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Letter from Inez: November 2018

Thursday 29th November 2018

Inez MurrayWe had a great turnout for the 2018 GBA Summit hosted by Bank al Etihad at the beautiful Dead Sea in Jordan earlier this month. Our first in the Middle East, we saw a fascinating example of constructive dialogue between regulators and financial services providers on what is being and needs to be done to increase women’s participation in the labor market, as well as to support women’s entrepreneurship. A key priority is to modify the underlying laws that disproportionately disadvantage women. Most important, however, is the recognition that cultural norms can still stall progress, and the private sector can play an enormous role in shifting paradigms. We heard some exemplary cases of the private sector modeling change at this year’s meeting, not least from our host. Having introduced a number of progressive policies, including return-to-work programs for women, Bank al Etihad is considered an employer of choice for women in Jordan.

The theme of the Summit was the future of financial services, delving into incredible case examples from our members of how digitalization is enabling us to reach the unbanked, radically reducing transaction costs for all of us and creating massive opportunities for new business models that can address women’s lifecycle needs. What was equally evident was the need for the human touch – empathetic front-line staff who can solve women’s problems in the life moments that matter most.

Many of these solutions can be implemented most effectively by partnering with others, including actors that would not be traditionally categorized as financial services providers. Examples of partnerships abounded at the Summit, and we were thrilled to announce Women By Design, a first-of-its-kind partnership between GBA and Mastercard to support GBA members to create payment solutions for their women customers. The proposition was built on insights from 41,000 interviews conducted over the past six months, solving for pain points and adding value for women customers. Leveraging Mastercard’s customer insights and bargaining power, and GBA’s Women’s Market research, global network and community, Women By Design will help create personalized payment solutions that help members win with women. In 2019 we will coordinate a practitioner community within the membership that will share solutions developed, track KPIs, establish the business case and catalogue the added value to women and their families.

Based on the enormous demand from members for more support on becoming the employer of choice for women – as manifested through our Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) Working Group in 2018 – we are similarly pleased to announce a partnership with Mercer to support the building out of a D&I practice area for GBA members in 2019. This will include the creation of a second “How-To Guide,” this time on Becoming the Employer of Choice for Women; the establishment of a second D&I Working Group focused on Women In Leadership; the building out of case studies of our members; and the integration of D&I specialists into our Mentoring Program.

We are also pleased to share that our first All-Stars Academy of 2019 will take place in cooperation with the Central Bank of Egypt in March and that our 2019 Summit will take place in Paris, hosted by AXA, in the early summer. The exact dates of these and other 2019 GBA events will be announced in the coming weeks.

Sincere thanks goes out to the host team at the Bank al Etihad, for their incredible hospitality and tireless efforts to make sure the 2018 Summit went off without a hitch. Special thanks also to FMO, IFC and IDRC for their financial support for the Summit, and to McKinsey & Company, which has provided incredible thought leadership support culminating in GBA’s 2019-2021 strategy shared at the Summit.

A heartfelt thank you to all our members, both for helping to make the 2018 Summit so productive and memorable, and for their unwavering commitment to sharing their know-how and best practices to further the cause of full financial inclusion for women. And finally, a big shout out to all the winners of the 2018 Women’s Market Champion Awards. Congratulations and see you next year in Paris!

Inez

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