WFID Partners Convene First Gender Data Roundtable

Wednesday 10th April 2019

To catalyze understanding of the opportunity of financially serving women, the Women’s Financial Inclusion Data (WFID) partnership – of which the GBA is a member – joined forces with BNY Mellon to convene the Data Driving Action for Women dialogue series. This 2019 series of roundtable discussions showcases how financial services providers can use gender data to target and expand the Women’s Market – a potential $450 billion opportunity. The first session in the roundtable series took place on March 14 and focused on the importance of data to establish the business case for serving women. Twenty-five financial services leaders participated in the event.

The even took place under the closed-door policy of Chatham House rules, with the discussion surfacing candid achievements and challenges in collecting and using gender data to target the Women’s Market. Leaders from three diverse banks showcased their banks’ experiences in identifying the market opportunity for their Women’s Market programs, establishing the business case and measuring their performance. A Lebanese bank shared that market-based gender data was sufficient to demonstrate the opportunity and establish buy-in but that sex-disaggregated customer and portfolio data was key in making a quantitative business case to senior management as well as ensuring an ongoing budget for the program. A leading UK bank shared the importance of sex-disaggregated customer and portfolio data to maintaining internal alignment around its women in business strategy and continuing to meet the needs of women’s SMEs even over a decade after the program was established. A US-based bank discussed how industry data showing significant increases in women applying for loans supported the establishment of their initiative for women-owned businesses almost 20 years ago.

Although there is a significant amount of data in the financial sector, participants discussed the relative dearth of gender data in the sector. Conversations then focused around some of the challenges in collecting and using gender data to target the Women’s Market. Participants aligned on some of the operational challenges related to collecting and using customer information by sex. They also discussed some of the regulatory considerations – in the US market, for instance, many banks do not disaggregate their portfolio data due to their interpretation of Regulation B and the risk of this being perceived as discriminatory.  However, participants discussed leveraging demand-side research to establish the opportunity and launch initiatives, even in cases in which banks do not have sex-disaggregated portfolio data. A leader from a US-based bank shared how Dun & Bradstreet data and insights from client surveys allowed the bank to understand women’s use of financial services and to build the case to launch a strategy oriented toward women small business owners.

The first Data Driving Action for Women roundtable series demonstrated the importance of both demand- and supply-side data to close the persistent gender gap in women’s financial inclusion. Subsequent roundtable events will do deeper dives on specific challenges related to gender data collection, use and dissemination, as well as mechanisms and strategies to catalyze the collection and use of gender data. The roundtables will disseminate best practices and encourage dialogue and knowledge transfer.