The African Development Bank has begun the process of becoming certified under the Economic Dividends for Gender Equality, or EDGE, Certification program, the leading global assessment certification for gender and intersectional equity in the workplace. The Bank made the announcement on Monday, at an official online launch held a day before International Women’s Day. The event attracted participants from headquarters as well as several of its regional offices. Senior Vice President Bajabulile Swazi Tshabalala said the launch marked the African Development Bank’s first step in the process of EDGE certification. “We have made excellent progress. There is more room for improvement. It’s about empowerment and ending underrepresentation…EDGE certification will help us,” Tshabalala said.
In 2019, 83% of the executive workforce at the African Development Bank was men. But within three years, the ratios of women at senior leadership have changed from 17% to 32%, the senior vice president said. “At the bank it’s our duty to lead by example…Organisations that fail to achieve a healthy gender balance are short-changing themselves. EDGE certification is a shared responsibility,” Tshabalala added. The African Development Bank has set 2025 as its goal for reaching 50/50 gender parity across its workforce.
Launched at the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum in 2011, EDGE assessment methodology and certification is designed to assist companies to create an optimal workplace for men and women. Through a rigorous process, accurate measurements of a company’s compensation scale, representation, inclusiveness of career development opportunities, training and other indicators, are independently verified. As they implement impactful actions and see clear pointers that those initiatives are creating change, participating companies will move from one level to the next. More than 200 companies are already working on or have achieved EDGE certification, including several multilateral development banks.
Vice President, Human Resources and Corporate Services, Mateus Magala, said the Bank is working hard to become an employer of choice and demonstrating its commitment to equal opportunities for all its employees. “We are working to improve gender parity across all levels in the Bank through affirmative action…We want our employees to hold us accountable as we transform to a gender-equal Bank, we want our stakeholders and partners to hold us accountable,” said Magala.
Ultimately, the EDGE certification process is changing the gender DNA of the bank, Magala said. “Today, as we launch the EDGE Certification, we are making a public declaration that we will continue to improve our gender index, we will focus on capacity development initiatives that will move us towards a gender-equal Bank, we will promote qualified female staff. We will adapt affirmative action as our mantra,” Magala said.
Taking participants through other achievements, Vice President for Agriculture, Human and Social Development, Beth Dunford, highlighted the institution’s Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA) initiative, set up to bridge the financing gap for African women. “As of last month, the African Development Bank Group had approved close to half-a-billion dollars to be lent to more than 2,100 women entrepreneurs. We’ve also cleared $12.7 million to enhance 17,000 business owners and farmers’ financial and business managerial skills,” Dunford said.
The Bank’s gender marker system for projects and operations is another example of success. In addition, the Bank’s Coding for Employment program, which has a 47% women enrollment rate – opens three new learning centres in Nigeria and Kenya on Tuesday, Dunford said. “We aim to brand ourselves as a gender-compliant organization internally and externally, EDGE matters,” Dunford said. Over the course of the afternoon participants heard presentations, followed by a robust question and answer session.
In closing remarks, Acting Human Resources director Jacques Edjangue said the institution’s gender parity statistics, which had remained flat since 2015, would require a Bank-wide effort. “As a Bank we have made this public declaration that we want to held accountable for gender relations. Let us respect the commitment we have made today. This is not only an HR issue,” he concluded.
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