The Business Case for Focusing on the Women’s Market

Making the Case

There is strong evidence of the link between Corporate Sustainability and a company taking a strategic approach to women. This panel explored the key levers that need to be pulled to encourage widespread adoption of a gender lens in business.

Key Points

  • There is a disconnect between what bank leaders in Latin America are saying and what women are reporting: Just 14 percent of bank leaders surveyed believe that women are underserved, while 70 percent of women feel they have a financing gap.
  • Likewise, we have the knowledge that serving the Women’s Market makes business sense, and still there is a gap. That is why leadership and role modeling is important.
  • Some challenges lie in leadership rotation and the short-term thinking often found at senior levels of banks.
  • A WMP must be fully embedded, and its profitability must be widely understood, otherwise it faces risks during downturns.
  • Gender lens investing has the potential to catalyze greater gender balance within the leadership teams of banks.
  • The SRI space is fast growing, and women investors, in particular, care about “values.” They will drive for more diversity in the companies that they invest in.
  • It is important to work on internal Diversity & Inclusion while developing a value proposition for the Women’s Market. This is critical for buy-in.
  • While both are mutually reinforcing, the conclusion of the panel was not to wait for Diversity & Inclusion before exploring the Women’s Market.
  • The business case for serving the Women’s Market is strong:
    • 091814_GBA_Summit_Day_1_0395_FLarge untapped market
    • Great customer base – more loyal
    • Opportunity for first-mover advantage
    • Increases corporate resilience
    • Traditional niches for banks are over-contested (e.g. Corporate Banking and High Net Worth in Sub-Saharan Africa). It is time they saw the massive opportunity in the retail market and SMEs, of which women own the majority.
  • Development Finance Institutions have an important role to play – in helping close the gap in segments where the perception of risk is different to the reality of risk. The Women’s Market is an example of this.
  • Development Finance Institutions can provide not just finance and technical assistance to support banks’ implementation of WMPs, but also role model by placing women as their representatives on the boards of investee banks.

 

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PANELISTS

JULIE T. KATZMAN
Moderator
Executive Vice President, Inter-American Development Bank

LARKE RIEMER
Director, Women’s Markets, Westpac

CHRIS SULLIVAN
Chair, Global Banking
Alliance for Women;
Deputy Chief Executive, Royal Bank of Scotland Group

JAMES SCRIVEN
Global Head, Financial Institutions Group, International Finance Corporation

SUE MEIRS
Chief Operating Officer, Equity and Funds Structured Market Sales, Barclays