NEW YORK – Thirteen high-performing women employees from financial institutions around the world will join Women’s World Banking in Mumbai this week as part of a year-long Leadership and Diversity for Innovation Program.

This signature Women’s World Banking program is implemented in partnership with Credit Suisse with additional support from the Cisco Foundation. The women—from a diverse range of markets, including Kenya, Pakistan, Malawi and the Philippines—were chosen for this program due to their strong potential for leadership and commitment to serving low-income women clients with financial services.

“Women’s World Banking works with financial institutions around the world to increase women’s access to finance. We know that a critical component of serving women clients well is a strong commitment to leadership and diversity within the institution itself,” said Mary Ellen Iskenderian, President and CEO of Women’s World Banking. “We’re thrilled to support 13 women who are truly the leaders of tomorrow in the mission to close the gender gap in financial inclusion.”

The Women in Leadership curriculum builds on more than a decade of Women’s World Banking’s leadership training programs. In the last five years, the organization trained 494 participants from 150 financial institutions in 65 countries. The Leadership and Diversity for Innovation Program is designed for teams of two from each financial institution. Participating high-performing women employees are joined by senior executives who receive simultaneous training.

“Our ‘team approach’ for this program was developed in response to feedback from previous women trainees who found that, upon returning to their institutions, they lacked support from senior management to realize their full leadership potential and make significant institutional changes,” said Iskenderian. “This program promotes an institution-wide commitment to developing emerging women leaders. The organization wins, too, by fostering new and different perspectives to drive innovation,” said Iskenderian.

Throughout the year, each team is working to identify and solve a real-time challenge facing their institution related to successfully serving low-income women. The senior executives also participated in a week of leadership development in April in New York where the focus was on the critical role of leadership for customer-driven innovation, critical decision-making and how to sponsor emerging talent. This week, the senior executives will continue their training in a four-day roundtable while the high-potential women employees will focus on individual development. These in-person program sessions are complemented by webinars with faculty from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and remote executive coaching services from Creative Metier.

More than one billion women globally do not have access to financial services. At the same time, women are the fastest-growing, most dynamic market segment in the world. If financial institutions are to reach these potential clients, they need to design innovative financial products, such as savings and insurance that meet the needs of women. The program participants will also have the opportunity to join Credit Suisse staff members in Mumbai for a panel discussion on this topic featuring Mary Ellen Iskenderian; Dr. Nachiket Mor, Board Chair of CARE India; and Mickey Doshi, CEO of Credit Suisse India.

Participating organizations include: Kashf Foundation in Pakistan; Kenya Women Microfinance Bank Limited and Equity Bank Limited in Kenya; NBS Bank Limited in Malawi; Banco de Ahorro y Crédito ADOPEM (Banco ADOPEM) in the Dominican Republic; Microfund for Women in Jordan; CARD Bank and CARD Inc. in the Philippines; Ujjivan Financial Services Pvt Ltd. in India; Uganda Finance Trust Bank Ltd. MDI; Lead Foundation in Egypt; AMK Microfinance Institution Plc. in Cambodia; and Pro Mujer, Inc. serving Bolivia, Nicaragua, Peru, Mexico and Argentina.

To learn more about Women’s World Banking and the Leadership and Diversity for Innovation program, visit www.womensworldbanking.org/leadership.