Vietnam’s banks need more women leaders to promote inclusive, high-productivity growth hinh anh 1

People pass by Techcombank's headquarters in Hanoi. (Photo: VNA) 

Hanoi (VNS/VNS) - While women make up 60% of the entry level workforce in Vietnam’s banks, less than a third make it to senior and top management positions, according to a new study by IFC in partnership with the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV).

The study "Mind the gap: Getting more women into leadership in Vietnam’s banking sector" shows there was strong recognition of the value of gender equality in the banking sector, especially how gender diversity in senior positions could help banks attract and retain skill while expanding a robust base of female management talent, boosting workforce productivity and financial performance.

However, many banks did not know how to 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 they also faced overt and unconscious bias over childbearing and childcare responsibilities.

“Promoting gender equality and women’s representation in leadership positions is important to the State Bank of Vietnam. 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 Vietnamese central bank confirmed.

The study also showed that while 80% of people felt safe at work, nearly one in five had witnessed bullying and one in ten had personally experienced bullying behavior, 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 middle bank managers, the study also showed women wanted better support for 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, enabling 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.”

As a first step and in a bid to help tackle the gender gap in banking, supported by the SBV, IFC is 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./.