The social development bank in Europe

Promoting a gender-friendly workplace

In January 2018, the CEB launched its gender equality strategy, outlining its principles, objectives and actions to achieve gender equality and diversity as an employer. One of its key aims is to achieve a business certification standard for gender equality.


The CEB already has strong elements in place to promote gender equality, including work-life balance policies such as teleworking. In early 2018, the ‘CEB Strategy on Gender Equality and Diversity’ was presented to the Administrative Council as a clear signal of the Bank’s commitment to promoting an environment that values and rewards the contributions of women and men in the same way.

This spring, the Bank conducted an employee survey, incorporated in the diagnostic and benchmark in support of the Gender Equality and Diversity strategy, examining attitudes towards key areas including equal pay, recruitment and promotion  opportunities, leadership development, and flexible working.

Forming a strategy for gender equality

Why does the bank need a gender diversity and equality strategy?

• Having a clear strategy increases the Bank’s capacity to achieve a representative workforce with a broad set of skills and competencies.
• Work quality is enhanced if objectives and activities are considered from diverse angles.
• Studies show that more diverse workplaces outperform others.

Key objectives of the strategy

The CEB’s strategy outlines five objectives that it must meet if gender equality is to be achieved.

  1. Strive to achieve at least 40% average female representation at level of A4-A7 (Group I and Group II above A4 level). The grade system for staff members at the CEB ranges from C1 to A7, with five grade bands from Group V to Group I.
  2. Maintain the objective of a minimum of 50% female recruitments in Group II for the coming years with emphasis on the recruitment and internal promotion of women at A4 level and above.
  3. Establish initiatives aimed at improving awareness, including senior management training on gender equality and diversity, and mechanisms to foster gender sensitive management.
  4. Provide women with opportunities for external coaching and in-house mentoring.
  5. Ensure that gender is mainstreamed into CEB’s internal policies and processes.

Driving action

The CEB’s gender equality strategy details 12 actions to help create an equal workplace for men and women.

These include:

• designing and implementing coaching and mentoring programmes
• creating networking opportunities for women
• reviewing the Bank’s policies to ensure they promote gender equality
• creating an advisory gender forum to monitor progress on equality initiatives
• supporting recruitment and selection teams to source talent from a broader talent pool.

Developing an EDGE

Edge_Seal_Assess_English_72One of the actions in the strategy is to ‘go through a global assessment methodology and business certification standard for gender equality... leading towards certification [to] strengthen focus and quality of gender related initiatives and give positive exposure to the implications of gender issues.’

To that end, the CEB has been working with EDGE certification – the leading global assessment methodology and business certification standard for gender equality – to understand where the Bank stands in terms of gender balance and equality, and where it needs to focus to achieve best practice in gender equality.

An audit report, including a peer benchmark, was also prepared and served a basis for an action plan as well as the first level of EDGE certification. HR aims to reach the second level of EDGE Certification in 2020 by looking at improvements in gender balance at higher management levels, policies and practices on, for instance, equal pay, promotion, or leadership and professional development at the CEB.

Integrating gender equality into our core financing activities

The CEB is committed to gender equality as an employer, and in the projects it supports. In its 2017-2019 Development Plan, the Bank integrated gender equality as a cross-cutting theme and a screening criterion for the development of new lending projects. 

The Plan states that the Bank will ‘deploy efforts for the identification and mainstreaming of gender equality actions.

during the appraisal of its projects in an effort to influence gender dynamics, reduce inequalities and improve the social outcome of its investments’.