While women make up 60 per cent of the entry-level workforce in Vietnam’s banks, less than a third make it to senior management positions, according to a new study by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) in partnership with the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV).
The study titled "Mind the gap: Getting more women into leadership in Vietnam’s banking sector", shows there is strong recognition of the value of gender equality in the banking sector. This is especially true for how gender diversity in senior positions could help banks attract and retain skill while expanding a robust base of female management talent, thus boosting productivity and financial performance.
However, many banks did not know how to, or make the effort to, create a more gender-equal workforce and leadership team. Women reported less access to all forms of training and career development opportunities, with strong evidence that they also faced overt and unconscious bias over their childbearing and childcare responsibilities.
|While women make up 60 per cent of the entry-level workforce in Vietnam’s banks, less than a third make it to senior management positions |
The SBV confirmed, “Promoting gender equality and women’s representation in leadership positions is important to the SBV. This report, resulting from the close cooperation between the SBV and IFC, provides a snapshot of where women and men are in the banking sector, the challenges that women face, and introduces ideas and recommendations to have more women in leadership and management positions.”
The study also showed that while 80 per cent of people felt safe at work, nearly one in five had witnessed bullying and one in ten had personally experienced it, with similar responses among men and women. Based on surveys of nearly 40,000 employees from banks, as well as sit-down interviews with senior and mid-level bank managers, the study highlighted that women wanted better support to improve their work-life balance.
“Lack of gender diversity in leadership in the banking sector is a persistent problem globally,” said Thomas Jacobs, IFC country manager for Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos.
“While Vietnam is doing better than some other countries in terms of women in bank management, this report clearly shows more should be done to turn commitments into practical steps that enable women to move into leadership positions. We know that gender-balanced leadership leads to better financial returns and other benefits for employees, investors, and business,” continued Jacobs.
As a first step, and in a bid to help tackle the gender gap in banking, the IFC and SBV are setting up a special initiative for Vietnamese banking institutions to learn from successful global practices, with a focus on talent development, succession planning, and creating more flexible and inclusive workplaces.
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By Linh Le