New Member Spotlight: HSBC

Tuesday 28th September 2021

We are delighted to welcome HSBC to the Alliance. HSBC is one of the largest banking and financial services institutions in the world, serving millions of customers through its four Global Businesses. In this interview, Sam Cooper-Gray, Head of Commercialisation and Engagement, Global Business Banking, shares the bank’s strategic initiative for women entrepreneurs, HSBC Roar. 

Alliance: HSBC is one of the world’s leading banks with assets of $3 trillion and operating in 64 countries and territories. For the benefit of our global readership, can you share the bank’s overall strategic vision?

SCG: HSBC’s ambition is to be the preferred international financial partner for our clients, who live and work across borders. We are focused on bringing together the people, ideas and capital that empower our customers to succeed internationally.

Alliance: Just this month, HSBC announced a strategic initiative for women entrepreneurs in three markets — USA, UK and Hong Kong — a program called HSBC Roar. Tell us about the program and your vision for it.

SCG: HSBC Roar: Coach, Connect, Scale aims to overcome the barriers female entrepreneurs face as identified in our 2019 report, “She’s the Business.” The program, which we’ve launched with AllBright, a global community for women in business, is a series of masterclasses with renowned female entrepreneurs and a small group coaching session with an executive coach.

HSBC Roar enables participants to create a network of supportive peers, learn from role models, be connected with leading VC firms proactively investing in women-led businesses, and receive hands-on support from a top-performing relationship manager to help guide their financial strategy.

Alliance: HSBC Roar is part of a bigger strategy to support female entrepreneurs across 18 countries and territories. What led you to make the decision to target the women’s market with a deliberate strategy?

SCG: The data is very clear: Backing women-led businesses makes strong commercial sense, but too often there are barriers preventing them from scaling their operations. MSCI research shows that businesses with strong female leadership outperform male-only-led firms. HSBC’s own research identified the specific barriers that women face in business. The decision on our direction was very clear; we needed to dismantle the barriers female entrepreneurs face. It is the right thing to do commercially and socially.

Alliance: We know the strategy is in its early days, but do you intend to look at segments beyond WSMEs in the future?
SCG: We operate across many markets, and gender inequality in the marketplace is one aspect that is common to all of them, albeit to different degrees. More broadly, we’re focused on more local initiatives to influence positive change. For example, in many markets, we are focused on ethnic minority inclusion that is specific to their community.

Alliance: Moving to the internal side, HSBC has a deep commitment to diversity and inclusion. Do you see a correlation between this work and getting the buy-in for an external women-centered strategy?

SCG: Absolutely. As an organization, our values are very clear: We value difference, we take responsibility, we get it done. Looking at issue of gender inequality it is very clear to see the role that we have to play and the potential of the positive change we can make. Everyone we’ve spoken to about our strategy to advance women-led businesses has been incredibly supportive and even challenging us to scale up the plans and asking, “How can we do more? How can make a bigger impact?” It’s incredibly encouraging and motivating.

Alliance: How did you first hear about the Financial Alliance for Women, and why did you decide to join?

SCG: Personally, I have followed the work the Alliance has done for a number of years. Having been the global co-chair for HSBC BALANCE, the 50,000-member employee resource group for gender equality, I am a passionate advocate for driving change in both diversity and inclusion. Working in HSBC Business Banking, which focuses on small- and medium-sized businesses around the world, I also believe that there is much more the financial industry can do to understand the challenges women face as entrepreneurs and the opportunities to support the wider global female economy. Working with the Alliance and the other members is a key part of that journey.