Women’s changing socioeconomic position has business implications for both the marketplace and the workforce. Women wield increasing power as consumers and are a valuable asset as employees. In my first post, I outlined the issue of gender equality and its business impacts. In this post, I touch on the implications of gender equality within the financial services industry.

Women are an increasingly valuable business asset—as customers and employees

Experiences from microfinance organisations and commercial banks have shown that when women are direct beneficiaries of credit, the organisations experience higher repayment rates. Similarly, the data shows women entrepreneurs are more likely than men to pay off their long-term obligations. This means women represent a strong customer base for financial services organisations due in part to their more responsible payment habits.

Additionally, women as financial services consumers generate expanded selling opportunities. They tend to look at financial services, insurance in particular, from a broader perspective—more so than men. Women often consider the needs of the entire family and how needs change according to life cycle changes. This holistic focus opens the opportunity to deliver a wider variety of products and services to women customers, over time.

Within the insurance industry, and other financial services by extension, women are a high performing sales force. They tend to advocate for their company, understand and meet the needs of a customer’s entire family, are good at building long-term relationships, show high success rates at selling to both men and women, and are an especially important asset in societies where customs prevent women from interacting with men. Women employees in financial services provide valuable perspectives and insights into the value chain—from product conceptualisation to the point of sale.

Adopting a women-centric sales motion

While many leading financial services companies have taken active steps to promote gender diversity, this behavior has not become the norm throughout the industry. For example, Fidelity Investments in the United States has found that women want to thoroughly understand what the company’s products mean for them, as opposed to receiving the condensed version men commonly want. To be effective, the sales motion toward women must be different than the one used for men. However, a recent study of the insurance sector indicated no insurer, agency, or broker interviewed across the selected focus markets provided gender-sensitive training to their salesforce, which may explain the disconnect between women clients and their insurers.

Untapped value creation opportunities

Financial institutions have plenty of untapped value creation opportunities to reap through greater female inclusion. HRs professionals play a pivotal role in preparing their organisations to address gender equality as well as ensuring a gender-diverse workforce.

In my next post, I’ll describe steps financial services HR professionals can take to drive a gender-equal corporate environment and help female workers reach parity with their male counterparts.

For a more information on the issues surrounding gender equality in the workforce, please see:

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