Investing in Women: Our journey towards a more equitable society

By Mansa Nettey
Business Features Investing in Women: Our journey towards a more equitable society
MAR 27, 2024 LISTEN

The third month of every year, March, has become a canvas on which the pertinent issues of women's empowerment and inclusion are laid bare and deliberated upon. There’s a flurry of initiatives aimed at investing in women and inspiring inclusion while the achievements of those who have accomplished impressive feats are heralded and celebrated. From the different mentoring and networking sessions to communications across media, women’s issues are the focus. I find it helpful to use this time where women are top of mind as a gauge for what progress has been made, locally and globally.

I look to the past – what has been achieved – and what is to come. This year’s theme, “Invest in Women: Accelerate progress”, resonates deeply with our ethos at Standard Chartered. We have always believed that investing in women is not just a matter of social justice but also a powerful economic driver.

Gender Equality Within Our Organisation

At Standard Chartered, we’ve made it our mission to create an environment where every individual can thrive, irrespective of gender.

From as far back as 2016, we’ve led female-empowering programmes at all levels within our organisation.

Last year, we amended our maternity leave policy. In an unprecedented move, women have 20 weeks off when they welcome a newborn into the world. It underscores our unwavering commitment to fostering a supportive environment for our employees as they navigate the joys and challenges of motherhood.

Additionally, we’ve introduced menopause cover for women going through this natural, yet often strenuous, phase of life. This initiative ensures they receive the necessary care, support and understanding during this period.

In terms of leadership representation, we’re proud to say that 50 per cent of the Standard Chartered Ghana management team members are women. This equal representation is not a mere statistic for us; it’s a reflection of our obligation to promoting capable and deserving women into leadership roles. We solidly believe that the Bank is better for this.

Over the years, we have established mentoring opportunities for female staff at every level of the organisation. These range from our “Women Mentoring Women” programme which focuses on harnessing the experience and exposure of senior executives for the benefit of younger female colleagues to our “Audience with Ghanaians Abroad (AwGA)” initiative. The AwGA was curated to allow for interaction between senior leaders within the Standard Chartered Group and female colleagues in Ghana. The shared experiences from working across different markets has enormously brought to bear the benefit of diversity which comes with the attendant advantage of unlocking great potential.

Further, we have introduced “Experience Sharing” sessions to inspire female colleagues in the Bank. During these sessions, female members on the Bank’s Board get to share stories of their career journeys. This interaction has had a significant impact, providing employees with the opportunity to learn from these accomplished leaders.

Empowering Women Beyond Our Walls
As a Bank that is community-focused, our dedication to empowering women extends beyond our organisation. We’ve launched several initiatives aimed at equipping girls and women with skills, knowledge, and resources that they need to succeed.

  1. Goal

Goal is our global Futuremakers education programme that uses sport, play and life-skills education to transform the lives of girls and young women.

Launched in 2017, Goal has empowered more than 12,000 girls in low-income communities in Ghana with the confidence, knowledge, and skills that they need to become integral leaders in their families, communities, and societies. Goal adopts a holistic approach focused on strengthening communication skills and confidence; skills which can later be transferred to the world of work.

  1. Women in Tech Incubator programme

Recognising the need for increased diversity in tech, we launched the Standard Chartered Women in Tech programme in 2020. This incubator programme supports female-led entrepreneurial teams with business management training, mentoring, and seed funding. Since its inception, the incubator has supported 54 businesses with 15 participants receiving seed funding of USD150,000.00 (equivalent in Ghana Cedis).

The Women in Tech programme is more than just an incubator; it’s a platform for change. It aims at creating opportunities for women to develop entrepreneurial and leadership expertise, helping them break barriers and using technology to tackle social challenges faced by communities.

  1. Lift by Standard Chartered

Our “Lift by Standard Chartered” programme is an initiative designed to support women entrepreneurs to take their businesses to the next level.

Lift offers a unique client value proposition including tailored financing and unique product solutions, capacity building and networking opportunities for our female clients. It’s our way of acknowledging the vital role that women-owned businesses play in our economy and society.

The Unending Journey to Equity
As we celebrate women this month, we’re reminded again that our quest towards gender equality and women's empowerment is far from over. We’ve made significant strides, but there’s still work to be done. Investing in girls and young women will doubtlessly deliver greater prosperity and diversity to Ghana.

Standard Chartered is firmly committed to this!

We will continue to invest in creating a more equal working environment, empower more women and contribute to a more equitable world.

Mansa Nettey is the Chief Executive of Standard Chartered Bank Ghana PLC.