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SEAF’s Gender Equality Scorecard

SEAF uses its Gender Equality Scorecard © to assess women’s economic empowerment and gender equality within investment opportunities and portfolio companies

 

This measurement mechanism is an important tool that will demonstrate that SEAF portfolio companies can provide appropriate financial returns and measurable impact, including women being economically empowered through investment and development activities.

SEAF is using the Gender Equality Scorecard © GES © for multiple purposes, including:

  • As a screening tool to identify companies already demonstrating a commitment to gender equality,
  • As a tool to assess portfolio companies’ level of demonstrated gender equality in order to improve it over the investment hold period, as a value creation activity,
  • As a guideline to develop SEAF’s best practices in the implementation of its gender improvement plans across the underlying parameters of each gender equality vectors,
  • As a mechanism to leverage the data derived from the tool as it is applied across its gender lens portfolio to support the analysis of the impact of improving gender equality on increasing investment returns for investors, and thus validating SEAF’s investment thesis.

The GES © (sample rating provided at right) provides an overall rating score for a scored company on its level of women’s economic empowerment and gender equality within the business. The team will work actively with portfolio companies over the life of the investment to make strategic & operational improvements that will raise the score of the company, continuing these efforts all the way through to an exit.

This overall rating score is based on 6 gender equality performance vectors such as pay equity, workforce participation, leadership and governance, benefits and professional development, workplace environment, and women-power value chains. Each gender vector would have 4 factors that contribute to the vector rating that, in turn, feed into a company’s overall gender rating. For example, workforce participation would assess a firm’s employees and turnover gender-disaggregated data as well as its recruitment and retention policy and practices.

GES Vectors

 

SEAF is in a unique position to leverage its extensive experience in investing in SMEs and apply the necessary interventions to improve strategy and operations. Beyond providing strategic and operational support post-investment, SEAF believes that opportunities exist to build value in companies by shaping gender equality and women’s empowerment through the six gender equality vectors. SEAF utilizes the findings to introduce best practices to enhance gender equality programs in their investee companies by embedding these programs in policies, processes, and procedures and monitor the implementation through its periodic assessments. In this regard, SEAF is also building up its best practice library in the region from its collaboration with its investee companies, a rich resource that can be shared for the benefit of many other companies.

Case Studies on SEAF’s Women Economic Empowerment/GES© 

Case Study 1: Digicon Technologies Limited

Overview

Founded in 2010, Digicon Technologies Limited (Digicon or the “Company”) has earned a strong reputation as a leading BPO service provider. The Company delivers turnkey solutions to all industries that outsource their customer care division and back-office support.

Digicon offers a breadth of voice-based services to clients across multiple industries, including packages for inbound and outbound call-center facilities. In addition, the Company offers ready-to-go services that clients can deploy in a short period, such as:

  • Customer Help Desk Digicon provides help desk services by directly integrating with the client’s network and can address customer concerns employing its own resources or engaging concerned departments
  • Back Office Support Includes account receivables, software development, IVR services, infrastructure management, document management, data mining, database builds, data harvesting and direct mail campaign alerts
  • Billing and Coding Digicon also provides medical billing and coding services to physician chambers, hospitals and medical billing companies ensuring timely booking, billing and reimbursements while maintaining accuracy
  • Training Digicon offers a variety of training courses to corporate workforces focusing on contact centers, back-office and other knowledge-based domains of the BPO industry

Digicon’s client base includes leading  telecommunication companies, multinational electronic companies, insurance, non-banking financial institutions and government institutions amongst others. The Company is also involved in different training projects with both government and private organizations. Most of Digicon’s government training projects are focused on developing the next generation of skilled employees for Bangladesh’s thriving ICT sector.

The Company is also a training partner of the Bangladesh Association of Call Center and Outsourcing (BACCO) in which it is leading a dynamic initiative to train thousands of the country’s unemployed graduates/diploma holders aged 18-40 years in Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) skills including call center service, data entry, accounting, human resources, healthcare, legal processes, document management and it services.

Digicon also arranges training programs for women, partnering with different government authorities. The programs foster women’s healthcare, women’s entrepreneurship and technical skills development.

Key Facts

Current Activities

  • More than 110 million of Bangladesh’s 160 million population is under the age of 35. Only 60 million of them are connected over the internet. They are not only using the internet for entertainment purposes, but also for creative and innovative tasks.
  • Obstacles exist for educated women to become involved in traditional jobs due to social norms. However, the BPO sector has been attracting talented women as it offers an excellent working environment and general opportunity for them.
  • The Skills for Employment Investment Program (SEIP) supports the Government of Bangladesh’s reforms in skills development articulated in the National Skills Development Policy. SEIP enables a large proportion of the population to be employed.
  • Access to free training facilities for educated women through SEIP has contributed to an increase in female participation in the BPO industry.
  • Around 2,000 people have enrolled in SEIP training programs with Digicon under four different courses with over 700 of them being female. Around 56% of the trained participants receiving direct job placement at Digicon and at other Bangladesh’s other BPO companies.

Digicon’s SEAF Gender Equality Score©

Bangladesh Gender Demographics

  • The number of employed in Bangladesh is increasing over time and the percentage of women’s participation participating has increased more than that of men.
  • Bangladesh has seen an increase in literacy rate for both women (71%) and men (76%), with the divide narrowing over the past 5 years.
  • The benefits for women working in BPO include an increase in income, the ability to gain new and varied skills, a better sense of empowerment and better healthcare, amongst others.
  • Different ICT and BPO training programs have been initiated by the Bangladeshi government to develop the technical skills of educated young people in the country, including some women’s economic empowerment initiatives.

Women’s Economic Empowerment Highlights of Digicon

Pay Equity

  • No major pay discrimination for the employees in Digicon, the compensation ratio of the female and male salaried employees is 92%. Additionally, the Company also has a compensation policy which explicitly supports pay equity
  • SEAF WEE Team is working with the Company to establish employee surveys or benchmarking studies, with disaggregated data to further improve pay equity

Benefits & Professional Development

  • Addressing gender equality in the workplace by offering paid maternity leave and other postnatal benefits to women employees
  • Providing health insurance facilities that improve employee performance and increase productivity
  • Enabling women to reach their full potential by developing their capacity through different training programs
  • Providing phone allowance, subsidized food and daily transportation facilities that disproportionally benefit women employees

Workforce Participation

  • 39% female workforce participation
  • Finds the right talent for its workforce from its own training programs. Female workplace participation in Digicon is increasing through direct recruitment from the SEIP training programs
  • Digicon is in a good place for learning about how to ensure a work-life balance for attracting and retaining talent, particularly female employees. Different recreational and cultural events are arranged regularly for the employees as team building activities
  • Overall female turnover ratio is 7.4% only, comparatively less than that of men

Workplace Environment

  • Practicing roster basis duty (8 hours) to maintain the productivity and increase efficiency of its employees. Digicon also reduces the health effects on employees due to night shifts. For safety and health issues, female employees are not allowed to work the night shift in Digicon
  • Ensuring a safe workplace environment for women employees by establishing strict adherence to the sexual harassment policy
  • Offering flexibility in working arrangements and work timings which encourage Digicon’s female employees to join and stay longer. Moreover, employees are rewarded on a merit basis for timely deliveries
  • Also ensuring a safe place of work, where facilities are strictly monitored, and transportation is easily accessible

Leadership & Governance

  • Increasing cap table representation with 11% of shareholders being women, compared to the wider South Asian context where only an average of 18% of the firms having women among their principal owners
  • 14% C-Suite representation are women vs South Asia as a whole in which only 11% of firms have women as top managers
  • Increasing female ownership and leadership helps foster a culture that embraces diversity and rewards people based on their achievements and their potential capabilities
  • SEAF WEE team is working with the Company to help more women employees to achieve their career development at top and mid-management levels

Women Powered Value Chains

  • Empowering women through freelance, IT and call center training services that are fully dedicated for educated women in rural areas of Bangladesh
  • Working actively to help increase female entrepreneurs in the ICT sector by “She Power Project: Sustainable Development for Women through ICT” training program with ICT division of Bangladesh Government
  • Providing “Family Planning” training for women in collaboration with Directorate General of Family Planning (DGFP) that ensures the good health and well-being of women, particularly in remote areas of the country

Download this case study in pdf form here.