Monday 29th November 2021
Based in South Africa, Nedbank Group is one of the largest financial services groups on the African continent. It serves 7.4 million clients with a suite of wholesale and retail banking services as well as insurance, asset management and wealth management. Outside of South Africa, it operates in Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, Eswatini and Zimbabwe and has a strategic alliance with Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (ETI). The company has more than 27,500 employees.
Alliance: For the benefit of our global readership, can you share the bank’s overall strategic vision?
Lizzy Mogale: Our purpose is to use our financial expertise to do good for all our stakeholders. We strive to ensure that the “do good” is at the center of what we do in helping clients manage their money better. This is what centers and galvanizes our efforts.
Alliance: What led you to make the decision to target the women’s market with a deliberate strategy?
Mogale: If you look at the South African population, more than 50% are women; our customer base has more women than men, too—so for us, it’s a no-brainer. In addition, we know that more women than men have been impacted as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. So, we asked ourselves, what can we do differently to support women? We also wanted to ensure financial inclusion across the board given South Africa’s high Gini Co-efficient. With the understanding that a Rand in the hands of a woman goes far, we know that supporting women is a path towards broader economic equality.
Alliance: We know the strategy is in its early days, but do you intend to segment the women’s market, and why those segments?
Mogale: We are going to be led by where the biggest needs are. We have already started with women entrepreneurs by providing grants to help their businesses stay afloat during the pandemic. Now we’re looking at informal/semi-formal entrepreneurs as well, where women are heavily represented, while identifying where the biggest gaps are and addressing those needs.
Alliance: What kind of impact does your institution wish to have through this program? Have you set objectives?
Mogale: Our ultimate goal is to help women manage their money better. Money well managed leads to a better life. This can mean providing financial education, looking at how we are lending, or providing more grants to women in different circumstances. Think of something like a home loan. Normally, men would take this. But in a country with so many single women, we are focused on ensuring that our criteria are not excluding female-headed households, which are often overlooked.
Alliance: Capturing sex-disaggregated data is critical to understanding and sizing the market and establishing a baseline for the program. Do you capture sex-disaggregated data? How do you use it?
Mogale: For a while we were capturing sex-disaggregated data but not analyzing it. We started to do so when our focus on the female segment became more intentional. Participating in the Alliance data gathering process also helped us to be more deliberate about how we analyze key metrics by gender.
Alliance: Moving to the internal side, what is your internal diversity and inclusion strategy? Do you have initiatives to get more women into leadership positions?
Mogale: We have a ‘women’s forum’ to create more opportunities for women, such as training programs and networking through organizations like the 30% Club. We’ve also made a lot of progress on women in leadership in the past few years; we now have 6 females on our RBB Executive Committee, up from 2 in 2019. This was a deliberate strategy by our CEO, Ciko Thomas. It was also helped by our training and development programs for female staff, which helps women move up the ranks at the bank to be eligible for such roles.
In South Africa, we are also responsible for reporting to the government on racial and gender representation which helps to create strong incentives.
Alliance: Do you see a correlation between having a commitment to diversity and inclusion and getting the buy-in for an external women-centered strategy?
Mogale: It’s a bit soon as we’ve just started with our women-centered strategy. So far, we’ve been guided by the insights and case studies we’ve gotten from the Alliance. We hope to see similar results down the line.
Alliance: How did you first hear about the Financial Alliance for Women, and why did you decide to join?
Mogale: I heard about the Alliance at a UNEP FI event on financial inclusion, where Inez spoke. We were keen to join the Alliance to better understand what other players are doing to better serve women and how we can apply it to strengthen our own approach to this market.