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Credit Suisse joins hands with Women’s World Banking to promote leadership diversity and financial inclusion

Credit Suisse and Women’s World Banking successfully concluded the second phase of a one-year long Leadership and Diversity for Innovation Program last week at Credit Suisse’s Centre of Excellence in Powai, with 25 senior leaders and high-potential staff from financial institutions around the world attending.

More than one billion women around the world have little or no access to financial services. This program is designed to strengthen and empower the leaders of financial institutions who are committed to serving low-income women clients with innovative products such as insurance, savings and pensions.

Credit Suisse Research Institute’s report, entitled “The CS Gender 3000: Women in Senior Management,” indicates that diversity is good for business. The analysis covers more than 28,000 senior managers globally at over 3,000 companies across all industries and shows that companies benefit from increasing leadership opportunities for women. Greater diversity in boards and management are empirically associated with higher returns on equity, higher price/book valuations and superior stock price performance. However, India is among the bottom three countries in Emerging Asia that recorded a low score in diversity, with only 7.1 percent of women representation in senior management positions, compared to China’s 14.4 percent.

According to the World Bank’s 2014 Global Financial Inclusion Index data 43 percent of women in India have access to a bank account versus 62 percent of men whereas globally, it is 58 percent of women versus 65 percent of men. Research shows that women tend to invest more of their income into the health, education and well-being of their families. Thus, it is vital to ensure women are a crucial part of financial inclusion, both as clients and leaders.

This program, part of the Credit Suisse Microfinance Capacity Building Initiative, brings together a team from each of the 13 participating financial institutions: a senior manager or CEO and a high-potential woman employee. The team identifies a business challenge related to serving the women’s market on which to focus during the year-long program. The senior executives met in New York in April; both groups came to Mumbai this week for ongoing training. For high-potential women the one-week program combines leadership training and skill building including negotiation, strategic relationship building and visioning. Senior executives hone their skills to better serve the women’s market by driving institutional change using coaching and talent management, scenario planning and gender diversity initiatives.

Commenting on the initiative, Mihir J Doshi, CEO, Credit Suisse India said, “Credit Suisse has been providing leadership and developing innovative solutions to link the top with the base of the income pyramid and promote financial inclusion for over a decade. In India, we have supported microfinance and financial inclusion through our business and Corporate Citizenship initiatives. The bank was one of the first global financial institutions to recognize the potential of promoting financial inclusion for low-income households and support entrepreneurship in developing countries. This is a true “One

Bank” approach that we aspire to achieve across various verticals. At Credit Suisse, we are committed to developing the leadership skills of women and to contributing to creating women leaders in financial services beyond our bank.”

Mary Ellen Iskenderian, President and CEO of Women’s World Banking said: “We are delighted to have partnered with Credit Suisse to support this team-approach to leadership development, which fosters institution-wide commitment to developing emerging women leaders. The women can recognize their full leadership potential and make significant institutional change in partnership with their senior executives. It is not just the women leaders who benefit; the organization wins by fostering new and different perspectives to drive innovation.”

The initiative empowered leaders of microfinance and financial services companies from India, Kenya, Pakistan, Malawi, the Dominican Republic, Jordan, the Philippines, Uganda, Egypt, Cambodia, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Peru, Mexico and Argentina by creating services and solutions for women by training.

This initiative started in New York in April and reached Mumbai to conclude the most important arm of training of the chosen senior women leaders to better serve the women at the base of the pyramid in this yearlong initiative.

Through the year-long program, the women leaders identified and deciphered real-time challenges their institution face be it in the technical space or execution of the innovative products and services during the session.

The five-day workshop in India also focussed on individual development. These in-person program sessions were complemented by webinars with faculty from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and remote executive coaching services from Creative Metier.

At the conclusion of the event, said Meenakshi KS, Head, Centres of Excellence Mumbai and Country Head, Human Resources, India “I am excited about hosting Women’s World Banking at our Mumbai Centre of Excellence. Sharing and exchanging real life stories between CS leaders and the participants of the Leadership and Diversity for Innovation program (LDIP) has been extremely enriching for all. I am proud to say that we have made the best use of our various internal CS initiatives like Leadership training, Diversity & Inclusion, Philanthropy, Micro financing and uniquely created an opportunity to bring value not just to employees but to the larger community outside the firm. This exemplifies ‘thinking out of the box’ to change the workplace culture”.

Senior leadership from Credit Suisse also shared and exchanged real life experiences with the participants of the Leadership and Diversity for Innovation program (LDIP) in enriching sessions. The LDIP program also leveraged Credit Suisse initiatives in leadership training, diversity & inclusion, corporate citizenship, and microfinance. This partnership created a unique opportunity to further enhance and develop workplace culture by creating deep and multi-faceted engagement between participants, employees and experts from around the world.

The participating organizations included Kashf Foundation from Pakistan; Kenya Women Microfinance Bank Limited and Equity Bank Limited from Kenya; NBS Bank Limited from Malawi; Banco de Ahorro y Crédito ADOPEM (Banco ADOPEM) from the Dominican Republic; Microfund for

Women from Jordan; CARD Bank and CARD Inc. from the Philippines; Ujjivan Financial Services Pvt Ltd. from India; Uganda Finance Trust Bank Ltd. MDI; Lead Foundation from Egypt; AMK Microfinance Institution Plc. from Cambodia; and Pro Mujer, Inc. serving Bolivia, Nicaragua, Peru, Mexico and Argentina.