Dhaka,  Monday
15 July 2024

‘Bangladeshi women lead South Asia in career aspirations’

Staff Reporter, Dhaka 

Published: 08:57, 14 June 2024

‘Bangladeshi women lead South Asia in career aspirations’

Photo: Collected

A new International Finance Corporation (IFC) report reveals that women in Bangladesh’s banking sector have the highest career aspirations among emerging South Asian economies, with 89 percent aspiring to progress to senior roles, compared to 79 percent in Nepal and 70 percent in Sri Lanka. 

While greater participation of women in the workforce and leadership holds immense business potential for Bangladesh, the report—based on research across seven commercial banks in the country—reveals that the ambition gap—the difference in career aspirations between men and women—is the least in Bangladesh among the countries surveyed. 

It reflects the likelihood of men versus women aiming for senior roles, showing a closely matched level of ambition among Bangladeshi bankers.
Globally, companies with better representation of women in leadership report a 5–20 percent increase in profits on average as a result. For instance, commercial banks with 15 percent or more women in senior management positions command up to 33 percent higher return on equity.

“Investing in women is key to unlocking the full spectrum of Bangladesh’s talent and catalyzing sustainable growth—crucial drivers for Bangladesh’s economic expansion,” said Imad N. Fakhoury, IFC's Regional Director for South Asia. 

“In the banking world, where numbers often reign supreme, invisible barriers still limit the ascent of many skilled women. By collaboratively redefining policies, processes, and cultural norms, we can build a more inclusive banking sector that benefits from the might of its entire workforce.”

This pioneering report, ‘Women’s Advancement in Banking in Emerging South Asian Countries,’ aims to optimize opportunities for women to advance their careers in the banking industry. 

It focuses on private-sector commercial banks in Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka, where women constitute 30 percent of the banking workforce compared to the global average of 52 percent. 

In Bangladesh, women represent 18 percent of the overall workforce and 19 percent at the entry level, signaling the need to expand the talent pipeline and support progression to leadership. 

The report calls for ambitious goals to boost women's representation, advocating for inclusive workplaces, tailored professional development, fair performance evaluations, work-life balance, and supportive networks. 

The recommendations aim to support and guide industry actors—top leaders in commercial banks, policymakers, industry bodies, and investors—to build on successes and bridge remaining gaps to increase women’s representation and leadership in Bangladesh’s banking sector.