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Private sector in Sri Lanka gains significant business benefits when providing childcare support: IF

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From left: Fairway Holdings Group CEO Imal Fonseka; Brandix Lanka - Holding Company General Manager (Group Capability) Nilangani De Silva; F. J. & G. de Saram Precedent Partner Ayomi Aluwihare; Hemas Holdings Executive Director/CEO Steven Enderby; MAS Active Trading Ltd. (MAS Kreeda) Chief Executive Officer Sarinda Unamboowe; London Stock Exchange Group Sri Lanka Chief Financial Officer Fadhil Jiffry; IFC Sri Lanka Women in Work Program Manager Carmen Niethammer; Selyn Business Development Director Selyna Peiris; UNICEF Sri Lanka Deputy Representative Paula Bulancea; Standard Chartered CEO-designate Bingumal Thewarathanthri; Australian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka and the Maldives Bryce Hutchesson; IFC Country Officer for Sri Lanka and Maldives Victor Antonypillai; UNICEF Sri Lanka Representative Tim Sutton; IFC Sri Lanka Women in Work Employment Lead Aarthy Arunasalam 

Businesses in Sri Lanka that offer childcare support to their employees can gain a significant positive impact on recruitment, retention and productivity of workers, especially women, according to a new report released by the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, in collaboration with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

‘Tackling Childcare: The Business Case of Employer-supported Childcare in Sri Lanka’ is IFC’s first country-specific report, which provides business case evidence and practical guidance on implementing childcare practices. The report features onsite and offsite childcare approaches of 10 of Sri Lanka’s leading employers in key sectors such as banking, garments and apparel, information technology, law, and large multinationals with diversified businesses. Brandix Lanka, Fairway Holdings Ltd., F. J. & G. de Saram, Hemas Holdings PLC, LSEG Technology, MAS Holdings, Selyn, Standard Chartered PLC, Unilever Sri Lanka Ltd. and WSO2 are the companies featured in the report.

Despite improved educational and health outcomes, only 36% of Sri Lankan women participate in paid work. A 2017 World Bank report indicates that having a child under age of five reduces women’s labour force participation. Closing the workforce gender gap can help the country raise its long-term gross domestic product by up to 20%.

“Reliable, affordable, and quality childcare solutions will be important for making progress on women’s employment. When companies support their employees in meeting their childcare needs, they can hire and retain talent and boost profits and productivity,” said IFC Country Manager for Sri Lanka and Maldives Amena Arif. “This report is a call to action for public and private sector partners to promote childcare solutions, because it is good for business, and good for the country’s growth.”

A recent education sector survey revealed that only half of three-to five-year old children in the country are enrolled in a preschool. Children who have access to early childhood education and care, especially in the first 5 years, are more likely to perform well in school and be healthier and more productive adults. 

“The companies included in this report are a powerful example to the wider private sector. By ensuring that employees can balance both work and family life, business can harness real benefits today, and contribute to building a generation ready to seize the opportunities of the future,” said UNICEF Representative Tim Sutton. “Children are our greatest resource and the provision of family friendly services is both a smart business investment and a critical socially responsible action” 

Tackling Childcare is part of IFC’s broader effort to address gender gaps in employment and identify how the public and private sectors can better collaborate to increase women’s workforce participation. IFC’s work in this area is supported by the Australian government under an IFC-DFAT Women in Work partnership.

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