Thursday 30th July 2020
Alliance: How did your interest in developing initiatives towards the segment of women arise? When did you start developing initiatives for this segment?
ZL: In 2015, we updated our Sustainability strategy, which included an analysis of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a global development path proposed by the UN. We studied the 17 SDGs and investigated the practices of the world’s leading banks. Based on this, we identified 6 SDGs to which we could contribute, including 5 on Gender Equality. In 2016, thanks to an alliance with FMO and the IDB, we launched our first initiative for this segment: Mujer Acelera, our strengthening program for SME entrepreneurs.
Alliance: BAC Credomatic’s strategic priority for this segment can be reflected in the work being carried out in each country. How has working together with all the offices in each country helped shift the paradigm regarding women and financial services?
ZL: From the Regional Sustainability Management we coordinate all initiatives jointly with each country and between them. Women-related issues have involved a great learning process and especially a sharing of experiences.
Building awareness in our sustainability teams in each country, as well as training and coordination with business partners, has been and is essential to start shifting the paradigm.
One of the key points is starting first with a single country or a couple of countries, allowing us to learn in practice, take lessons learned and quickly take steps for those experiences in other countries as they are added. It is not always possible or convenient to start with all six countries at the same time.
Alliance: Can you tell us about the efforts made by each country? What are their similarities? What are the differences amongst them?
ZL: The common factor in all cases has to do with the clarity that countries have regarding the importance of approaching the segment in a comprehensive way; particularly in making a permanent effort to strengthen the women who are part of the programs through training processes. Another common element is that all countries have moved forward in programs aimed at women entrepreneurs, this is the program called Mujer Acelera (Accelerating Women). Regarding differences, perhaps the most recent one is that some countries have continued their work seeking to deepen this segment, while others have begun to deploy a strategy that encompasses smaller segments – such as the case of Guatemala, which has designed a recent strategy directed towards three segments: young professional women, mothers, and businesswomen. At the internal public level, Costa Rica and our regional office have made progress in policies and diagnostic exercises to establish work plans on gender equality, inclusion, and diversity.
Alliance: How has the COVID crisis affected your work to support women, both regionally and in each country? Do you think these changes will continue in the long term?
ZL: At an operational level, we have had to pause some activities, of course migrating all face-to-face processes to virtual mode, and, ultimately, the situation has forced us to attend to urgent issues, both internally and with our clients. However, we continue with the work plans and we hope to resume a good number of the activities this second semester.
It is certain there are changes; however, from the Regional Sustainability Management we are insisting that now more than ever, we must continue working on our programs and projects for women. We see the partnership of the Alliance on this path with great enthusiasm.
Alliance: What kind of sex-disaggregated information do you use for your customers and employees? How has this information helped you develop your strategy?
ZL: We have carried out a coordinated effort with the business, technology and business intelligence areas, to segment our credit portfolio information, value in deposits and balances viewed by gender, in order to identify gaps and opportunities that enable us to focus our efforts on the real needs of this segment and how this translates into business opportunities for the bank.
So far, this breakdown of information is helping us to build the business case and have more clarity to set realistic but challenging goals for the women segment.
Internally, at BAC Latam we are also working with the HR area in order to promote initiatives such as the High Potential Program, through which female collaborators have been identified not only with outstanding performance, but also with great potential for professional growth, and are included in a mentoring process that seeks to take them to the next level.
Alliance: BAC Credomatic is also doing important work on Sustainability. What are the key strategic pillars of your Sustainability strategy and how does the gender issue fit in these areas?
ZL: We can summarize our vision of sustainability in three fundamental aspects: mitigate our impacts, respond to the expectations of our stakeholders and promote more sustainable and caring development in the region. Regarding Sustainability, we have taken on, as our first responsibility, to contribute to the achievement of BAC Credomatic’s business objectives, generating maximum well-being and minimum damage to our stakeholders.
Our work is based on the three dimensions of sustainable development, within which we develop programs and projects that are aligned on the one hand, with the bank’s strategic objectives (the 5Cs), and at the same time contributing to the 6 Sustainable Development Goals with those of us who aspire to contribute to addressing global challenges, in accordance with our strategic objectives and in pursuit of our own future success.
The gender issue fits from multiple perspectives in our vision of sustainability, in which we have set ourselves objectives such as offering appropriate and high-quality financial products and services to populations whose access to the traditional banking system is limited or non-existent, to facilitate their participation in the economic cycle and improve their quality of life. We recognize the important role of women in the SME sector in our region and therefore we know that by providing them with the means to grow, we contribute to promoting employment and inclusive economic progress by strengthening these small and medium-sized companies, providing them products and services that enable them to adopt sustainable practices, successfully link to the market and grow.
Alliance: What kind of internal diversity policies and practices has BAC Credomatic implemented? Why is it important to your work to support clients?
ZL: We have started with policies and guidelines for the prevention of sexual harassment and assault, for which we have created a Committee responsible for handling complaints. We are in the process of training leaders and very soon we will launch an internal communication campaign.
In order to promote inclusion and diversity, we have been modifying some policies, such as maternity leave. At BAC Latam, our area of regional services, this effort extends beyond what is required by law, offering the possibility of a gradual incorporation of the mother back to the office, with a teleworking option that extends until her baby turns one. Our expectation is to replicate this model in the countries, as well as the extension of paternity leave.
We are currently working on modifying a series of benefits for our LGBTI collaborators, such as days off due to marriage, birth or adoption of children, among others.
Alliance: How has your participation in the Alliance contributed to your work in support of women? What have been your favorite initiatives and activities so far?
ZL: Our team has participated in several All Stars Academies, including the first one held in La Haya, the Netherlands, and the most recent in Quito, in which we learned and shared many experiences and best practices.
We also highly value the recent “Ask the Expert” Good Practice webinars that include experiences from financial institutions around the world.
USD value of deposits*:
USD value of women deposits*:
USD value of the loan portfolio*:
USD value of the women loan portfolio*:
# of full service branches: 380
# of total customers: 3.8 million
% of female clients: 42%
Total # of staff: 21,114
% of female staff: 55%
* (as of December 31st, 2019)