The Bank of Africa Ghana Limited (BOA), has received the topmost institutional award for outstanding contribution to women empowerment in the financial sector, at the Women in Finance and Investment Summit (WIFIS) & Awards 2021.
The distinguished honour is in recognition of BOA’s strategic value of diversity and inclusion of women across its business, which has gone beyond formulaic adherence to demonstrating unrivalled commitment to its promotion and implementation.
In this highly competitive category ‘Most Diverse and Inclusive Financial Institution of the year’, BOA was recognized and honoured ahead of other powerhouses in the banking sector and among non-bank financial Institutions (NBFIs), for showing leadership in changing the gender disparity culture at top management level of financial services providers.
According to the Chartered Global Investment Analyst (CGIA) Institute, the organizers of the programme, this first edition of Women in Finance and Investment Awards, seeks to accelerate the pace of change towards a more diverse and inclusive finance and investment industry, as well as celebrate female leaders and institution who are innovatively driving change and ethically shaping the finance & Investment Industry in exceptional ways.
Acting Head, Human Resource Management, BOA, Adwoa Boateng Addo, recounting the innovative initiatives that leapfrogged it over its peers indicated that for the past three years, the bank embarked on a conscious journey to promote and get more women to top level management positions and boardrooms as these areas were largely dominated by men.
“We have realized that though we have more women in the banking sector than men, at the top management and boardroom level, we only had few women rising to such positions. So, over the last three years, what we have done through an initiative of one of our female deputy directors is to have a platform just for women mentoring which we termed ‘Women Mentoring Circle’ to guide and encourage women to move up the ladder in the financial sector,” she said.
Touching on the outbreak of global pandemic COVID-19, and how it impacted the operationalization of this all-important women circle, she stated that because of the prominence management placed on the initiative, an internal digital platform was created where the women get to meet regularly to discuss and deliberate on their challenges and solutions proposed.
This online platform, she emphasized that did broaden the initiative as it gave access to women in all branches of the bank across the country the opportunity to sign up and participate.
On the impact of the initiative so far and if its intended objectives are being achieved, she indicated that since the inception of the women mentoring circle, more women have been able to move up the ladder and are doing exceptionally well in some top management positions.
“At the women mentoring circle, we meet and we talk about important issues of concern to women in the financial sector such as work-life balance, maximizing finances and meeting targets, time management, career advancement courses, as well as individual specific issues among others,” she stressed.
This award comes in just a moment ago when BOA was adjudged the lead Trade Finance Bank of the Year, at the Ghana Accountancy and Finance Awards, 2021.
Speaking on the two awards within the year under review, Chief Risk Officer, BOA, Akofa Dakwa, stated that the Bank started this year with a strategic focus to become the ‘Trade Bank of Ghana’, supported by a strong Group, BMCE – Bank of Africa Group found in 18 countries with presence in Africa, Europe and Asia.
These awards, she emphasized are just a testament to the innovative policy decisions and the hard work the followed.
“We have chalked success in this area and have endeared the Bank to companies in Ghana who do business across borders. The Bank’s support is expressed in the several initiatives in place to train and mentor women at all levels of the Bank and eliminate barriers that work against the progression of women in the career ladder,” she said.
BOA’s Affirmative Action
The Bank also has a strong commitment to supporting the SDG’s and key among the principles it supports is the empowerment of women.
In terms of recruitment, the BOA has developed an affirmative action policy that gives special consideration to women who met the stipulated threshold.
Madam Addo reiterated the need to push more women to decision making positions as they bring on board more sanity, ethical principles and their natural nurturing charisma.
Again, unlike other organisations where women face demotions and pay-cut among other challenges when they embark on maternity leave, the BOA has a favourable maternity leave policy and a conducive environment for reorienting women back from maternity leave, and on top of that even grant men 10-day paternity leave as well.
Support to Women Entrepreneurs
The Bank of Africa, through its small and medium-scale Enterprises (SME) initiative, has supported and advanced funds to over 1,000 women owned businesses and entrepreneurs to grow and scale their business.
Executive Head, Corporate and Enterprise Banking, William Boateng, stated that beyond the financial support to female owned SME’s and entrepreneurs BOA through its dedicated SME Managers have also offered advisory services and technical support to empower these businesses.