A Conversation with Four Male CEOs

Toward Gender Equality

Four male CEOs had an honest conversation with Inez about why they support their banks’ Women’s Market programs. RBS recognized an untapped market and an opportunity to grow it when it saw that fewer women were starting businesses than men. BLC’s Women’s Market program has positioned the bank as a gender expert in the country and has been its major point of differentiation in a crowded market. Stanbic saw the business case early on with women customers performing better, and BRAC Bank found an opportunity to build a new bank on a strong model of values. All agreed that a clear business case was necessary to influence other top leaders to build a Women’s Market program. Each made a commitment to bring one male colleague with them to the next GBA Summit.

Key Points

  • In 2014, GBA commissioned McKinsey & Company to interview leaders from banks around the world and found that the majority were unaware of the Women’s Market opportunity or the business case for serving it.
  • RBS saw an opportunity to differentiate itself by serving entrepreneurs and also noted that the segment drove growth. They did not understand why there was such a discrepancy between the number of women starting businesses compared to the number of men, so they looked to support women entrepreneurs further.
  • BLC Bank’s Women’s Market program also differentiates them in the market. Nadim came onboard at the bank when the program was already underway, and he said he did not need much convincing when he saw the numbers: 86 percent increase in deposits by women, a huge increase in customer acquisition for women, lower NPLs and simplified processes that benefited everyone.
  • At Stanbic, they got involved in the Women’s Market when they examined their data and noted the positive trends, including higher savings rates and better risk indicators, so it made business sense to develop a tailored value proposition to target women.
  • Four Male CEOS 2017 GBA Summit 2

  • With a new CEO at the helm two years ago, BRAC Bank reshaped its vision and values, and gender sensitivity was a part of that. The bank started with D&I and found that cultural norms were embedded so strongly that some men were not aware that the way they were behaving with women clients or colleagues was inappropriate. After a concerted campaign internally, the bank built a strong external value proposition that includes interesting incentives to increase uptake in financial products and volumes, and access to networking opportunities and health benefits. The result has been a strong uptick in the female client base, which has demonstrated the market to be commercially viable.
  • BLC Bank directly addressed common stereotypes about women that were prevalent in Lebanese society. Finding the facts and combatting incorrect assumptions has helped begin to break down some of the limitations around women’s position in society.
  • All panelists encouraged leaders to include men in conversations on Women’s Markets and to have an open and honest dialogue, and they pledged to bring at least one male colleague to the next GBA Summit with them.

Four Male CEOS 2017 GBA Summit


CEO, Global Banking Alliance for Women

Managing Director, Business & Private Banking; NatWest & RBS

Deputy Chairman, General Manager; BLC Bank

CEO, Stanbic Bank

Managing Director and CEO, BRAC Bank


We’re building the business case, but we only have 47 banks, and only 90 in the world have anything to do with the Women’s Market. How do we convince more leaders?
— Inez Murray

Rather than telling customers that we lend money, which is fairly obvious, we tell them what we’re doing to support women entrepreneurs.
— Marcelino Castrillo

If you stick with women, they’ll stick with you.
— Nadim Kassar

It made good business sense to look at the Women’s Market from a business point of view – not as CSR.
— Charles Mudiwa

We have a segment for doctors. We have a segment for engineers – even different types of engineers. Why should we not have a segment specializing in 50% of the population? I don’t need empirical evidence that it’s viable; it’s 50% of the population – how can it not be viable?
— Selim RF Hussain