, Mr. Hasan Hepkaya, stated that equality of opportunity and women's employment were among the topics TSKB is focussed on. He explained the Bank's efforts in this area as follows: “TSKB launched a social development project with our esteemed business partner, the AFD, three years ago in order to take concrete steps in the field of gender equality. We extended investment loans to those companies which took it upon themselves to be women-friendly companies, which we identified with a measurement tool which we created together. We have achieved significant progress in this process in terms of women's employment, policies on equal opportunities and awareness in many of our companies. We are pleased and proud to note that we have brought 1,250 women into active working life in the companies we provide credit for.”

Mr. Hepkaya noted that Koton had taken important measures to support and spread gender equality. “We believe that improving working conditions in sectors which intensively employ women such as the retail sector is as valuable as increasing female employment . The fact that we will include the suppliers operating in different regions of Turkey in this transformation journey is a hugely important step in building a women-friendly economy, for example by advancing our cooperation with Koton, which we have achieved a considerable amount of successful work in the area of women's employment credit, which we started together with the AFD. I believe we will achieve good results in a short space of time with the project.”

The AFD Project Officer, Ceyda Cesur, said : “In terms of women's employment and equality of opportunity, it was the AFD’s greatest desire to involve the supply chain in this project and to develop childcare services. Today, through TSKB, under the leadership of Koton, a global brand, and with the backing of Escarus, we are promoting a project that will serve as a model in Turkey. As we have dreamed of since the start, we are spreading our project with the theme of equality of opportunity and women’s employment, in companies of all sizes from the large corporations to the SMEs, in various regions of our country.”

“We will expand the project with the unity of our power and our hearts”

The Koton Founding Partner and Board Member, Gülden Yılmaz, made also a speech at the opening of the project introductory meeting. She said: “We came together with TSKB, AFD and Escarus in order to improve the working conditions for women employees in our supply chain, to reach a better point in terms of social gender equality and to provide social benefits. Because we are aware that our stakeholders are always the driving force of a strong and sustainable project. In this context, we will strive to start the transformation by unity of our power and our hearts. Our perspective is always to grow and develop together with our stakeholders.”

Stating that the project will be developed with stakeholders in a manner that will make it more efficient and effective, Ms. Yılmaz continued as follows: “Each of us creates an improving effect with the role that we play and the steps that we take in the development of this project. Just like a stone thrown into water, we will expand this movement wave by wave and we have started on strong foundations. We hope that all of this work will be accepted as a solid and comprehensive movement that many institutions besides ourselves will refer to as an example in the future.

The General Manager of the Escarus, Mr. Kubilay Kavak expressed his delight in cooperating with a leading company such as Koton, which carries out valuable work in the field of gender equality. Mr. Kavak explained the details of the project as follows: “Within the scope of the project, we plan to touch the lives of a total of 2,878 employees, of which 1,251 are women. We will examine the various practices of the companies in Koton's supply chain in the context of gender equality. We will develop sets of proposals to strengthen them and then run a program to monitor developments. At the end of the process, we will issue a certificate to the companies participating in the project, depending on their progress. We sincerely believe that all of this work will represent an important milestone in efforts to increase the role of women in working life.