Letter from Inez: March 2015

Friday 13th March 2015

GBA Newsletter

This month a number of the events clustered around International Women’s Day emphasized the leadership of the private sector in advancing gender equality, and urged participants to sign on to the UN Global Compact’s Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs).

I am particularly excited about the WEPs as a mechanism for measuring gender-smart policies. More than 900 companies including six GBA members have signed up, thereby committing themselves to integrating gender equality considerations throughout their value chain, from their corporate leadership, to their employees, their customers, their suppliers and to the communities in which they operate.

Maurice Sehnaoui, Chairman and CEO of GBA member BLC Bank Lebanon, spoke at the two-day event at the UN to mark the progress towards widespread adoption of the WEPs, noting several strategies BLC has employed to promote gender equality among employees, from unconscious bias training to setting goals to make 50% of their top leadership women by 2020. To have this goal within sight is a remarkable achievement for the bank, given not only the cultural context in which it operates, but also the disappointing data in the No Ceilings Full Participation Report, released on March 8, which reports for instance, that women make up just 5 percent of CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, up from 0 percent in 1995.

Signing the WEPs makes a commitment to gender equality public, benefitting corporate leaders seeking to drive change. As Tania Moussallem, Assistant General Manager of BLC and GBA Vice Chair notes, it “adds conviction and credibility to our efforts of becoming the employer of choice for women in Lebanon, which in turn is a precursor to our successful execution of a strong value proposition to our women customers.”

Mobilizing more of our banks to sign the WEPs will be on the agenda at our data symposium, taking place on the first day of our GBA Summit, September 29 — October 1 in São Paulo. This symposium will bring bankers, policy makers and other stakeholders together to discuss the main barriers for banks to data collection, and to present possible solutions. The launch of our Data Practitioner Working Group, this month, involving representatives from nine member banks as well as the IFC and IDB, will provide key input for this year’s Summit. The Data Practitioner Working Group will identify challenges and solutions to collection, analysis, and use of sex-disaggregated data, and will share lessons learned to promote best practice. This year’s Summit also includes two days of Best Practice sharing and networking, as well as a deep look into host bank Itau’s strategies for the Women’s Market. We hope you will all join us!

Finally this month I am pleased to welcome our first member in Paraguay, Visión Banco, who are launching their Women’s Market program next month. In this issue we interview Silvia Bracho, Visión Banco’s Business & Marketing Manager to understand her vision for how her bank will add value to women in her country.

I heard during International Women’s Day that it will take 80 years to reach gender equality at today’s pace. But with the right data, I believe GBA can help shave 70 years off that, and get us all there by 2025.


Inez Murray, Chief Executive Officer
Global Banking Alliance for Women