In order to enable women to take on economic opportunities, it is crucial that companies counter persisting gender inequalities. Notably, there is a need to better understand how the persistent lack of women in leadership positions can be addressed, and how its potential for increasing gender equality can be realized. 

This is why OeEB, the development bank of Austria, together with DEG, the German development finance institution, commissioned a research study on the transformative impact of gender-lens investing. Within this framework, the case of OeEB and DEG partner TBC Bank helps explore the factors and pre-conditions that enable women to advance in their workplaces and the relationship between women's leadership and economic empowerment. TBC Bank is the leading universal banking group in Georgia with a focus on digital channels, dedicated to run its business in a responsible and sustainable manner. The case study and its findings are based on an analysis of documents provided by TBC as well as seven focus groups with female employees working at different levels of the company, which took place between July and August 2021.

Gender equality in the Georgian context

Because of gender perceptions within Georgian society, men are often placed in more dominant jobs and social positions while women remain underrepresented in decision making. Currently, only 34 percent of all management positions are filled by women. Restricted access to productive and financial resources further limits women’s entrepreneurship. Moreover, legal frameworks of working rights are lacking alignment with gender-sensitive international labor standards and restricted civil liberties and gender-based violence in Georgia negatively impact women's economic opportunities. 

TBC Bank as an empowering workplace for women

From providing an allies and support network to having policies that provide a comprehensive basis to ensure equal work opportunities, TBC Bank shows how to foster a supportive and respectful work environment with management encouraging female employees in pursuing promotions or being mentored by role models. Through increasing leadership trainings and coachings, TBC ensures women's empowerment at the workplace. TBC also believes that the creation of family friendly work environment is a driving factor of gender equality and women’s leadership. In addition, women are increasingly represented in male-dominated areas of work, such as risk management and ICT (Information and communication technology), which the female employees emphasized as very positive. TBC also introduced clear policies to promote equality.

Practices to address social, political, and economic barriers to women's economic empowerment include active investment in gender diversity, leadership involvement to promote gender equality, a supportive work culture and role models for inclusive leadership. In addition, the case study on TBC Bank shows that investors and development partners can have a positive impact in driving gender equality in the private sector and counteracting the systems and structures that perpetuate inequality. 

The loan provided to TBC Bank by OeEB back in 2017, was dedicated to MSME finance, with a special focus on female entrepreneurs which supported TBC's commitment as a leading bank to actively contribute towards the economic empowerment of women. Within this facility, TBC Bank has provided financial support to 170 female-owned businesses. This enabled TBC Bank to further increase its reach out to female entrepreneurs, support growth and development of their businesses and promote gender equality both within its company and beyond.

The full report can be downloaded here.