HSBC offices and branches across the world have been holding events to mark International Women’s Day on 8 March. Seminars on the business benefits of diversity and debates about women’s career progression will take place in countries such as the UAE, UK and US, while the HSBC archives in Hong Kong will be hosting a staff tour to explore the role of women in the bank’s 152-year history. Many events are organised by staff networks such as Balance, whose impact is explored in the video above.

When Swayta was growing up in Bangalore, India, she did not know any women who worked outside the home. It was even “kind of taboo” for women to get a job, she says.

So when she joined HSBC, she made it her mission to help improve gender balance. She set up an Indian branch of Balance, HSBC’s global employee network that promotes gender equality. As well as providing a place for people with common interests to come together, the bank’s employee networks help to create a supportive working environment.

One of the challenges for women who want to combine parenthood and a career in India is a lack of organised professional daycare, says Swayta in a video about her experience. With advice from the Balance network, HSBC has doubled the entitlement under its maternity leave policy in India from three to six months.

This change has helped a lot of women choose to return to work, says Swayta – but she hopes for even more opportunities for her own daughter. “I want to see her walk the path to success, but hopefully not meet so many challenges – so that when she is passing university she can see a more fair and balanced life for herself,” she says.


Breaking down barriers

New technology can be a “force for good”, helping to create a more flexible working environment that allows women to succeed, according to Kaushalya Somasundaram, Head of FinTech Partnership and Strategy, HSBC.

Speaking at this year’s City of London International Women’s Day event at the Guildhall, Ms Somasundaram talked about how artificial intelligence, robotic learning and the shift towards a sharing economy has the potential to create a more inclusive society. The Guildhall event is sponsored by HSBC and raises money for Refuge, a charity supporting women and children who have experienced domestic abuse.

Ms Somasundaram was last year named one of Brummell magazine’s 30 most inspirational women in the City of London for her leadership in pioneering financial technology.

Be bold for change

Video: HSBC celebrates the spirit of International Women’s Day 

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