Leadership and Diversity Program

Location: Global

During 2009, in response to widespread questioning of the strength of leadership and management in the financial inclusion sector, Women’s World Banking launched a leadership development program with a mission to “develop principled and visionary leaders for the future of the industry.” The organization subsequently underwent a 30-month external evaluation of this program. Across the trajectory of the evaluation, participants shared stories of personal revelations and transformations, as well as outcomes in terms of promotions, changed practices, better portfolios, or more branch openings. This assessment showed evidence that core management skills, orientation toward investing in gender-diverse leadership, and enhanced understanding of the potential economic and social returns from women as a market segment – gained through participation in Women's World Banking’s leadership development training – link directly to promoting individual and institutional change.

Building upon the success of the initial program, Women’s World Banking revamped its offering to focus more intentionally on driving positive movement toward enhanced leadership and gender diversity at the institutional level. The goal of the Leadership and Diversity for Innovation Program (the Program) is to achieve institutional change by equipping leaders of financial institutions with the training and tools for innovation and capacity building that will enable them to better serve the women’s market.

Women’s World Banking designed the Program’s components to address identified leadership gaps and drive results at the individual, institutional, and market level:


  • Lack of quality training opportunities for leaders serving low-income clients to address the women’s market, build the talent pipeline for business continuity and sustainability, improve institutional performance, and manage change

  • Limited institutional capacity to innovate in order to serve the women’s market

Program Component

  • Training and coaching of senior leaders to expose them to the potential of the women’s market and help them: acquire skills and knowledge for serving this market segment, build the capacity of others, identify and support diverse talent, and create a culture that supports innovation

  • Training high-potential women leaders, allowing them to find their authentic leadership voice, build their skills, and become internal champions for organizational diversity and serving the women’s market


  • More high-potential women employees in the leadership pipeline, with leadership vision, professional development and action plans in place

  • Stronger, more gender-diverse financial institutions better equipped to respond to the evolving needs of the market

  • More customer-centric products and services designed to cater to the unique needs of underserved women customers

  • Greater financial inclusion of un- and under-banked women through access to and understanding of relevant financial products and services

Project Partner:

Women’s World Banking