It is a shocking statistic that in today’s society, a world full of technology and gadgets, there are more than 1 billion women who do not have any access to even the most basic of financial products. So concerned are financial institutions worldwide, that they are looking into effective ways in which they can assist in bridging this financial exclusion.
In 2014 65% of men worldwide owned bank accounts compared to just 58% of women. Amongst developing economies like South Asia, for example, the figures show that 55% of men had accounts compared to only 37% of women, a staggering discrepancy of 18%. In contrast in the Middle East in 2014 where this difference was calculated to be around 10%.
There are 26 financial institutions that are dedicated to bridging this gender gap, as listed on the 2016 Bloomberg Financial Services Gender-Equality Index Member Firms:
Bank of America
Bank of Montreal
Bloomberg is planning to build on the findings of their initial list, making the survey public and expanding the index to other sectors including consumer products and technology in the near future. This is an expansion that Women’s World Banking is looking forward to, not least because gender diversity in financial institutions is a critical step towards achieving their mission of bringing financial services to low-income women all over the world.
If these financial institutions are to begin the process of bridging the gender gap, then they need to ensure that their own staff choices also reflect the diversity of gender they are seeking. These inclusion efforts should include not just statistics on gender but also details of any company policies that relate to gender, such as maternity leave, product offering and community engagements; a firms support for those organisations that are focused on legislation aimed towards gender equality.
In addition, when it comes to bridging the gender gap it seems that banks in particular need to step up in respect of their investment management in an effort to entice more women into realising the value of the very many financial products that the financial services sector has to offer.
MasterCard recently conducted a survey, the results of which were published in June this year. They polled over 10,000 consumers spread across 10 European countries, including Germany, UK, Sweden, Poland and France. The survey revealed that 49% of those polled, less than half believe there to be a high level of financial inclusion in their own country. 80% do not, however, agree that Europe is the most financially inclusive region in the word. It is, in fact, disconcerting to discover that the vast majority of Europeans, more than 80%, believe that men have a higher degree of both financial and digital inclusion than women, less than 47%, however, believe that access to better financial and digital product education would assist with inclusion.
When the reality of distrust in the banking system in the UK is that two million Britons remain unbanked then perhaps the financial institutions are right in feeling that financial exclusion needs to be bridged. Not least since these are the kind of figures we would expect to see for areas such as Africa and Asia.
Access to banking
Studies have shown, especially in developing countries, that access to banking can be of particular importance to women, with control of the money they tend to make decisions that are better for their families. When a woman has some direct say over how household money is spent it is more likely that families will have nutritious meals. It also gives them an opportunity to establish autonomy, without access to banking accounts women may be forced to give vital money to their husbands or a male relative as they have no way of keeping it safe. Access to bank accounts doesn’t just give women a sense of financial security for themselves but also for their children.
It is these women that financial institutions need to reach out to the most if they are hoping to bridge the gender gap.
from Finance Girl http://www.financegirl.co.uk/the-gender-gap-in-the-financial-services-sector-how-financial-institutions-are-bridging-financial-exclusion/