Fortude, a global digital technology solutions company, recently completed a successful partnership with the International Finance Corporation (IFC). The company participated in the ‘Together We Can (TWC)’ and ‘Together We Can Plus (TWC+)’ initiatives, to drive workplace gender equality and foster an inclusive corporate culture Out of more than 50 entities that took part, Fortude was one of just five companies that participated in both the TWC and TWC+ initiatives. The Together We Can (TWC) Peer Learning Partnership was a two-year initiative to improve business outcomes by advancing workplace gender equality. TWC took place in the midst of COVID-19 and during Sri Lanka’s worst-ever economic crisis, where the partnership focused on supporting companies to maintain business continuity during times of adversity. Along with other companies representing multiple sectors, Fortude participated in online training sessions led by IFC and coordinated by the Federation Chamber of Commerce Sri Lanka (FCCISL) under the Women in Work partnership between IFC and the Government of Australia. As part of this initiative, Fortude was featured as an organisation at the forefront of gender inclusivity in the workplace, actively supporting working parents to stay employed and achieve better work-life integration. Some of the critical actions implemented include introducing flexible working hours and locations, and versatile work arrangements for pregnant or nursing mothers and parents to meet childcare needs. Fortude has also introduced enhanced paternity leave support for new fathers, making significant progress in a country where paternity leave is not government-mandated. Commenting on the partnership, Arjuna Sirinanda, Managing Director at Fortude, stated, “Organisations have the fundamental responsibility of ensuring that a climate of respect and inclusion is built and maintained. Here at Fortude, when we speak of growth, it is in the context of growth for all our colleagues. Our commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is not just an initiative, but a priority strategy, with the tone set by our leadership. Our partnership with the International Finance Corporation on the Together We Can and Together We Can+ journeys has provided us with invaluable data-driven insights, helping us to uphold our promise of building diversity and inclusion in the workplace. While the future might bring uncertainty, we feel that fostering an inclusive workplace will help us weather the effects on our most valuable resource – our people.” Going above and beyond, Fortude participated in the ‘Together We Can Plus (TWC+)’ partnership to advance opportunities for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) persons. The partnership provided a platform for companies to learn, share knowledge, and pledge to further enhance inclusivity for persons with disabilities and LGBTI persons. “IFC believes in workplaces where everyone is valued and where differences are respected. Integrating diversity into our daily work means creating a culture that recognizes and affords opportunities to all. As one of the 50 Sri Lankan companies who were part of IFC’s Together We Can and Together We Can+ initiatives, Fortude shares our mission in advancing workplace gender equality, and diversity and inclusion. Fortude’s commitment and achievements in the ‘Together We Can’ initiatives are a testament to their leadership and dedication to creating an inclusive corporate culture. We believe that diversity drives innovation and business success, and we are excited to see how this partnership will create a future that is both inclusive and sustainable, making lasting impacts,” said Alejandro Alvarez de la Campa, IFC Country Manager for Sri Lanka and Maldives. Aligning with the TWC+ commitments, the company established the ‘Senior Leadership Commitment’, demonstrating its dedication to fostering a culture where all employees, regardless of identity, feel a sense of belonging. This saw the introduction of an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) statement, which is now prominently displayed on all job advertisements, reiterating its commitment to providing an inclusive workplace for all. Fortude conducted a gap analysis, to understand the needs and perceptions relating to LGBTI employees and to map out the steps required to enhance inclusivity for the LGBTI community. They also conducted in-person sensitization programs in collaboration with The Grassrooted Trust, ensuring that all employees have access to valuable diversity and inclusion training which has now also been included as part of their induction programme on their learning management system. The results of TWC-driven initiatives have been reflected in Fortude’s recruitment pipeline. The company saw an increase in the number of applicants in its 2023 Graduate Trainee batches, with an increase in female applicants, showing the impact in relation to gender. Fortude’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) strategy encompasses various initiatives and plans, including gender-neutral language, family-friendly policies, leadership commitment, and a strong focus on awareness-building and sensitization. The company has also expanded its efforts into the LGBTIQ+ space and is actively looking to further its commitment to persons with disabilities (PWD) and cultural diversity. From left: Fortude Assistant Manager – Global Talent Development & Culture Jezla Mohamed Latiff, Fortude Associate Vice President – Global Talent Development Kavitha Gunasekera, and Fortude Senior Manager – Global Talent Development & Culture Anjalie Jasenthuliyana at the IFC Together We Can closure event Image Caption – Fortude Associate Vice President – Global Talent Development Kavitha Gunasekera (centre) responding to a question during a panel discussion held at the IFC Together We Can Peer Learning Partnership closure event in Colombo

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