In partnership with Thailand's Federation of Business Professional Women (FBPW), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) conducted the new edition of the "Women Leadership in Business Integrity" initiative. While primarily Bangkok-based entrepreneurs attended the 2021 edition, this year, the project expanded to the sub-national level for a more extensive impact on the country. The online workshop was organized for two days, 29th and 30th March, providing practical tools to a selected group of FBPW members. The aim is to empower women entrepreneurs to strengthen their leadership in promoting business integrity and fair business environment. Lastly, improving the economy and being a vital mechanism to help society grow toward SDGs.
This initiative is part of the project "FairBiz – Promoting a Fair Business Environment in ASEAN", launched in 2018 by UNDP Bangkok Regional Hub, with support from the UK Government's ASEAN Economic Reform Programme.
Corruption is not gender-neutral, it impacts women and men differently. Considering that women often face social, cultural, political and institutional discrimination, they may be disproportionately confronted with corruption. Although women business owners are more likely to receive requests to pay bribes, research indicates that corruption is seen as less of an obstacle in companies where women are represented in top management. Empowered women, who have an opportunity to participate in decision-making, are powerful actors that can contribute to the fight against corruption.
The second edition involved 27 entrepreneurs from two provinces in Thailand, namely Nakhon Phatom and Nakhon Ratchasima, working in several sectors, from manufacturing to hospitality and biotechnology. The training also covered the practicalities of promoting sustainable business practices, enclosing not only the theoretical approach.
Dr Soipetch Resanond, FBPW Vice President & FairBiz Private Sector Advisory Group member, kicked off the event and welcomed participants at the Opening Ceremony. Former FBPW President, Mrs. Chansamorn Wattanavekin, emphasized FBPW's strong commitment to raising business standards in Thailand and encouraged trainees to adopt the integrity and transparency principles in their businesses. Ms. Lovita Ramguttee, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative to Thailand, thanked FBPW for partnering with UNDP to support companies spreading good business practices and growing the ethical foundation of doing business, a fundamental prerequisite to accelerating progress towards the SDGs.
As co-hosts, Mr. Sakchai Pholpanich, President of Nakhon Ratchasima Chamber of Commerce, applauded this first initiative of its kind to be undertaken in his province and underlined how the Chamber has consistently recognized the importance of anti-corruption efforts and its primary mission to promote good governance among members. At the same time, Mr. Wichai Kosomnuk, President of Nakhon Pathom Chamber of Commerce, emphasized how great business leaders, regardless of gender, need to have foresights and incorporate principles of integrity in their operations.
On the first day, the training modules revealed the key concepts of business integrity with moderation from Mr. Brook Horowitz, FairBiz Business Integrity Advisor. Mrs. Chansamorn Wattanavekin provided an inspirational speech stimulating the participants to become role models in their communities and move their businesses towards sustainability.
"The Women Leadership in Business Integrity Initiative encourages women to be the catalysts of change. Their perspectives and visions are crucial for inclusive and equitable development. Women entrepreneurs, be the change!"
Khun Chansamorn Wattanavekin, Former President FBPW Thailand
In group discussions, the participants were asked how women could drive behavioral change in the business community. Before wrapping up the day, Mr. Voravate Chonlasin and Ms. Narumon Wangnai, the business integrity trainer and facilitator, encouraged them to share experiences when confronted with integrity risks and how to create a culture of integrity when facing ethical dilemmas.
On the second day, the training was led by Dr Tanatat Puttasuwan, Adjunct Professor at the Asian Institute of Technology. Dr Thawilwadee Bureekul, King Prachatipok Institute (KPI) Director of Research and Development, moderated the masterclass with former participants. During this peer-to-peer learning session, Ms. Purita Kananitkitpaiboon, from the Thai-Kha-Noung Buddhism Accessory Shop, explained how the training helped her start bringing a new perspective of transparency and inclusion, which was lacking in her family business. Ms. Waralee Thiemthao, Your Shipping and Consultant Co., affirmed that she began to implement methods to prevent corruption, leading new employees to absorb the company's culture of integrity.
On this final day's closing remarks, Ms. Boonyarat Kittivorawut, Country Director, Economics and Sustainable Development, UK Embassy in Bangkok, offered her heartfelt gratitude to the participants for working hard and being a model for all women and girls and expressed appreciation for their courage to convene and speak up about corruption. Khun Jatuporn Limpiyasrisakul, FBPW Project Chairperson, thanked the FBPW members for openly sharing their experiences and encouraging them to keep leading with integrity in companies and the community.
Finally, Mr. Darko Pavlovic, FairBiz Regional Project Manager, closed the workshop by acknowledging the participant's role as active agents of change for sustainable business and introducing the Action Day in July, which will mentor the trainees further and focus on the evaluation and exchange with the participants.
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. 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/
Ms. Boonyarat Kittivorawut, Country Director, Economics and Sustainable Development
UK Embassy in Bangkok
Dr Soipetch Resanond, FBPW Vice President