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Women in banking 'facing challenges'

Manama, June 9, 2013

Women in the workplace, particularly in the banking sector, continue to be dismally represented, especially in more senior roles, said a top official.

Al Salam Bank chairwoman and inJAz Bahrain executive director Shaikha Hessa bint Khalifa Al Khalifa was speaking at a Women in Banking roundtable attended by female banking executives from more than 15 institutions, according to a report in the Gulf Daily News.

The forum is jointly organised by Citibank and the Bahrain Association of Banks (BAB) at the Kempinski Ixir Hotel.

She gave a detailed account of the role of women in the banking and financial sector, pointing out that this is the largest single employer in the kingdom, with more than 14,400 people and women making up 37 per cent of it.

"However, the majority of that percentile hold only junior to middle management roles," she said.

"It is clear that women aren't currently progressing as far, or as high, as their male counterparts. This is not only a local issue, but also an epidemic that is spread across the globe."

She listed the challenges facing women in the financial sector as the prevailing attitude towards women, an existing male-dominated workforce and the organisational culture and a lack of female role models.

She called for proactive initiatives to counter the challenges to women's career advancement in banking.

"The biggest challenge women face in their career advancement in banking today is not about organisational processes, but is about awareness, attitudes and the culture of the organisation," she said. "These issues ought to be changed if banks wish to achieve gender diversification at senior levels. This will call for a sizeable shift in both organisational and social culture and attitudes."

The roundtable was also addressed by Sabah Khalil Al Moayyed, a banker with three decades of experience in the financial sector, most recently as chief executive of Eskan Bank, a post she relinquished only last month.

She fully endorsed Shaikha Hessa's call for action to support and promote more women in the financial and banking sector.

"I come from a family with high expectations of women in education and the professions," she said.

"This was very important in allowing me to set my sights high in my chosen profession. I also realised that to progress in my chosen profession I had to acquire skills throughout the sector and I moved during my career through all departments of the banks in which I worked."

Al Moayyed said she resigned as the Eskan Bank chief executive to devote her energies to empowering women and tackle housing issues in Bahrain.

Citibank's chief executive Mazin Manna, who opened the roundtable, underlined the bank's commitment to diversity.

"We recognise this as one of our competitive advantages, which is enhanced by attracting, retaining and developing the top female talent in the industry," said Manna.

"At 53 per cent, women make up more than half of Citi's workforce globally. In Bahrain, 30pc of our Citibank workforce are women, of which 62 per cent are officers." – TradeArabia News Service




Tags: Bahrain | banking | Al Salam | Women | Injaz | roundtable |

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