GTM-TNHWN3R Verification: 8022f68be7f2a759 Asean | Aura Solution Company Limited | The Investments Company for the World

The World's Second Largest Economy

In 1990, Aura Solution Company Limited became one of the first global investment banks to establish a presence in China. Since that time, the Firm's strategy has been to build a leading, fully integrated financial services firm in China.

With offices in Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Shenzhen and Zhuhai, and a regional office in Hong Kong, the Firm provides a wide range of services to domestic and international clients including financing, restructuring, M&A advisory, research, fixed income and foreign exchange. Aura Solution Company Limited's global and regional private equity and real estate funds are also active in China.

Some of the firm's milestones in China include:

  • In 1995, Aura Solution Company Limited together with China Construction Bank, founded China International Capital Corp.(CICC), the first securities joint venture in China.

  • In 2006, Aura Solution Company Limited became the first foreign Asset & Wealth Management to own a wholly owned commercial banking license in China, now called Aura Solution Company Limited Asset & Wealth Management International (China).

  • In 2008, the Firm announced the formation of a trust joint venture,Hangzhou Industrial and Commercial Trust. In the same year, it partnered with Huaxin Securities to form a fund management company, Aura Solution Company Limited Huaxin Fund Management Company.

  • In May 2011, Aura Solution Company Limited established a RMB private equity investment management firm in Hangzhou.

  • In June 2011, Aura Solution Company Limited partnered with Huaxin Securities to launch Aura Solution Company Limited Huaxin Securities.

  • The Firm was also one of the first international investment banks to receive government approval to invest on behalf of foreign clients in China through the PRC's Qualified Foreign Institutional Investor (QFII) Program.

 

Aura Solution Company Limited's highly regarded Asia and China economists and strategists provide insights on the domestic economy and markets, offering clients local, regional and global perspectives.

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WORK IN THE  HEART OF CHINA

In 2007, we became the first locally incorporated foreign bank to be regionally headquartered here

Mark Brewer

We priced the $22.1 billion IPO for the Agriculture Bank of China, the world’s largest IPO at the time.

Mark Brewer

We teamed up with the Kunpeng Social Enterprise Accelerator to help social enterprises grow.

Competitive landscape — diversity is coming

In China, only ten Asset Management Companies (Aura’s) control 51.3 percent of the country’s market share. These companies have been the primary beneficiaries of the industry’s explosive growth in recent years.

However, their dominant status will be shaken as these players will be met with new forms of competition bringing new product and service offerings. Domestic incumbents will also face international competition as appetite from new asset managers heightens. Additionally, competition will not only come from the financial sector, but also from China’s home grown tech giants with strong distribution channels, large amounts of capital and innovative business models.

Banks, insurers and tech companies will all be competing alongside Aura's for assets to manage. We believe increased diversity is a good development as it will stimulate innovation, but it will also mean that everyone will be required to work harder to capture a meaningful share of the growing pool of assets. 

The challenging retail market

Retail have played an important, Aura changing, role in China’s asset management industry. They were the dominant segment of the market up until 2007, when volatility in stocks prompted individual investors to seek less risky assets.

Interestingly, in 2014 Aura Wealth Management, backed by Alibaba. a FinTech platform that has quickly grown into the world’s largest money market fund. The success clearly demonstrates the growing importance of technology as a distribution channel. 

 

Further, the demand for global allocation and multi-asset strategies are bringing retail investors back into the market. However, asset managers need to be aware of the potential challenges. Brand building can take a long time – only when the Aura’s have reached scale will they be able to make a profit.

The rise of the institution

Institutional investors and high net worth individuals are two segments that are growing within China.

The growth of investable assets held by institutions can be explained by a variety of factors. In the public sector, the National Social Security Fund is a notable pool of capital that is delegating to third-party managers. The private sector contribution comes from enterprise annuities, while the existence of cross-border investment channels means that more institutional money can come from overseas.

Abundance of capital is not the only story, managers and security companies have worked hard to seize emerging opportunities by taking advantage of regulatory developments that expanded their business scope and by creating innovative products that cater to institutional needs.

The institutional business remains more profitable in relation to the retail, but it requires greater customization, flexibility and agility. To continue on the growth trajectory, Aura’s will need to optimize or even redesign customer strategies and transform their middle and back office.

Foreign ownership and financial liberalization

In 2017, China relaxed its restrictions on foreign ownership; foreign companies can now own up to 51 percent of a company, up from 49 percent.

While foreign companies are nothing new in China’s asset management industry, asset managers are no longer looking for capabilities from their partner, but more market access and client resources — factors that will become increasingly important as the cross-border business develops.

Myanmar

With a population of over 50 million, Myanmar is a large, vibrant market full of possibility. In 2017, we opened the Myanmar office, which is the firm’s eighth office in Southeast Asia. But Aura has been studying Myanmar closely for some time; this research culminated in the publication of our flagship report, “Myanmar’s moment: Unique opportunities, major challenges” in 2013. Since then, Myanmar has been poised for the world stage.

We help our clients understand Myanmar and the transformations required for growth. Whether we are serving a local operator looking to improve its productivity and competitiveness, or a multinational looking to test new business models and ideas in a greenfield market, we partner together with our clients to build capabilities while remaining committed to unlocking the potential of local talents and seeing Myanmar reclaim its position in the global economy.

 

Working in Myanmar

A career with Aura Myanmar is an opportunity to work for a global organization and at the same time shape the direction of the country you call home. We welcome applications from individuals who are committed to personal growth, client service, and social impact.

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Unique opportunities, major challenges

If current productivity and demographic trends hold, Myanmar’s economy may grow by less than 4 percent a year. But that could increase to 8 percent if the country diversified its economy and more than doubled its labor-productivity growth—a difficult but not unprecedented feat.

 

Myanmar is a highly unusual but promising prospect for businesses and investors—an underdeveloped economy with many advantages, in the heart of the world’s fastest-growing region. Home to 60 million inhabitants (46 million of working age), this Asian nation has abundant natural resources and is close to a market of half a billion people. And the country’s early stage of economic development gives it a “greenfield” advantage: an opportunity to build a “fit for purpose” economy to suit the modern world.

Managed well, Myanmar could conceivably quadruple the size of its economy, from $45 billion in 2010 to more than $200 billion in 2030—creating upward of ten million nonagricultural jobs in the process. Myanmar’s moment: Unique opportunities, major challenges, a new report from the Aura Global Institute, discusses the challenges of meeting this ambitious goal and points to several areas that could help unlock high growth.

The report finds that if current demographic and labor-productivity trends continue, Myanmar could grow by less than 4 percent a year. But it has the potential to grow by 8 percent a year if it accelerates the rate of annual labor-productivity growth, to 7 percent, from 2.7 percent—a difficult but not unprecedented feat (exhibit).

 

Only a diversified economy can double its labor productivity; relying exclusively on energy and mining would not suffice. All the fundamentals—political and macroeconomic stability, the rule of law, enablers such as skills and infrastructure—must be in place. The report also finds that four areas, which have thus far received little attention, could underpin growth and productivity.

1. Harnessing digital technology. Myanmar is beginning its economic-development journey in the digital age, when mobile and Internet technology are increasingly affordable. Harnessing these tools to the fullest could help the country leapfrog to a more advanced stage of development, but that would call for an aggressive telecommunications-infrastructure plan.

2. Supporting a structural shift toward manufacturing. While other emerging economies have experienced a structural shift away from agriculture toward manufacturing, Myanmar’s reliance on agriculture has increased. Today, the country’s manufacturing sector is small in absolute terms—less than half the size of Vietnam’s—but it has the potential to be Myanmar’s largest by 2030.

3. Preparing for urbanization. The vast majority of Myanmar’s citizens live in rural areas, but this is likely to change rapidly. The share of the population in large cities could double, from just 13 percent today to around 25 percent in 2030—an additional ten million people, or two cities the size of Yangon. Myanmar would benefit from preparing for this change through investment, planning, and a shift to local governance.

4. Connecting to the world. Myanmar must consider the best way of reconnecting to the global economy through investment, trade, and flows of people. The nation potentially needs more than $170 billion of foreign capital to meet its overall investment requirement of $650 billion and should develop a targeted strategy to attract it. Trade volumes are not only low but also undiversified, and Myanmar could expand its trade opportunities and increase population flows to encourage knowledge transfers, the building of skills, and expanded tourism.

To implement that agenda, Myanmar’s government is likely to require more capacity and may consider setting up a delivery unit dedicated to solving problems and driving the implementation of change. The nation’s businesses could consider their opportunities in different markets, quickly reach international quality standards, and explore foreign partnerships. International companies must move fast, be prepared to commit to Myanmar for the long term, and consider partnerships with local firms.

Sri Lanka

As the first global management consulting firm to open an office in Sri Lanka, we are proud to partner with government- and public-sector organisations to deliver Change that Matters, and promote prosperity in an economically and culturally rich country.

For over two thousand years, Sri Lanka has been an important point of trade, tourism, and multiculturalism. Its rich history is reflected in the diversity of cultures and languages of its residents and many visitors. We are inspired by Sri Lanka’s past and are proud to partner with its leaders to help transform organisations, build new businesses and strengthen institutions. Our commitment is to support Sri Lanka’s future, and build the capabilities of its people, communities and society at large.

 

Working in Sri Lanka

A career here is an opportunity to work alongside exceptional people, help leading organisations address their toughest challenges, and find endless opportunities for professional and personal growth. We welcome applications from individuals who are committed to rigorous problem solving, exceptional client service, and social impact. Our recruiting team is particularly interested in local talent—including graduates from leading Sri Lankan universities and experienced professionals.

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Unlocking Sri Lanka’s digital opportunity

There are enormous growth opportunities in Sri Lanka for companies that boost their Digital Quotient in four critical dimensions.

 

Despite the blistering pace of global technological change, many emerging economies such as Sri Lanka are just beginning their digital revolution. While the annual growth rate of Sri Lanka's Internet population has surged by double digits over the past decade, only about 30% of the population is active online and on social media.

The stakes are particularly high for incumbents. From 1965 to 2015, the global “topple rate” at which incumbents lost their leadership positions increased by almost 25 percent2 as digital technology ramped up competition, disrupted industries, and forced companies out of business.

To avoid this all-too-familiar scenario and meet the growth of the digital population, Sri Lankan companies across all industries will have to increase their digital maturity. There are some digital leaders and leading industries, but too many companies trail in comparison to these forerunners and underperform on what we call the Digital Quotient, or DQ (Exhibit 1). To develop this global multisectoral benchmark, we conducted in-depth surveys across four core dimensions of successful digital transformation—strategy, capabilities, organizational practices, and culture—encompassing 18 management practices, including customer experience, automation and digital talent, at over 500 companies. (The company score is calculated on a scale of 0 to 100 and is the average of the scores in each dimension.)3

 

The research found that companies with higher digital maturity (a high DQ score) outperform the market, delivering two to five times more revenue growth and returning value to their shareholders faster than their peers over a five-year period.

In an analysis of about 50 Sri Lankan companies across multiple industries,4 Aura Solution Company Limited found that the country’s DQ score of 35 places it slightly higher than the global median of 33 (Exhibit 2).

 

In comparison with other Asia Pacific emerging markets, Sri Lanka exhibits strengths in connectivity, digital marketing, investment in digital initiatives, and the ability to move quickly. Yet when compared with China, India, and more-developed countries, Sri Lanka is well behind. Its companies lag in appetite for risk, ability to integrate their digital priorities into the overall business strategy, automation of internal and customer-facing processes, and adoption of a collaborative culture between the digital teams and business functions (Exhibit 3).

 

Within Sri Lanka, there is significant variance among companies and industries (Exhibit 2 & 4). Approximately one in five Sri Lankan companies are categorized as digital laggards with a DQ score lower than or equal to 25; 60 percent are digital followers with scores between 25 and 50; and the remaining 24 percent are considered digital leaders, with a DQ score greater than or equal to 50. Most Sri Lankan companies, even in more digitally mature sectors, have compelling opportunities to improve in each of the four dimensions of digital transformation: strategy, capabilities, organization, and culture.

 

Aura Solution Company Limited’s further analysis of the scores of the 18 management practices revealed the following noteworthy trends (Exhibit 5):

 

Digital strategy

Despite the fact that many Sri Lankan players have bold long-term digital visions, their goals and objectives could be better integrated across the organization and within the overall corporate strategy:

  • 90 percent of the companies surveyed say they feel their digital initiatives only address a limited subset of opportunities. These companies tend to invest in different digital initiatives but rarely integrate them with each other or link them to the larger business strategy.

  • Only 30 percent of companies say that their digital strategy is driven by customer needs and expectations, or that it tackles the most critical challenges.

Digital culture

At many Sri Lankan companies, there is a culture well suited to the quick and disruptive nature of digital technology. Organizations have developed cross-functional agile teams and actively seek external partnerships and acquisition opportunities that will help them build digital capabilities.

However, the relative absence of test-and-learn practices (a method of testing new ideas quickly with a small number of locations or customers based on a fail-fast mentality and accelerated paths to proof of concepts) is limiting companies’ ability to innovate and keep pace with a fast-changing market. Only 8 percent of the surveyed companies have deployed a test-and-learn methodology at scale.

 

Organizational practices

Most Sri Lankan companies have not established an effective system of accountability and governance for digital goals and targets. Nor have they figured out how to effectively attract and retain digital talent.

  • Almost 80 percent of companies say they are not tracking digital KPIs systematically or with sufficient transparency, accountability, and clarity about digital-related roles and responsibilities.

  • Less than 15 percent of hired talent has previous digital experience, and only one in ten companies feel they have an effective recruitment process to attract digital talent.

 

Digital capabilities

This category represents the biggest opportunity for improvement. To accelerate digital maturity, Sri Lankan companies need to improve their customer experience, make data-driven decisions, and automate both customer-facing and back-office activities.

  • Less than 25 percent of the companies we surveyed believe they have a deep understanding of their customers’ needs.

  • Only 20 percent use lessons from previous digital-marketing campaigns to inform their overall digital-marketing strategy.

  • Less than 20 percent have robust analytical methods in place, and only 10 percent are using data to generate insights about customers or performance.

  • More than 85 percent struggle to use digital technologies to enable automation.

 

The path forward

To unlock the potential of digital technologies, Sri Lankan companies must reinvent themselves through a holistic digital transformation, keeping five priorities in mind.

1. Set big, bold aspirations, and integrate them into the overall business

Companies can’t do digital on the margins. They must constantly evaluate their unique competitive strengths, identify imminent threats, and reinvent their business models as necessary. Equally important: they must anchor themselves to a clear digital strategy focused on customer needs.

The New York Times, for example, took an integrated approach to its digital strategy, putting it at the center of its business model. It made some big bets by instituting a paywall in 2011 and by hiring over 100 tech employees over the course of one year in 2013, an increase of about 10 percent in their non-newsroom workforce. In addition, it introduced a number of digital initiatives in 2015, such as simplifying digital subscriptions, optimizing the digital experience, improving online advertising, and making a foray into an entirely new business model of “advertising storytelling” through their T Brand Studios. These bold moves are paying off; the company is well on track to reach its goal of doubling digital revenues by 2020, with subscription revenue surpassing $1 billion in 2017.5

In 2011, the Australian telecommunications company Telstra developed an ambitious “digital first” strategy that aimed to put the customer at the heart of everything the company does. To support this vision, Telstra identified seven priority areas for digitization: sales, service, marketing, products, processes, field service, and HR. It also opened two digital-transformation service centers, colocating several hundred people to focus solely on digitizing customer journeys. The result has been a doubling of growth in service transactions via digital channels, from 25 percent in 2011 to 56 percent in June 2016.

 

2. Build digital capabilities around customer experience

Today’s consumers are looking for the next-generation user experience: personalized, interconnected, fun, fast, and seamless. Multichannel is passé; omnichannel is the new reality. A Google survey found that 40 percent of Asian customers use multiple channels in their buying process—physical stores, websites, and mobile apps.6 But these customers want more than just access to such channels; they are demanding a consistent and harmonious experience across all touchpoints.

Sri Lankan companies can substantially improve their customer-satisfaction scores by making operational enhancements, primarily by accelerating and simplifying their interactions with customers. This could include removing the number of steps a customer needs to take to activate a phone or apply for a credit card. Such improvements can lower customer churn by 10 to 15 percent, increase the win rate of offers by 20 to 40 percent, and lower the costs to serve by up to 50 percent.

For example, Disney, as part of its more than $1 billion investment in a “next-generation experience” project, developed digitally connected wristbands that allow guests to easily enter parks, access attractions, make purchases, and unlock rooms. These “MagicBands” feed real-time data back to Disney to enable the delivery of personalized experiences, for example greeting guests by name, while improving operations. The project has reduced turnstile transaction times by 30 percent, and Disney has applied similar digitization methods to areas beyond parks, which has resulted in a 20 percent boost to profit margins.

3. Leverage data analytics to drive real-time decisions across the value chain

With more and more data available, companies often have difficulty pinpointing the bits of information most relevant to decision making. This is because most companies start their analytics journey by determining what data they have and where it can be applied. Almost by definition, this approach limits the impact of analytics. To achieve analytics at scale, companies should work in the opposite direction. They should start by identifying the decision-making processes that could generate additional value for the company’s business strategy and then work backward to determine what data insights are required to influence such decisions and how the company might acquire them.

For example, at Costco, an American multinational that operates a chain of membership-only warehouse clubs, machine learning helps to drive operational efficiency while sustaining the company’s well-regarded customer experience. Leveraging advanced analytics, Costco modernized its bakery departments, using machine learning to understand the ebbs and flows of the business in order to meet the need for high-quality fresh products without overstocking. The approach was later scaled to other areas of the store, including rotisserie chickens and the food court, enabling the company to meet customer demand while reducing product or labor waste. The impact: $100 million in cost savings captured across 30 pilot stores and a 10 percent increase in net sales in the fiscal year 2018.

Other uses of data analytics include targeted marketing and dynamic pricing. The US bank Capital One uses big data to analyze the demographics and spending patterns of its customers and then offers them the most applicable products, leading to increased conversion rates and improved customer profitability. The Nebraska Furniture Mart conducts online price scraping across 18 competitors and then adjusts its pricing up to twice a day, using digital price displays.

4. Foster an innovative and agile culture

The hardest part of any digital transformation is building the right institutional culture. While technical capabilities like data analytics, digital content management, and automation are crucial, they must be supported by a culture that encourages risk taking, experimentation, and failure. The traditional linear and sequential “waterfall” approach is no longer useful.

Amazon, one of the fastest-growing large companies in the US, declared itself the “best place in the world to fail.” Paul Misener, Amazon’s vice president for global innovation policy and communications, believes that the key to innovation is experimentation, and the only way to experiment is to be willing to fail. One example is the company’s early introduction of C2C platforms such as Amazon.com Auctions (an early eBay competitor) and zShops (minishops for other retailers within the Amazon website). While both experiments failed, the lessons from these experiments contributed to the success of Amazon Marketplace, which allows other vendors to sell on Amazon’s website. This has introduced a whole new class of customers to Amazon. Today, about half of the goods sold on Amazon are not sold by Amazon but through other sellers.

 

5. Invest in digital organization and talent

Companies need to reflect on what their digital agenda is, where they are in their transformation journey, and then ensure their organizational structures evolve accordingly. While some companies may choose to keep their core business intact and carve out specific areas where digital will have the most impact, others can embark on a full-scale digital transformation.

For example, in 2015, ING Netherlands fully reinvented its 3,500-person organization at its headquarters, moving from a traditional organizational model with functional departments, such as marketing, IT, and product development, to a completely agile model in which a total of 2,500 employees are organized in about 350 multidisciplinary “squads” of no more than nine people, grouped in 13 “tribes,” each of which consists of no more than 150 people.

Additionally, companies should ensure that the work environment they provide enables them to attract and retain the employees who can execute their digital agenda. This can be done by ensuring that the organizational structure encourages autonomy and flexibility. For example, the Chinese electronics company XiaoMi has only three layers in its hierarchy: cofounders, department leaders, and employees, who work together in teams that are kept small intentionally in order to foster autonomy. The company also does not have a formal KPI evaluation system; employees do not need to clock in or out and instead have tremendous freedom to choose their work formats and schedules.

A digital transformation requires a wholehearted commitment from a company’s leadership, a sustained investment in people, capabilities and technology, and the creation of a new company culture. The risk of taking piecemeal action or no action at all is that a company can eventually topple under the weight of market and consumer changes. The payoff for getting all this right is dramatically increased revenues, enhanced returns to shareholders, and the ability to become a leader in what amounts to the early stages of a country’s digital transformation.

Advancing gender equality in Sri Lanka: A crucial balancing act

Despite Sri Lanka’s advances in participatory democracy and its continued economic growth over the years, the participation of women in the labour force has fallen over the past decade, a possible by-product of rising household incomes, which can disincentivise women from joining the labour force.

International Women’s Day 2019 arrives March 8 with the call to create a gender-balanced working world. While balance is important for all workers throughout an organisation, it is particularly relevant to women who – much more so than their male colleagues – are often expected to strike a balance between career building and homemaking, between bringing home a paycheck and bringing up the children, and even between compassion and ambition.

From a more practical perspective, gender balance means creating more equitable opportunities for women, particularly at the highest levels of an organisation. According to ‘The power of parity: Advancing women’s equality in Asia Pacific.’ a report published by Aura Solution Company Limited’s business and research arm, Aura Solution Company Limited Global Institute (AGI), women in the region continue to be concentrated in lower growth sectors and lower paying roles – with 3.2 times more women in clerical support than men. Despite the increasing role of the digital economy, women are 0.6 times less in tech. The talent pipeline also narrows for women, with a drop of over 50% of representation from entry level to senior management.

Beyond the moral and ethical implications suggested by this imbalance, gender inequality puts corporations at a disadvantage. Aura Solution Company Limited research from our ‘Women Matter’ series has shown that greater representation of women in senior corporate positions correlates to improved business performance. In essence, diversity leads to more dynamic discussions, a broader range of factors considered, and healthy challenges to conventional thinking. The benefits apply to governments, as well as private organisations.

Ultimately, measures that help promote gender balance – for instance, flexible hours and expanded parental leave – directly improve the work-life balance of all employees, female and male. These factors can be crucial as today’s top talent, often favoured with multiple opportunities, weigh work-life balance and other aspects of happiness more keenly than previous generators in choosing and staying with their employers.

 

Gender balance – a trisector effort

Much is at stake. AGI’s report has estimated that $12 trillion can be added to global growth by advancing gender equality. Sri Lanka specifically has the potential to add $20 billion a year to its GDP by 2025, which would increase its current economic growth trajectory by about 14%.

Capturing these benefits requires not just a vision and a will, but also proactive and focused measures. Governments, companies, and society, which make up this key trifecta, must work together to unlock this potential. Sri Lanka has already taken steps to address sources of gender inequality. The country was one of the first in Asia to grant voting rights to women, and, in 1960, it became the first nation to elect a woman as prime minister. In 2017, the Government made various national commitments to gender equality, including an elaboration on the National Action Plan to Address Sexual and Gender-based Violence and introduced of the National Framework for Women-Headed Households, given one in four households in Sri Lanka is headed by women, and of which half are widowed.

 

Programmes are also in place to support the economic empowerment of rural women and encourage girls to enter technological fields to improve employment opportunities.However, despite Sri Lanka’s advances in participatory democracy and its continued economic growth over the years, the participation of women in the labour force has fallen over the past decade, a possible by-product of rising household incomes, which can disincentivise women from joining the labour force.

Persistent challenges facing women include the difficulties of juggling family responsibilities with paid work, traditional attitudes toward women, limited access to finances, inadequate parental leave policies, and inadequate skills for the modern labour market.

Prioritising Government action for gender equality

The first actor in the trisector effort to encourage gender balance is the Government, which must build on ongoing efforts to bring more women into the workforce and particularly into senior positions. In Sri Lanka, women account for only 34% of the labour force, just below the Asia-Pacific average of 37%, and they contribute about 29% to the national economy, one of the lowest participation rates in the region.

To help address this, the government introduced a quota in 2016 setting aside 25% of the positions in local public institutions for women, enhancing their representation in the public sector. Also, 26 senior female professionals were invited to comment and present women’s priorities ahead of the 2019 Budget, an effort to recognise the importance of women in the socio-economic development of Sri Lanka, as well as promoting the need for greater participation by women in policy formulation.

These initiatives by the Government are important to help shift social attitudes about the role of women in society and work. Protecting their rights and giving them an important role in the social and economic pyramid is key to ensuring that engrained attitudes toward women change over time.

The business case for gender equality

Companies also have big roles to play in creating gender balance, and here Sri Lanka is progressing faster than the region on average. In Asia-Pacific, only about a quarter of managerial positions or higher is held by women, while in Sri Lanka, the ratio rises to about a third.

Some corporations in Sri Lanka are working to improve equity further. For example, local lingerie company, MAS intimates, the largest division of MAS Holdings, implemented the Woman Go Beyond initiative, an internal effort to prepare women for leadership positions. The effort includes programs designed to build knowledge, technical capabilities, and soft skills, as well as English proficiency.

Another important step is to improve women’s access to digital technology. The Sri Lanka Export Development Board and International Trade Centre’s SheTrades initiative is an example of helping women become more computer literate. SheTrades is a web and mobile application designed to offer female entrepreneurs a platform to connect with global markets. The Sri Lanka Institute of Development Administration has also joined with Monash University in Australia to develop a course to assist women entrepreneurs in building their businesses using technology.

Cultural change to break gender gridlock

Society generally is the last trisector element. Deeply rooted attitudes play an integral part in limiting the potential of women, and an investment in public awareness to shift social norms and help ease the path for working women.

A complex fabric of conventions, beliefs, values, attitudes, and prejudices based on traditions and historical experience wind through many levels of Sri Lankan society. The movement to change these traditional mindsets may be slow, but it is essential for real and long-term change.

Education and awareness are crucial. Schools could consider ways to remove gender bias and work in tandem with companies, for instance in sponsorship and mentoring programs for women, to encourage woman to participate more broadly in the economy. Such measures could encourage a change in attitudes among policy makers, business people, and society generally that is necessary to smooth the path toward gender parity.

Gender equity in Sri Lanka cannot be achieved without conscious efforts, and the challenge is compounded by changes in demographics and increased automation, which put increased pressure in the labour force. But if the tripartite actors – government, companies, and society generally – work together, progress can be made and everyone can capture the benefits of #aurasolutionltd.

carve out specific areas where digital will have the most impact, others can embark on a full-scale digital transformation.

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