The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) joined hands with Thailand’s Federation of Business Professional Women (FBPW) to organize a two-day online workshop, the first of the “Women Leadership in Business Integrity” initiative.  The workshop took place on 22nd and 24th June, providing practical tools to a selected group of FBPW members to promote good governance and business integrity in their companies. The aim is to pave the way for the creation of a network of women business leaders capable of promoting a business model with integrity at its centre within their companies, markets and the broader society as a whole; lastly to improve the overall economy and be a vital mechanism to help society grows towards SDGs.

This initiative is part of the project “Promoting a Fair Business Environment in ASEAN” (FairBiz) launched in 2018 by UNDP Bangkok Regional Hub, with support from the UK Government’s ASEAN Economic Reform Programme. This first workshop is aimed at promoting women leadership in promoting business integrity. In the private sector, research indicates that female-owned businesses pay less in bribes, and corruption is seen as less of an obstacle in companies where women are represented in top management.  Empowered women who have opportunities to participate in decision-making processes can actively contribute to promoting transparency and integrity, which are key elements in the fight against corruption.

Over 30 women business leaders, all members of FBPW, coming from eight different provinces and working in several sectors, from manufacturing to jewellery and healthcare, actively attended the two-day online interactive workshop.

Dr Soipetch Resanond, Vice President FBPW & member of the FairBiz Private Sector Advisory Group, welcomed participants at the Opening Ceremony while, President of the FBPW, Khunying Natthika Wattanavekin Angubolkul, emphasized FBPW strong commitment to raising standards of business in Thailand, where women-led SMEs suffer from all sorts of unfair play, despite being the driver of the economy. Ms Lovita Ramguttee, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative to Thailand, thanked FBPW for partnering with UNDP, through the FairBiz project, to help companies to act as a driving force to change the way business is conducted in Thailand to accelerate progress towards the SDGs. Khun Suwana Suwanjuta, Commissioner of the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC), also participated in the opening, congratulating participants for such an initiative. NACC has a key role in promoting Anti-Corruption and Business Integrity, however many challenges need to be addressed not in isolation, but through collective actions, based on an innovative “activist” approach by business, of which this workshop was an example. The programme featured an inspirational key-note speech by Khunying Tipawadee Meksawan, Member of the National Public Sector Reform Committee, Former Permanent Secretary, MODES, Former Secretary-General, Civil Service Commission and a masterclass with Khun Thitinan Wattanavekin, Director, Kiatnakin Phatra Bank Plc. and VP FPBW, Khun Natanai Anantarumporn, CEO, Interlink Telecommunications, Plc. and Dr Thawilwadee Bureekul, Director of Research and Development, King Prachatipok Institute (KPI).

During the group discussions, keynote speakers raised awareness on the theme of compliance, sustainable business practices, anti-corruption, providing resources and practical tools to promote good governance.

A remarkable note from the audience came from Khun Chularat Israngkool Na Ayutthaya, First Vice President responsible for collaboration between International Federation of Business and Professional Women (IFBPW) and United Nations, expressing great appreciation for the very informative sessions and emotional support provided by the speakers. IFBPW Vice President is confidently looking at this initiative making the way for a broader cross-sector and cross-country collaboration in the pursuit of SDG 17.

 Mrs Alexandra McKenzie, Deputy Head of Mission, British Embassy Bangkok, concluded the workshop, highlighting this event bridged two important priorities of UK policy - tackling corruption and promoting gender equality and women's empowerment. She noted gender diversity led to greater productivity, business integrity, and a more resilient workforce. The UK hoped that its support could create a more equal and inclusive economic recovery for Thailand, and in time will do the same for other countries in ASEAN.

Finally, Vice President and Chairwoman of Young FBPW, Khun Jatuporn Limpiyasrisakul thanked all the participants and remarked on entrepreneurs’ important role in making change happen, driving a new pattern of behaviours and create a truly Fair Business Environment in Thailand.

This pilot incorporated an innovative impact assessment methodology to measure the training effectiveness and the transfer of knowledge into action. Trainees left the workshop with a “Take Home Project” and they will get together again in three months to take part in the “Action Day”, sharing their experiences and learning from each other about their solutions to address integrity challenges in practice. This initiative is the first step to create a network of women leaders in business integrity for peer-to-peer knowledge sharing and mutual support. It is also through initiatives like this one that the business sector concretely can take steps towards the sustainable development goals.

About FBPW

Established in 1973, the Federation of Business and Professional Women of Thailand (BPW Thailand) became an associate member of the Business and Professional Women’s Association International or the International Federation of Business and Professional Women (BPW International) in 1976. Queen Sirikit accepted the Federation of BPW Thailand under her patronage in 1981 and it was later named the Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Association of Thailand under the Royal Patronage of Her Majesty the Queen, also known as “BPW Thailand”. Since the beginning, BPW Thailand has continuously carried on its activities and objectives with the following mission statement: BPW develops the professional, business and leadership potential of women on all levels through advocacy, mentoring, networking, skill-building and economic empowerment programs and projects around the world.

More information about BPW Thailand can be found at http://www.bpwthailand.org/

Mrs. Alexandra McKenzie, Deputy Head of Mission, British Embassy Bangkok
Khunying Natthika Wattanavekin Angubolkul, President of the FBPW

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