Microfinance as an industry is still quite young, and when it comes to addressing institutional support for gender diversity, the efforts are nascent. Much has been learned—both about what has worked and what has failed—in the corporate world about engaging women professionals. The question is how well the microfinance industry can we take advantage of these inroads, these tested efforts and do even better at building inclusive institutions? Can the microfinance industry leapfrog the corporate world’s stages of evolution by incorporating gender best practices into the way of doing business, before business becomes too entrenched?
WWB has been working with institutions on gender diversity in 2008 both in response to a declining number of women at senior levels in the industry. WWB’s work with institutions builds the case that workforce diversity makes business sense. Corporate experience demonstrates that strategies such as mirroring the market and differentiation as a gender diverse organization to attract top female talent have corresponding benefits in attracting and meeting the needs of women clients. These concepts are highly relevant today as the microfinance industry, particularly in South Asia, is being forced to look inward and explore what it means to focus on customers and re-examine its commitment to the mission of poverty alleviation. WWB has recently produced two publications sharing what we know about mirroring the market and how institutions can ensure they continue to attract and retain talented women at all levels.
What if it Had Been Lehman Brothers & Sisters?: The Importance of Building Gender Diverse Microfinance Institutions draws on three gender assessments conducted by WWB from 2008 to 2010 with microfinance institutions in India, Bangladesh and Pakistan. The intention of this cross-institutional analysis is not to minimize the significant differences amongst institutions in these three countries of South Asia but rather to identify what similarities exist for women working in microfinance and propose common solutions to achieving greater workforce diversit
The Organizational Gender Toolkit includes diagnostic tools, best practices and case studies. To date, WWB has conducted OGAs as part of our technical service offering to microfinance institutions. This toolkit will allow microfinance institutions to conduct a self-assessment of their recruitment, retention and promotion of women staff. The OGA process has never before been captured in writing. By documenting the process, WWB is empowering its MFIs to make critical operational changes that result in a more equitable and diverse institutions. The electronic OGA toolkit will contain diagnostic tools as on the OGA process to make it simple for institutions to conduct their own OGA and evaluate human resources policies that will attract and retain more female staff.