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Leadership and Diversity for Innovation Program

Build executive leadership capabilities, develop the pipeline of female talent and use best practices in behavioral design to close the gender gap in financial inclusion.

Applications are now being accepted for the 2019 class of the Leadership and Diversity for Innovation Program, taught by Women’s World Banking and faculty from The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.


Program Dates:

Program kick-off (virtual): March 2019

Virtual learning: April 2019 to August 2019

In-person session: September 23 to 27, 2019 in New York, NY

Virtual learning, continued: October 2019-January 2020

Capstone presentations: February to March 2019

Application Deadline:

December 14, 2018
Space is limited. Applications will be accepted in rolling basis until the class is complete.

Senior Executives (male or female) from financial institutions, FinTechs or MNOs in emerging markets are invited to apply. Applicants should be part of the executive/senior management team or lead a significant line of business and should have an interest in serving low-income women.

High-potential women leaders do not need to submit an application. Nominees will be confirmed by the senior executive following acceptance into the program.

LDIP brochure 2019Program Fee:

USD 6,000

USD 5000 – Women’s World Banking Network Members

Program fee includes tuition and course materials for two (2) participants per institution (executive and high-potential woman leader). Women’s World Banking will cover accommodations, curricular materials and most meals during the week in New York. Participants must cover all travel and incidental expenses such as flights to the US, ground transportation, visas, insurance and additional meals.

Women’s World Banking may provide limited tuition assistance. Application must be completed for tuition assistance consideration. Email leadershipadmissions@womensworldbanking.org for more information

Why leadership and diversity for innovation?

Serving the one billion unbanked women across the globe will require leaders that are inclusive, innovative and able to understand what drives customer behavior to design solutions that truly meet her needs. The Leadership and Diversity for Innovation Program is a one-year leadership development experience that equips senior executives in emerging markets with

  1. the skills to successfully serve low-income women and advance women leaders within their institutions
  2. behavioral design tools to close the gender gap in financial inclusion


Why build diverse institutions?

Research evidence shows that companies with more women at the senior level outperform less diverse companies in terms of profitability and innovation income. Diverse teams make better decisions and are better equipped to navigate uncertainty and complexity.

Ultimately, institutions that invest in recruiting, retaining and developing women leaders will win as they compete for the best talent and reach untapped client segments, especially the women’s market.


What will participants do?

The one-year leadership experience includes ongoing virtual learning and a week-long workshop in New York taught by Women’s World Banking and world-renowned faculty from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

Each senior executive identifies a real-time business challenge related to serving the women’s market or advancing internal gender diversity. Following acceptance into the program, s/he also selects a high-potential woman leader from their institution to join the program with them.

In the period from April to August 2019, Women’s World Banking will provide tools and virtual guidance on best practices in behavioral design as pairs better define their business initiative and gather market intelligence to shape their next steps. During this times, pairs will also kick-off their sponsorship relationship in support of the high-potential woman leader’s professional development.

The in-person workshop will take place in New York from September 23 to 27, 2019. Executives will join the Executive Forum and high-potential women leaders will join the Women in Leadership track. They will also engage jointly in workshop sessions on best practices in behavioral design.

Following the in-person workshop in September, senior executive participants complete a 360 assessment and receive individual coaching support to implement development areas identified. The high-potential women leaders complete an e-learning course to continue building critical leadership skills.

Both participants receive expert consultations from Women’s World Banking as they continue to advance their business initiative, culminating with virtual capstone presentations in February or March of 2020.

Throughout the program, senior executives also invest in the professional growth of the woman leader who attends the program with them through career mentorship and sponsorship.


Why is this program unique?

This is the only program at the intersection of leadership development, innovation and women’s financial inclusion. It equips participants with technical and strategic know-how to create women-centered solutions and leadership skills to affect change. In addition, senior executives gain tools to sponsor the high-potential woman leader, modelling an approach for building a pipeline of gender diverse talent within the business.


What will participants gain?

With expertise from Women’s World Banking and Wharton’s world-class faculty, participants will build:

Leadership Competencies: Learn core skills such as strategic decision making, emotional intelligence, influence, and creating an innovation culture.

Financial Inclusion Knowledge: Understand global challenges and best practices in serving the women’s market and explore how to use women-centered design to better serve women customers.

A Global Network: Engage with peers, learn from case studies and consult with Women’s World Banking’s global team to understand best practices for serving women.

Tangible Business Outcomes: Past participants have advanced business initiatives including re-activating dormant savings accounts, launching a mobile platform for women, implementing an internal women’s leadership program and more


Who is eligible to apply?

  • Members of the executive/senior management team at a financial institution, FinTech or MNO in emerging markets
  • Leads a significant line of business and has a high level of influence
  • Interest in serving low-income women
  • Commitment to advance a critical business initiative and report back on progress
  • Ability to travel to attend in-person workshop in New York in September and complete all virtual touchpoints
  • Proficiency in written and spoken English

Selection criteria for the high-potential woman leader is provided in the application form. Note that the senior executive will select the women leader after being accepted into the program.

Frequently Asked Questions

Visit the Frequently Asked Questions page for more information.




About The Wharton School
Founded in 1881 as the first collegiate business school, the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania is recognized globally for intellectual leadership and ongoing innovation across every major discipline of business education. With a broad global community and one of the most published business school faculties, Wharton creates ongoing economic and social value around the world. The School has 5,000 undergraduate, MBA, executive MBA, and doctoral students; more than 9,000 annual participants in executive education programs; and a powerful alumni network of 93,000 graduates.


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