Embedding a Women’s Market Program in the Bank

Organizational Buy-In

This session discussed the main obstacles that Women’s Market programs can experience as a result of a lack of organizational buy-in. Panelists discussed some of the key challenges, including a lack of staff buy-in, lack of participation by senior management, or a change in CEO. The cases of three banks were presented, where managers discussed some of the potential solutions, such as a focus on data and targets, and the implementation of gender sensitization trainings.

Key Points

Embedding Women Program 2016 GBA Summit

    • There are a number of obstacles that can make embedding a program a particular challenge, including: a lack of clear targets, focusing on social responsibility only and not a business approach, being a “CEO pet project,” which can be impacted once the CEO is no longer at the bank, having a negative internal view of the types of customers being targeted (i.e. informal or micro businesses), getting siloed as an SME project only, and an emphasis on marketing fluff.
    • BLC Bank discussed some of the key areas they focused on to ensure that the program was embedded throughout the bank. This included ensuring management support and commitment from senior management, as well as the use of hard targets in setting clear and achievable goals, as well as a focus on the business case.
    • The bank also prioritized internal training for the program, and empowered ambassadors and champions at its branches to ensure alignment.

Embedding Women Program 2016 GBA Summit

  • Banco Nacional de Costa Rica discussed the importance of using data to embed their program. Although at the beginning the program only included 3 percent of their customer base, they were able to make the case that women represented almost half of the bank’s customers and therefore should be prioritized. However, in many cases, high-level reports were not disaggregated by sex, and therefore senior management did not focus on the program.
  • With a flexible and persistent team and taking advantage of the first woman Board president at the bank as well as a bank restructuring, the team was able to make their case through the use of data and gain the buy-in from senior management that they needed.
  • The bank also mentioned that working with different strategic partners, including the GBA and Inter-American Development Bank, was important to ensure program embedding.

Embedding Women Program 2016 GBA Summit

  • BancoEstado discussed their journey in developing their program, “Crece Mujer Emprendedora.” After the program’s design and launch, they realized that implementing a women’s leadership program as well as a staff gender sensitization training was key in ensuring buy-in across the bank. The women’s leadership program included mentoring, leadership workshops and staff forums across levels. The gender sensitization training included workshops as well as a communications plan. More than 1,300 staff members have been trained. The program evaluation found significant impact on how staff saw gender differences, even including impact on their personal lives.


Panels Button

Embedding Women Program 2016 GBA Summit


Global Banking on Women Specialist, IFC

Chair, Global Banking Alliance for Women; Assistant General Manager, BLC Bank
Presentation (members only)

Women’s Market Director, Banco Nacional de Costa Rica
Presentation (members only)

Executive General Manager, BancoEstado
Presentation (members only)


“Support from top management is a key ingredient for properly embedding a Women’s Market program.”
— Tania Moussallem

“Having internal and external strategic partners was very important to success.”
— Maria Aminta Quirce

“Gender sensitization training has had a huge impact.” 
— Jessica López