The bank for a changing world

Gender equality: when corporations drive progress

  • 07.02.2018

Though more and more women are joining the workforce, they remain underrepresented in top management positions. In order to improve gender quality, BNP Paribas has launched a range of initiatives and taken several different commitments. This policy has already shown results.

Several different gender gaps

Women currently represent over 57% of all bank workers but only 46% of managers in the sector, according to the French Banking Federation. While this number is much higher than other industries (just 29.6% of management positions are held by women  at France’s 60 largest corporations ), it still shows that we have much more to do in terms of career advancement for women.  

Several reasons lie behind this situation. First of all, cultural aspects and stereotypes remain difficult to overcome. For example, maternity can often hold a woman back in her career. Other explanations frequently offered include the overrepresentation of women in part-time positions and a tendency for women to censor themselves—women tend to apply for positions of responsibility  less often.

A recognized policy

As a bank committed to ensuring gender equality in its everyday operations, BNP Paribas fights against stereotypes and utilizes various systems to promote equality within the Group and combat sexism. 

BNP Paribas’s strategy consists of setting targets for the representation of women in key populations. Moreover, the Group has no intention to compromise in any way when it comes to its skills and performs regular monitoring to avoid making biased decisions. 

This policy was recognized by the top international standards in this matter. The Group notably figures among the 100 companies on the Thomson Reuters Global Diversity and Inclusion Index, and also joined the Bloomberg Financial Services Gender-Equality Index (BFGEI) and the Pax Ellevate Global Women’s Index Fund

Promoting equality within the company

BNP Paribas’s commitment comes directly from General Management, which embodies the Group’s equality policies.

Jean-Laurent Bonnafé, Director and Chief Executive Officer of BNP Paribas, signed on to the HeForShe campaign launched by UN Women. When announcing the partnership, he declared: “To take the gender equality issue forward in a positive way, our world needs the commitment of men, as well as women.

Marie-Claire Capobianco, Head of BNP Paribas French Retail Banking and Executive Committee member, plays a strong and committed role in promoting female entrepreneurship. 

To encourage change and work in favor of a more egalitarian corporate environment, BNP Paribas is also committed to the following efforts: 

  1. raising employee awareness to biases and stereotypes that hold women back in their careers; Training in how to fight discrimination, stereotypes and prejudice, and how to promote diversity and inclusion reached 73% of Group employees across 36 countries, as of late 2016.
  2. Awareness campaigns—roundtables, debates, posters and signs promoting awareness, etc.—are also carried out to support national and international initiatives, such as International Women’s Day, International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, Diversity and Inclusion Week and Parenthood Week. The bank also supports employee networks, which promote actions and policies both across France and internationally. In this way, the association BNP Paribas MixCity and its almost 8,000 members promote professional equality in 22 different countries. In France, Happy Men Share More, a network of men committed to professional equality, aims to promote a better work-life balance. Finally, BDDF’ELLES, launched in 2017 by the French Retail Banking network, is an internal network open to men, which aims to promote women within management. 

Concrete support

BNP Paribas is constantly adding new initiatives to its system to promote women. These initiatives aim to urge female employees to obtain management positions. Two new initiatives were launched in late 2017, in connection with the Leaders for Tomorrow talent management strategy, to boost confidence and visibility among female employees and encourage networking.

Opportunities for Women helps female employees analyze and boost their leadership, through two days of interactive workshops.  

Women on Board provides six months of training and support to talented women seeking to obtain positions on the management boards of SMEs or social businesses in France.

A visible commitment to all its all stakeholders

BNP Paribas is committed to ensuring lasting progress: 

  1. On the international level, BNP Paribas participates in global initiatives to change society. The Group signed the UN Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEP) in 2011 (and partnered with the UN Women National Committee France’s HeForShe movement in 2016 ). The charter is an initiative of UNIFEM (United Nations Development Fund for Women) in favor of gender equality. BNP Paribas is also a partner of the Women Initiative Foundation, which works to promote female entrepreneurship.
  2. By involving its stakeholders, the Group has an impact on its entire ecosystem. This mobilization includes actions for public organizations or associations, for example with the Observatory on Corporate Social Responsibility (ORSE ), or with France’s largest employer federation,  MEDEF, through “Patrons champions du changement”  (an initiative that leverages social and managerial innovation to ensure sustainable performance). “BNP Paribas is the bank that best resisted the crisis, and it is also the bank with the largest female workforce,”  recalls the MEDEF.
  3. More generally, in the banking sector, Financi’elles is a federation of internal networks for promoting gender parity in banking, finance and insurance, created by networks of women managers in 2010.
  4. Finally, in order to advance gender equality, BNP Paribas also takes active part in studies and research work. The Group participated in a survey conducted by BVA for the CESP (Superior Council of Professional Equality) and organized an internal colloquium on sexism in the workplace . The Group also published the “Agir contre le Sexisme” (“Take Action against Sexism”) kit, designed for all employers .

Tangible results

This proactive policy, pursued in several different fields and echoed throughout the Group’s entities, has achieved results—among the 2,000 senior managers at BNP Paribas, 27% are women. Our target is to reach 30% by 2020. Women account for nearly half of all appointments among the Group’s top 100 managers.

All these efforts have ensured BNP Paribas a prime spot on international rankings such as the annual list of the Most Powerful Women in Banking and Finance, published by the illustrious specialist magazine American Banker.  Nandita Bakhshi, President and CEO of Bank of the West and Co-CEO of BNP Paribas USA, is ranked as the fourth most powerful woman in banking for the second consecutive year. Together with Michelle Di Gangi, Executive Vice-President and Head of SME Banking at Bank of the West, she is also one of the magazine’s top “women to watch”. Finally, Claudine Gallagher, Head of BNP Paribas Securities Services Americas, appears in the top 25 of the list. 

Why should women get top billing?

The American Banker ranking of the Most Powerful Women in Banking and Finance encourages women to think outside the box about their careers, to raise their ambitions and to take risks. It’s also a source of inspiration for banking and finance companies, inviting them to update their practices and mindsets. This goal is shared by other international rankings, which help to boost women’s visibility in the press, such as the Forbes list of the most powerful women, or Fortune’s list of the most powerful women in business. 

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