GBA Case Studies: NatWest, BLC Bank, Westpac

Studying Global Best Practice

The GBA Master Class continued with a series of Case Studies from three GBA best practice banks. NatWest presented the first Case Study, walking through the development of its Women’s Market program, established in 2003. Julie Baker described the Women in Business specialist accreditation, which she said is the heart of the program and has so far provided skills training to more than 500 employees. The second Case Study was presented by Tania Moussallem on the growth of We Initiative at BLC Bank in Lebanon. She explored how BLC Bank has evolved into an expert on gender, opening up a national conversation on the topic. Felicity Duffy from Westpac then shared the journey of their Women’s Markets program, which is more than 20 years old. The program focuses on delivering products and services that build relationships with women customers and meet their specific needs throughout their lives.

Key Points: NatWest

  • NatWest’s Women in Business program was launched in 2003. Initially, it focused on providing women opportunities to build their networks at events and conferences across the country and building female role models by sponsoring the NatWest everywoman Awards, which celebrated their 15th anniversary in 2017.
  • In 2012, after joining the GBA and armed with research from the Women’s Business Council stating that if women opened businesses at the same rate as men, it would add an additional 60 billion GBP to the economy by 2030, NatWest began strengthening the Women in Business proposition further.
  • The bank worked with UK-based accreditation firm Chartered Banker to formalize their Women in Business Specialist training program, which provides employees across bank functions the tools they need to best serve women customers.
    • NatWest has trained over 500 Women in Business Specialists to date, with about 40 percent of the current class of trainees being men.
    • Women in Business Specialists host events and workshops to connect and educate women, and direct customers to resources to help them grow their businesses.
  • NatWest shares the stories of its Women in Business clients to help demonstrate how the bank supports women and market the program.
  • A marketing campaign last year that included a podcast series, as well as ads in local media and a widely read magazine contributed to a huge uptick in hits to the Women in Business website and customer growth.
  • The bank began analyzing data on the Women’s Market regularly within the last two years, after the team gained insights from the GBA All-Stars Academy. This enabled NatWest to clearly define the business case for the bank and track the program’s success.
  • In the past year NatWest has reached 120,000 Women in Business customers, switchers increased by 36 percent, and the bank saw an increase in lending of 11 percent. Data also has revealed that women clients are more loyal, with a Net Promoter Score seven points higher than that of men.
  • When asked about the business case for the provision of non-financial services, Julie noted that sometimes these offerings pay for themselves: Profit from one highly successful Women in Business customer who received recognition via the everywoman Awards as well as capacity and know-how boosts from the bank has covered a significant portion of NatWest’s training costs for its women clients.

Key Points: BLC Bank

Tania Moussallem Westpac Case Study Master Class 2017 Summit

  • BLC Bank began developing its We Initiative program after realizing that women were a growth market that could serve as a differentiator for the bank in the highly competitive Lebanese financial sector.
  • The bank understood that if it was going to build a credible women’s program, it needed to change its internal culture first.
    • BLC Bank joined the GBA in 2010, learning best practices and attending Summits that helped shape the program. The bank also committed to the UN Global Compact’s Women’s Empowerment Principles to promote gender equality in the private sector.
    • A small Women’s Market team was put together, which developed a mission and a vision for the program that was then spread across all business lines – both horizontally and vertically in policies and processes.
  • Recognizing the value of sex-disaggregated data to establishing a baseline, setting targets and tracking the evolution of the program, BLC Bank began tracking data on We Initiative from day one.
  • Two financial products were developed to address barriers to women’s financial access the bank had identified: an offering that allowed women to open accounts for their children and a collateral-free loan.
  • Non-financial products the bank offers include a variety of offline and online education and networking platforms, as well as recognition for the achievements of women entrepreneurs and expanded access to markets via the Brilliant Lebanese Awards.
  • These non-financial services have established BLC Bank as a market leader in gender. The bank has received many awards, and multiple case studies have been written about its success.
  • BLC Bank also engages in advocacy efforts and has been a key contributor to the topics of women’s economic empowerment and stereotyping entering the national dialogue with campaigns like #SheKtirMhem.
  • By analyzing its portfolio, the bank also found that policies of the Lebanese Central Bank were benefiting men much more than women, and the Central Bank is now looking into addressing this.
  • BLC Bank’s women’s portfolio across all business lines is growing twice as fast as the rest of the bank, with half of the rate of the NPLs of the total portfolio. We Initiative contributes about 19 percent of the bottom line.
  • Five years after launch, there are still no serious competitors in the market as the program is not easy to copy given its integration into the bank’s culture. The first-mover advantage has proved extremely valuable.

Key Points: Westpac

Felicity Duffy Westpac Case Study Master Class 2017 Summit

  • Having just celebrated its 200th anniversary, Westpac is Australia’s oldest company and first bank.
  • The company has recognized the value of women for decades, launching its dedicated Women’s Markets program in 1998.
    • The bank sees women as an important growth segment and has focused on being the bank of choice for women and girls since the Women’s Markets program’s inception.
    • Twenty years on, the program continues to deliver strong results, with increases both in customer numbers and depth of relationships with clients.
  • Westpac has been rated the most sustainable bank in the world for the last four years by the Dow Jones Sustainability Index. As of October 2017, the bank had 50 percent representation of women in leadership roles at every level of the organization – from branch managers through to the C-suite.
  • Westpac’s Women’s Markets program offers a wide variety of non-financial services, including access to education, information and networking opportunities. Since 2008, the bank has offered these services both in-person and online via the Ruby Connection
  • Today Ruby has evolved to be Westpac’s overarching brand for its women clients, featuring a range of life-cycle-based financial and non-financial offerings.
  • The annual 100 Women of Influence Awards creates 100 new role models for women across the country each year by honoring women doing amazing things in Australia. The bank also supports 100 students each year with a scholarship, 50 of whom are women.
  • Through its Women’s Markets program, the bank aims both to attract women to branches and business banking centers and to arm those teams to serve women better. The team responsible for this includes just three people situated within the Marketing department, but the program itself is embedded thoroughly throughout the bank.

Julie Baker Westpac Case Study Master Class 2017 Summit


Head of Enterprise, Business Banking; NatWest
Presentation (members only)

Assistant General Manager, BLC Bank
Presentation (members only)

Head of Women’s Markets, Westpac
Presentation (members only)


We have the evidence that this is a profitable market: The increase in business speaks for itself.

— Julie Baker

When you ask banks, they say they are serving women well. When you ask women, the answer is different.

— Tania Moussallem

Achieving half women in our leadership roles didn’t just occur by itself. It took targets, measurement, policies and training.

— Felicity Duffy

Relationships and networks are key for women in business.

— Julie Baker

It is easy to copy a product. But a culture and a full-fledged mainstream program – this is hard to copy.

— Tania Moussallem

Women’s Markets has been a major part of the bank’s journey.

— Felicity Duffy