Celebrating Five Years of Partnership – CBE’s Commitment to Women’s Leadership

In the February issue of AWiB Effect, we would like celebrate togetherness with the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia (CBE), that has been a solid AWiB partner since 2013, recommitting to the journey together in 2017. Established in 1942, CBE is a pioneering bank to introduce modern banking to Ethiopia. With more than 8.5 million account holders, CBE has since 2014 launched a special women’s account which entitle women to a higher interest rate than the convention interest rate.

As an avid supporter of AWiB’s mission and vision, we struck a brief conversation withSeifu Bogale, VP of Human Resources to understand how they are promoting gender equality.

AWiB: Ato. Seifu, what would you say is CBE’s commitment to promoting women’s leadership?

Seifu Bogale: As far as CBE’s commitments towards promoting women’s leadership is concerned, I would say it is much stronger as demonstrated in its current corporate human resource strategy implementation. Women are now encouraged to compete for all leadership positions and they are given preferential treatment whenever they qualify equally with men.  In terms of capacity development programmes they are also given the same kind of treatment in order to provide them better opportunities for future promotions.

AWiB: What have been the challenges in this journey? And the opportunities?

Seifu Bogale: The challenges are the reflections of the national setting. In the first place women’s representation is relatively less than men and their educational and work experiences in comparison to their male counterparts is not balanced. The other is their responsibility and double burden at home. This is a common challenge experienced. However, in CBE the case is some what specific – as the Bank is expanding to more remote areas and the the responsibilities associated to many of the managerial positions are becoming more demanding and high-pressure, the number of women attempting to compete for such positions are less in relative terms. Yet there are opportunities apart from the business growth which give rise for more jobs in general opportunities areas specializing in IT, Marketing and Sales and Human Resource management.

AWiB: And so what are some of the strategies CBE is employing to enable a gender equitable work environment?

Seifu Bogale: CBE has a corporate human resource strategy which gives due emphasis for gender issues in terms of building capacity and affirmative actions in recruitment and promotion processes.We have four executive women out of the thirteen executive group. We have also more than 30 directors and mid level managers. However this is still not that much to talk compared to the 1200 managerial positions available in the Bank.

AWiB: In what ways does its partnership with AWiB help it realize its goal of enabling women’s leadership?

Seifu Bogale:

I think what we are doing so far with AWiB has made an impact in terms of awareness creation, networking and a sense of being empowered.

We’re grateful to Ato. Seifu for taking time to answer our short questions and look forward to a strengthened partnership promoting women’s leadership and collaboratively addressing the challenges he mentioned.

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